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3.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 53.6 out of 5 3.60 (35 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Isabel Gillies Narrator: Isabel Gillies Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2009 ISBN: 9780743582919
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Isabel Gillies had a wonderful life—a handsome, intelligent, loving husband who was a professor; two glorious toddlers; a beautiful house in their Midwestern college town; the time and place to express all her ebullience and affection and optimism. Suddenly, the life Isabel had made crumbled. Her husband, Josiah, announced that he was leaving her and their two young sons. “Happens every day,” said a friend.

Far from a self-pitying diatribe, Happens Every Day reads like an intimate conversation between friends. It is a dizzyingly can-did, compulsively readable, ultimately redemptive story about love, marriage, family, heartbreak, and the unexpected turns of a life. On the one hand, reading this book is like watching a train wreck. On the other hand, as Gillies herself says, it is about trying to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, and loving your life even if it has slipped away.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Isabel Gillies tells the story of the breakup of her ‘perfect’ marriage with astonishing honesty, sharp humor, and not a shred of self-pity. This is a memoir that reads like a gripping mystery and a moving coming-of-age tale.” 

    David Auburn, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Proof

  • “Isabel Gillies has written a heartbreaking memoir about the wild unpredictability of the human heart. She is stunningly candid and reminds every reader that, yes, lives fall apart, husbands leave wives, people start over—Happens Every Day. Gillies is moving, funny, authentic, and never a victim. Her voice is instantly compelling.” 

    Elisabeth Robinson, author of The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

  • “A smart, rueful memoir of love, betrayal, and survival.” 

    USA Today

  • “What a strange and wonderful surprise: a gorgeous, funny, exuberant book about the disastrous end of a marriage. A loss like Gillies’ might happen all the time, but it’s rarely met with the passion, compassion, energy, and warmth that suffuse every page. With charming candor, she lays bare her sorrow and her joys, and finds a true—and instructive—talent for transformation and happiness.” 

    Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the April 2009 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 2/17/2014

    " Woman gets cheated on (in real life) and this is her story. Reads like she's telling it to you over a bottle of wine. You are horrified -- and hooked. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 2/14/2014

    " Although a sad story, Gillies keeps the reader engaged with her warmth and subtle humor. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy Bendroth | 2/10/2014

    " Wish she went more into what happened after her husband left... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 2/7/2014

    " Isabel tells of how her perfect marriage and family just falls apart when her husband out of the blue says "I cant do it anymore" and wants out of the marriage. He falls for the new younger professor, who is actually Isabel's new friend. Isabel explains the values she was raised on how you always work through a marriage, and how important the marriage vows and family are. She struggles to try and save her marriage, but fails. I would like to now read her husbands account, which I am sure was never written. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Pamela | 2/7/2014

    " Another NPR best of 2009 recommended book, that I could have easily not read. Poorly written, self indulgent story of a priviledged actress, former 17 cover girl going through a divorce. It sounds as though she was more in love with the asthetic of the life she shared as a Poetry prof. wife than actually in love with the true man. It is of course, a sad tale when a marriage ends abruptly and someone just stops loving you. Most single moms though don't have the luxury of returning to an apartment overlooking central park to raise their children.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Heidi | 1/29/2014

    " Can't say I would recommend this. I couldn't relate to someone who put a man on such a high pedestal, especially a man who is emotionally toxic and self centered. It was a disappointing read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Felicity | 1/19/2014

    " This is not a story with a happy ending. You know that from the very beginning, so I'm not spoiling anything. It's a story about a marriage bust-up, with kids and all. There's nothing cheery about it. Neither of the parties involved come out looking particularly good. He did end up leaving his wife for another woman, but even she seems equivocal (at least in my view) about the extent to which something was actually going as the marriage fell apart. Then again, maybe it's because she never really knew. What Isabel Gillies does manage to convey so convincingly is the rapidity of the decline...it's all over within four months. Without his side of the story, it's difficult to assess how long he had really been unhappy--the answer to that question might explain the rapid decline. In some ways, this memoir seems her attempt to find the answer to those unanswerable questions: when did it start to disintegrate? what did I do wrong? The reasons why she asks these, however, remain puzzling to me. She's now happily remarried...while picking over the detritus of her previous marriage may be therapeutic for her (and vaguely interesting for her readers as she does write well), there are certainly those left in Ohio (surely) who know exactly who she's writing about. As she says, Oberlin was (is) a small community. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebecca | 1/15/2014

    " This book really requires two separate ratings--the average of which means nothing. The writing is so painfully bad it is it's own kind of douleur exquise. But the story is so compelling, and told so unselfconsciously I could not bear to be away from it until it was finished. It's my kind of sordid. Hurts. So. Good. Follow up with a re-watch of "Metropolitan." And if you haven't seen "Metropolitan," lucky you getting to see it for the first time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen McIntosh | 1/11/2014

    " This book is hard to get out of your head. It's even harder when you realize that it's a true story. Gut-wrenching to read, but thank God for the Eqilogue containing an update written a few years after the book ends. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arla | 1/6/2014

    " This was ok - the lady was a wimp! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paula | 12/31/2013

    " Got very frustrated with the author's way of writing. Also felt in the beginning she was trying to make us all believe her life was completely perfect then it fell apart and then it was more of being made to feel like a door mat "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michelle | 12/23/2013

    " Read it in a night, last night. A story about the unpredictability of the human heart. The irony that yesterday was Valentine's Day just hit me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jessica | 12/21/2013

    " In the blink of an eye it can all unravel. This book gives you one woman's story about how it all came apart and how she survived. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Linda | 12/6/2013

    " zzzzzzzzz. I think she got a book contract because people would recognize her from Law & Order. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jackie | 11/28/2013

    " really interesting. the kind of story that sucks you in and stays with you after you finish it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ginette | 11/21/2013

    " I picked this book up at Starbucks~~true story about a failed marriage.I felt like this was happening to my girlfriend. Enjoyed every minute of this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin | 12/29/2012

    " Not my cup of tea but if you like biographies than it's okay. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie Irick | 10/16/2012

    " It been a very long time since I last read a book in one sitting. This book was simple and sad, yet extremely compelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katie | 9/6/2012

    " It happens everyday, but it still sucks when your husband leaves you for another woman. The story is heartbreaking and illuminating at the same time. I felt like I was having a conversation with Isabel Gillies over coffee, rather than reading about how her life was crumbling. Beautifully written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tonya | 8/13/2012

    " very sad and very true. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tori | 4/2/2012

    " Anyone who has been divorced should read this book. Anyone who has a friend or family member that is getting divorced or has been through a divorce, should read this. It gives good insight into what might truly be going on that others on the outside don't know about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nela | 3/7/2012

    " I really enjoyed this memoir. It was a touching story and I felt I could really connect with the characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ziyanc | 12/7/2011

    " moves fast but story is a little bland, self-absorbed "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane St. Ours | 10/15/2011

    " Good account of loss of love/divorce. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 5/14/2011

    " True story of the end of a marriage, written by the sort of nuts wife who used to be on Law and Order. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erica | 5/11/2011

    " It isn't the best writing but I couldn't put the book down! I guess I like sad and heartbreaking stories... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jamie | 5/10/2011

    " I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Feels very honest and could have been trite or same old story but it rose above that. I highly recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pallavi | 5/5/2011

    " The author is so likable. Reading this book was like listening to someone you grew up with. It was hard to put down. I've loaned this book or given it as a gift to many friends. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Barbara | 4/17/2011

    " A bit self-serving; girl meets married man, man marries girl, man finds another girl, (SURPRISE!) divorces and leaves wife surprised and amazed that her life was not the one she dreamed she had.
    Quick read and I guess it happens every day, but I did not feel especially sorry for the author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arla | 3/16/2011

    " This was ok - the lady was a wimp! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne | 3/16/2011

    " Does is get any more candid? What a great book. So open and honest about something that happens....well..everyday. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hannah | 3/15/2011

    " Loved it. LOVED it. That's all I can say...and it really does happen every day. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beth | 3/7/2011

    " Good story, nothing spectacular. Liked the Oberlin, OH setting! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Belenda | 3/6/2011

    " Enjoyed the read for the most part. I felt compelled to read this all the while knowing that it would cut to close to the bone for me (former life.) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 2/21/2011

    " Such a well told story. I appreciated her honesty and raw emotions. "

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About the Author

Isabel Gillies is known for her television role on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and for her cinematic debut in the film Metropolitan. A graduate of New York University with a BFA in film, she has authored several popular novels. She lives in Manhattan with her second husband, two sons, and stepdaughter.