The Good Guy - Susan Beale

Rating: ★


Five most important points

1. A heartbreaking tale about love and betrayal in 1960s America

2. Shows that "good guys" are really the worst men out there

3. Will make your feminist heart soar

4. Beautiful writing

5. Features the cutest kid I've ever read.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book. 

Today is another session of: Emma picked a book solely based on the cover and had no clue what she was getting herself into. Remarkably, for once, this actually worked out. Though I picked The Good Guy because the amazing retro cover, I fell in love more and more with each page and left it feeling amazed by Susan Beale's writing.

The Good Guy is the story of Ted, who lives in suburban Massachusetts with his wife Abigail and new-born child Mindy. He's a disappointment to his family and in-laws by not becoming a lawyer, but focusing on a career as salesman of tires. Though he makes good money, he constantly feels underappreciated - especially when Abi starts excelling at university. He looks for distraction in an innocent fling with Penny, but that soon becomes more than he bargained for.

Look, any book with the title The Good Guy gets major side-eye from me, and luckily Susan Beale does not try to convince the reader how Ted is amazing. He thinks he is a good guy, he honestly truly to God thinks he does everything right, while he is actually a massive idiot who puts the women in his life in the worst positions. Not just Ted thinks he's nice, his whole neighbourhood does too, and this book just shows that you never truly know a person. Even though Ted seems perfect, his whole life actually seems perfect, he is deeply unhappy and deeply insensitive to the needs of those around him. 

Though I loved to hate Ted while reading, which shows the strength of Susan Beale's ability to write a great unlikeable character, I fell deeply in love with both Abigail and Penny. Both are extremely different and both were such a joy to read. While Abigail is focused on her education and the struggles of combining motherhood, her own life, and the expectations of a 1960s housewife who has to do everything in the house, Penny works but dreams about settling down and finding her prince charming and child. Throughout the book, both women seem to want what the other one has, though the reader is shown the downsides of each of their lives (mainly the fact that Ted is in it, but that's my opinion).

Overall, The Good Guy is an interesting look into the lives of women in the 1960s. In an era where women had to be married to start a family and where they were expected to give up everything for that husband, it is fascinating to see what happens when they behave out of the norm. Susan Beale writes beautifully and is able to guide the reader easily through the story while connecting to all the characters. While you might not love them all, you'll be invested in all of them. I've read this book in a day and felt sad when putting it down and leaving Abi and Penny's world. I can't wait to read more by Susan Beale.