What We're Reading This Weekend: Trouble in Paradise Novels

PEOPLE staffers recommend books about tumultuous relationships


If there’s one thing most people can agree on, it’s that marriage is really hard work. As blissful as matrimony can be – in this week’s cover story, Matthew McConaughey opens up about the joys of husbandhood – every couple has those unavoidable lows. Hopefully, few have as much drama as the characters our staff is reading about this week. Between tumultuous nuptials, deadly secrets and spousal discontent, these fictional couples need serious counseling.

Share your thoughts on their choices – and let us know what you’re reading.

Alex Apatoff, Senior Style Editor

Her Pick:

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Even the most beautiful wedding tends to be masking some family tension below the surface – and that’s especially true of the Van Meters, the hosts at the center of the lovely, funny and keenly-observed Seating Arrangements. The family must navigate the complicated waters of heartbreak, lust and blue-blood social mores, all the while keeping a united front. It’s a beach read with ocean depth, and Maggie Shipstead keeps the pace (and the cringe-laughter) going throughout.

Mariam Murray, Integrated Sales Account Manager

Her Pick:

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

We Are Not Ourselves is an epic tale of cross-generational dynamics and how these relationships define and can make or break us. We learn about Eileen Tumulty and her Irish immigrant parents living in Queens, New York, in post-WWII America. Eileen is inspired by her father, psychologically traumatized by her mother and grows up to become a discontented woman, professional, wife and mother herself. She has grand ambitions beyond her family’s middle-class existence, but it’s her strength and love that hold that family together. I am near the middle of this 600+ page story, and there is so much more to come. How do life, love, loss and ambition play out over time? And can we ever become better versions of ourselves? I’m still reading to find out.

Julia Hoag, Senior Manager, Integrated Marketing – Stylewatch

Her Pick:

The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

This book was recommended to me by an avid reader friend. It’s about Arthur Winthrop, the headmaster of an exclusive New England prep school who one day is found wandering naked and aimless through Central Park. As he tells his story to the police, you discover disturbing information about his inner thoughts and actions, his marriage, family and tragic past. I’m not that far into the plot, but so far it’s keeping me guessing. One thing I know for sure is that nothing is as it seems.

Check back Thursdays for more round ups of staff picks, and see more book reviews each week in PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands now. Plus, check out past staff picks like Her Stories and more great book finds here.

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