Read Remark Book Review - The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

Book Review: The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

One-sentence summary of The Arrangement:
Longtime marrieds Lucy and Owen decide to give open marriage a try for six months.

Well, at least they go into their arrangement with good intentions. But you know what they say the road to hell is paved with.

Their marriage has grown stale but not unhappy. Their sex lives are stagnant, but it’s not worth ending the relationship. Especially considering their special-needs child. Disrupting the family would only do him harm.

So, more out of curiosity than anything else, Lucy and Owen try an open relationship for six months in which they remain together, but are allowed to pursue outside sexual relationships, no questions asked.

Setting aside hand-wringing or judgment about the sanctity of marriage, it’s an interesting question: can an open relationship work if it’s a brief respite meant to save the family?

Stories like these hinge on a big moral dilemma:

  • My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult: If your child is terminally ill, is it okay to have another baby to share its organs?
  • Indecent Proposal (movie): If a wealthy man offered you a million dollars to sleep with the wife, would you do it?
  • Me Before You by JoJo Moyes: Is assisted suicide an okay option for someone who suffers from extreme disabilities or ill health?

This story, of course, revolves around the question of whether this marriage can survive an open relationship.

Important distinction: it’s not making a judgment call on every relationship; just this one.

Hooooo, bless their misguided hearts.

The idea isn’t completely off base. Through their son and his challenges, we see exactly why the marriage would be strained, as well as the importance to all of them to keep it together.

While The Arrangement is an interesting read with vibrantly written characters, there are a couple of things that lessen it:

  • Owen is too lascivious.
    It makes the central question less of a head scratcher between a mutually respectful and loving couple and more of a study on a horndog who is finally free to roam. Reading it, I was often consumed with “kick that dog to the curb!” revenge fantasies.
  • The subplot with Gordon is unnecessary.
    The idea was probably to show various couple at various stages of unhappiness in their marriages, but it just wasn’t needed. This is Lucy and Owen’s story. Not Gordon’s.

Whether an arrangement like this would work between other couples who actually communicate with one another, it’s rather painful to watch with Lucy and Owen.

But still, strangely fun to read!