What if your husband of over twenty years decides he wants another life—without you? How will you determine what comes next? This is the premise of the novel A Better Next (She Writes Press) by Maren Cooper.
Forty-five-year-old Jess Lawson is a successful healthcare consultant with two college kids. She and her surgery professor husband, Arthur, live a busy and fulfilling life in St. Louis. They are the epitome of a successful and happy family. At least that’s what Jess always believed. But since Jess began consulting for the healthcare merger involving Arthur’s university, their relationship has deteriorated into emotional detachment.
Arthur never lets Jess forget that her career is just a job, not like the life-saving research he does to cure cancer. But isn’t he right, after all? It’s not like she’s saving lives like he is.
“[Arthur] assumed that Jess would manage the household and the children while he presented himself to the world as a life-saving hero.”
They’ve always been able to smooth the rough edges. Their marriage has lasted, and they’ve raised two wonderful kids.
But now things are different. Snippets of conversation about her husband assault Jess from colleagues and friends alike. Is it just gossip, or truth that Jess doesn’t want to accept? It appears Arthur is moving his lab to Portland. Why hasn’t Arthur said anything about it to her? She wonders how her career can handle such a change. But her uncertainty turns to disbelief when she discovers that he plans to move without her.
Jess has been living her life with blinders on. As she tip-toes around Arthur and his hidden agenda, she learns that he’s having an affair, and this isn’t the first time. How much more about Arthur does she not know, and how did everyone but her see his true nature?
Arthur’s plans for a new life are not only ruining their marriage, but they’re also hurting her career. Clients don’t trust her to consult on a merger which her husband appears to be sabotaging.
As her marriage crumbles, Jess must learn how to manage Arthur’s betrayal. With her friends Claire and Diane, she gets through life one day at a time, diving into her healthcare consulting work while trying not to wallow in the sadness caused by her husband’s indifference to her and their life together. Work is the elixir that will save her.
“I need to keep busy right now. I’m still buying time for my broken heart.”
Jess realizes she doesn’t need Arthur, or any man, to define her. With good friends as a support system and the love from her children, Jess finds that “what comes next” can be as exciting and fulfilling as what she leaves behind.
For any woman who has experienced a husband’s betrayal and the fear of starting over, reading A Better Next will have you cheering for Jess as she survives her pain and reinvents herself in a fulfilling new life.
A Better Next is now available.
About Maren Cooper
Maren Cooper grew up in the Midwest and now resides in Minnesota. During her long career as a health services executive during a time of continuous change, she led a number of organizations to respond to the challenges of new competitive business models, required operating system improvements and the search for optimal governance structures.
Through it all, Maren was a keen observer of the range of coping mechanisms people call upon when their known world is upset and the consequences of choices made in the board room have a direct impact on patient care, professional careers and the families of all involved.
A life-long reader, she recently discovered the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, began taking classes and slowly unearthed the aspiring writer beneath. A Better Next is her debut novel.
She writes best on the North Shore of Lake Superior where she retreats frequently to hike, watch the deer devour her hostas and needlepoint.