Review of “The Actor and the Housewife” by Shannon Hale

Becky Jack is a happily-married wife and mother of three (and very pregnant with her fourth) when she manages to sell a screenplay in Los Angeles. She flies out to L.A. to negotiate with the agent, but the meeting is broken up when heartthrob Felix Callahan walks in, and the chemistry between Becky and Felix is instantaneous. Becky is something new and unusual to Felix: a woman who doesn’t fall all over him; who is willing to banter with him and tease him; and who is loyally devoted to someone else – her husband Mike.


Felix the movie star and Becky the pie-baking housewife strike up an improbable friendship – mostly over the phone. Becky is in Utah, and enmeshed in a strong Mormon community, and Felix runs around between L.A. and New York and Europe and wherever else his art and desire for entertainment take him.

Over the course of eleven years, they remain, for the most part, good friends, and Felix becomes a part of her family. It is not easy at first; Becky’s Mormon community is wary of a friendship between two different sexes. But Becky’s commitment to her new friend is as unwavering as her love for her husband and family, and eventually everyone accepts that somehow, this is part of God’s plan.

Yes, this is Christian chick lit, but to me this makes it more believable rather than less so. America is, after all, a fairly religious nation, and regardless of what you think about that, stories about people for whom religion plays a central role are realistic stories. The ending therefore, is not what you might expect from a purely chick lit genre. But it suits the book.

There are a few aspects of the book that stretch the imagination. The repartee between Becky and Felix is so consistently quick and witty you are better off just enjoying it than asking if such unscripted conversations would be possible. Becky’s marriage to an extremely wonderful husband is a little too perfect, but who knows? Maybe it could really happen!

The screenplay within the screenplay trope of the book is clever, and there is a little tribute to Jane Eyre tucked into page 116. This is not a book that will offend anyone with language or sexuality. Becky can be a little frustrating, but ultimately she’s quite likeable, as are Felix, Mike, and Becky’s children. This lovely, bittersweet book will make a good summer read.

Published by Bloomsbury USA, 2009

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5 Responses to Review of “The Actor and the Housewife” by Shannon Hale

  1. Nely says:

    It sounds better than I thought. I have a review copy but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I guess I’ll have to sooner than later. Great review.

  2. Belle says:

    I’ve been wondering about this book – it’s got a great storyline. I’m very curious now as to the ending! It definitely sounds like something nice for the beach this summer.

  3. bermudaonion says:

    I don’t mind suspending belief when I read. This book sounds like fun!

  4. Margot says:

    A Christian book about adult relationships is rare. And, if it’s is good, that’s really rare. Now you have me interested.

  5. janelle says:

    In a twitter message you said the heroine isn’t beautiful. Now that does intrigue me. Sounds like a good summer read.

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