The Anniversary by Ahava Trivadi is a 142-page story in The Hopeless Husband Series. This is the first novel in the series and was free as a purchase on Amazon. The next book in the series, Wife Swap, sells for USD 2.99. Classified by Amazon as General humorous fiction, I found nothing offensive as far as language or context but there are painful situations presented with sarcasm and wit.
Franny is a veteran teacher Art at Summerfield Secondary School. She has been there twenty years and blends into the wallpaper by choice. Franny hates the office politics of the school system and hates, even more, the gossip and rude social behavior she sees almost everywhere in the school. She doesn’t take rude behavior from students seriously, believing it is her job to gently guide students along a better path. Due to her engaging manner with students and volunteering of her own time to provide extra classes, she is popular with students, parents, and her colleagues even though she seldom interacts with the latter group. The title for this story comes from the fact that this is her twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. It is only at this point that she makes her first real friend, Emmy, a new teacher for whom Franny believes she can be a mentor. They are friends and colleagues for several months before Franny reveals a secret.
John Webb is a teacher of German language at Summerfield. John is one of the worst teachers a student could meet. He insults them, ignores them, looks down upon them, and gives lots of homework so inattentive colleagues or supervisors might think he is teaching. In the classroom, John daydreams of the day his memoirs will be published, he will skyrocket to fame and riches, and will no longer have to work. John has a very high opinion of himself which he shares with anyone and everyone. No matter the subject of the conversation taking place, John attempts to highjack it and move the subject to his book and his superior writing abilities. At home, he brags to his wife and children about his superior abilities and insights, especially when compared to the inadequacies of others, to include his family members.
John Webb is married to Franny. Twenty-one-year-old son Ed lives at home, attends university, and either ignores John or occasionally puts his father in his place. Eighteen-year-old daughter Lucy takes lots of pills to either quell anger at her father or to relieve depression at his thoughtless acts. Franny simply puts up with John’s thoughtless activities. She, along with daughter and son, leave the house on Thursdays when John tries out each of the 350 whistles in his collection. Other nights they are forced at the dinner table to listen to his soliloquy in praise of himself. John has never remembered or has avoided every one of Franny’s birthdays. The same was true of wedding anniversaries. In this short story, Franny has decided to lay down the law. Pointing out John’s “forgetfulness,” Franny details, and makes John write down, exactly what she wants done for their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary celebration. John will apparently agree but will then attempt to delegate every task to someone else because he can not spare time from writing his bestseller.
It is the relationship between Franny and John that I find painful to read. Although Franny is submissive for all her life up to this point, I find the idea of a wasted life painful. Franny believes that John will accede to her detailed demands. She doesn’t know that John has enlisted his students to write a series of sweet sentiments to be delivered during an anniversary dinner. He has enlisted son Ed to figure out a gift. As John was looking for a gift online at Amazon, he found the perfect gift for Franny. He would buy her the works of Kafka that he had wanted to read for a long time. Franny could read it with him.
Why had Franny waited so late to demand her husband’s attention? She may not have done it if not for Emma. As Franny was introducing Emma to the school during her intern year, Emma mentioned to Franny the wonderful treatment she received from her husband for every birthday, anniversary and special holiday. Emma also shared her opinions of other teachers with Franny. The only teacher she could not stand talking with was John. When she found out after a few months that Franny was John’s wife, their friendship became closer. Emma attempted to help her friend assert herself although the demands of Franny on John were the result more of jealousy than from Emma’s suggestions. Emma will be invited to the wedding anniversary dinner at Franny’s house. John will make his first attempt ever at cooking a meal.
There are a few surprises and attempted deceptions. The story has humor but not the-laughing-out-loud type. It is entertaining to watch how the clueless John never quite realizes how clueless he is. This is a four-star Amazon quick read. And it’s free.
There is also bonus material which is free. Click on the link at the end of The Anniversary and you get the bonus material which is a collection of eight diary entries by John. These are part of the material which he will publish in his novel. Appropriately for John, the title is Memoirs of Greatness. To give you an idea of how clueless John is, consider this. Every day before class john goes to the staff breakroom for a cup of coffee. He doesn’t stand in the queue for coffee. He passes everyone in the line. This is his diary entry: “I’ve often wondered why they stand there in wait but I’ve finally figured it out: I really think it’s to get a glimpse of moi.” Bonus Material (Kindle Locations 164-165)