Philip Tate is one of the lucky ones. At 45, he has everything good looks, a devoted family, a distinguished medical career. But something is wrong. Something has prompted him to return to the most secret, thrilling act of his adolescence housebreaking. He has no intention of stealing anything. He doesn't want to hurt anyone. So why would he do it? Why would he risk everything to commit a truly irrational act? Herein lies the heart of John L'Heureux's wry, witty, and engaging new novel.
The story begins with a cozy but dreadful dinner party to celebrate Philip's appointment as the new Chair of Psychology at the prestigious university medical school where he works. Looking around the room at his handsome, affluent friends, Philip is struck with the overwhelming urge to escape his straitjacket life and run away screaming.
The moment passes, but not for long. Later that night, after Philip's smart and beautiful wife Maggie has once again passed out from too much alcohol and too many pills, he slips out of bed and goes for a drive. He ends up at the home of Hal Kizer, a new psychiatrist at the medical school, and his beautiful young wife Dixie. With his heart pounding, Philip finds the key, turns the lock, and steps inside.
It is a foolish risk, and Dixie catches him. However, she is bitterly unhappy in her own marriage, and the unexpected encounter leads Philip to a one-night fling, not criminal prosecution.
Wracked by guilt, he eventually confesses his infidelity to Maggie. Her addictions worsen, and begin to attract the attention of the couple's two beautiful and intelligent children, Cole and Emma. Yet, as the family gets closer, Philip and Maggie realize that their perfect children are far more complicated than they had ever imagined.
Through realistic dialogue and careful characterization, L'Heureux brings this troubled family to life. He also provides a colorful cast of supporting characters, including the wife of one of Philip's older colleagues, who serves her husband cold cereal for dinner every night but helps keep Maggie afloat with her warmth and compassion.
Readers will find themselves pulling for the Tates as they struggle to put their lives back together. Having Everything is a fascinating exploration of what happens when having it all isn't nearly enough.
Beth Duris works for The Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.