Sleeping with Ward Cleaver by Jennifer Gardiner

When I saw the title of this book I thought this was sure to put a smile on my face. And, although I would still classify this as a comedy, it appealed to all of my emotions and hit close to home many times.
Claire Doolittle is a wife and mother of 5 who has NO time to herself. Between raising kids, working part-time, running numerous errands, and keeping up the house, she struggles to fine some me time. And, being married to Ward...I mean Jack doesn't help.
Jack Doolittle is an accomplished architect who suffers from control issues. Throughout their marriage he has slowly lost his sense of adventure and fun and has slipped easily into the shoes of TV icon Ward Cleaver. His ideal is when Claire completes all of the items in HIS to-do-list and the kids are perfectly behaved - this way he can come home and relax with no interruptions. So much for being a parent.
Claire wonders what has happened to her spontaneous, romantic, and attentive husband. She feels as if her marriage is going downhill fast and isn't sure if she even feels bad about this. She blames Jack for the majority of the problems that they are having. So, when Todd walks back (or emails as the case may be) into her life, she is ready for some sweet talk, even if it is from the man who ripped out her heart years earlier, and made her question the woman she was and what she did to make him treat her that way. She strikes up an online friendship with him, and somewhat of a flirtation. I believe the author summed up the emotion of love (past or present) when she wrote "I think that an emotion as intense as love shape-shifts into some other passion that encompasses love but then can be tainted by hatred, anger, or bitterness".
But, even though Claire is flirting with an old flame, when she goes to a dinner party for Jack's architecture firm and sees Jack's new associate Julia hanging on his every word she just about explodes. Julia is young, beautiful, has a perfect body, and is somehow able to bring out the "old" Jack - someone she hasn't seen in a long time. And he seems totally enamored by her.

I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, but let me say that any wife or mother should easily be able to relate to Claire in one way or another. There are days where I too wonder what has happened to the husband I knew years ago. Changing over time is not necessarily good or bad, as long as you are able to keep the fires of love burning and continue to work as a team. Just don't give up on each other too quickly - look deep inside and see if there are things you both could change to bring back the relationship that once was...and maybe never left.
Questions for the author:
I see that not only are you an author, but a photographer as well? Do you prefer writing to photography, or are they equal passions for you?

Alas, photography sort of lapsed into oblivion once I became a mother. Long ago, before kids, I schlepped vast amounts of photography equipment wherever we went. We traveled "light" to Africa, and honestly, one of the many lenses I brought along was about two-feet long.
So once I had babies to tote with me and the ancillary accoutrements one needs for small children, I sort of lost my enthusiasm for hauling all that equipment (and didn't often have a chance to use it, although some portraits I did of my children when they were young are priceless in their hilarity!).

Plus, I was a freelance photographer, which often translated into very last-minute shoots: "I need you at a press conference in an hour!" Which doesn't work so readily with children.
So long story short, that was the end of my photography career! I am now a point-and-shoot digital girl and I've relegated myself to that. However, I do get a little camera-envy when I'm around professional photographers with amazing state-of-the-art digital equipment. So I suppose my photography gene is currently latent ;-) .
Did you enjoy working for a newspaper - do you miss it?

I worked for our college paper, Penn State's Daily Collegian, which was (and still is) one of the top-ranked college dailies in the country. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much. But I was studying broadcast journalism so soon found myself instead in radio/tv stations, which was also a lot of fun.

I currently have a column for our city paper, but believe it or not, I've never stepped foot in the office, as I simply send my column in by email.

But my recollection at both newspapers and tv/radio stations is there is a certain camaraderie there that you don't necessarily find in other jobs. Perhaps it has to do with working weird hours and covering all sorts of crazy things, but I always had fun there!
What hobbies do you enjoy pursuing when you aren't writing?

I LOVE to travel. And I love all things Italian and study Italian (though I am regressing, I fear!). For a long time I was really into cooking, but don't find I have the time for that much any more, and honestly, my family could have cared less about what I was feeding them so I've taken the hint and simplified on that end of things! I also quilted a lot up until the past couple of years, and when I am idle, at my kids' sporting events, I'll usually bring along some quilting or needlework to keep me occupied while I watch their games.