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Information and reviews for Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story
Released date: March 24, 2009
Publisher: Scribner
Audio c.d. and paperback book also available



Glamour Magazine March 2009

Must Do's of the Month! Everything you're going to love fore the next 31 days!

Read: Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies

Gillies had the perfect life with the man of her dreams- until she watched him fall in love with another woman in their small college town. A Memoir so raw you feel like it's your best friend telling you her story.


Entertainment Weekly Magazine March 27, 2009

Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story Isabel Gillies


by Leah Greenblatt

The heartbreakingly banal truth at the crux of Isabel Gillies' debut memoir is this: "When one person really wants to go, there is nothing you can do about it but watch them." Happens Every Day is her unevenly written but emotionally involving account of a marriage that seemed nearly perfect- until the day it wasn't. Gillies, an actress best known for her recurring role as Detective Stabler's wife on Law and Order: SVU, begins her tale several years ago in her family's lovingly restored Ohio dream house. Her foxy Ivy League husband, Josiah, has just accepted a tenured job at a highly regarded liberal arts college, her two young sons are thriving, and the author herself, a native New Yorker, is already taken with the bucolic charms of her adopted Midwestern town. By the first chapter's end, however, the wrecking ball has swung: Within a month, Josiah leaves her for a pixieish fellow professor, and the life- house, children, marriage- that Gillies and her husband spent seven years building together is demolished.

It's to Gillies' credit that she stays as evenhanded as she does in the story that follows- and it's a boon to her ex, since the book will be featured prominently in 7,000 Starbucks nationwide. But as a first-time author, she really could have used a stronger editor. Gillies often wanders off on awkward tangents, and the frequent lack of verb contractions can make what should be passionate exchanges sound oddly stilted and robotic ("How do I know that we will be alright?" "I just think we will be happier"). At times, it's also hard to sympathized with Gillies. Her rarefied circumstances- she's a Manhattan-bred, Maine-summering blue blood who, as she tells us, once graced the cover of Seventeen and dated Mick Jagger- don't exactly leave her without a safety net. Still, her collapse feels real, and in Happens Every Day there's redemptive grace in her struggle, if not always in her prose. B


People Magazine March 30, 2009

Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies I * * * (out of four stars)

Reviewed by Moira Bailey

Memior Not long after actress Isabel GIllies (Law and Order) finds her poet-professor husband lovingly decorating the bathroom with family photos, her marriage is down the toilet- flushed by an Audrey Hepburn-esque lit teacher who's harnessed "Josiah"'s heart in breakneck pentameter. The other woman's take on dads who leave their families: "It happens every day." Gillies (now happily remarried) movingly evokes the salt-on-wound sadness of loving a spouse turned stranger.

Photo by: David A. Land

Gotham Magazine, April 2009

True Confessions

While growing up in New York City, I befriended Isabel Gillies- a funny, cool, quirky girl in my age group. Her model good looks landed her on the cover of Seventeen when she was 15. In her twenties she was a strong, independent woman who dated famous actors and starred in the Whit Stillman cult film Metropolitan before landing a recurring role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

            In her thirties, Gillies married a great-looking man who was getting his PhD in poetry at Harvard. They had two beautiful sons and moved to Ohio, where he got a teaching job at Oberlin College. Soon afterward, her husband left her for another woman. I immediately thought, How could this happen to her?

            Well, it did happen to her, and she recounts the experience in her new and courageously dignified memoir, Happens Every Day: An All Too True Story (Scribner). The oft-told tale sees Gillies taking the high road through an amicable separation that many New York divorces could do well to emulate. “In trying to be polite friends, you kind of trick yourself into actually feeling that way,” she explains. “I had to be strong for my boys.”

            Heeding the words of her father- “I’d rather light a candle than curse the darkness”, a reference to the comment originally made by Adlai Stevenson as he eulogized Eleanor Roosevelt- Gillies forged ahead. “I was glad to be home and feeding off the exquisite energy that New York oozes from every crack in the sidewalk,” she says. A few years later, she married a man “more suited to my personality.”

            She began writing the story on her BlackBerry in between errands. Every morning after dropping her kids off at school she’d head to the New York Society Library to continue her diurnal outpouring, a process that ended three months later in an unexpected cathartic moment. “It seemed like something I was doing as a ‘job’, and then on the last day I wrote the last sentence, put the period on the end of it, and went into the stairwell and sobbed my heart out,” she says. “My whole life my mother always said, ‘Don’t talk about yourself. Don’t talk about yourself.’ And suddenly I throw up this memoir. So I was terrified.” Happen Every Day: An All Too True Story will be available this month at bookstores citywide. –Christina Greeven Cuomo


O: The Oprah Magazine April 2009

Friends without Benefits: A smart, rueful memoir of love, betrayal, and survival.

Josiah Robinson (not his real name) falls in love with Isabel Gillies (her real name) when he was 7. Fifteen years later, they remeet. This time Isabel reciprocates. Josiah, a beautiful poet ("Heathcliff with an earring"), says: "I will call you at 2:30 and if you aren't there I'll try every minute after until you are." Reader, she marries him. She abandons her New York acting career and follows him to a teaching post in Ohio.

"I missed any signs of trouble," Isabel writes in Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story (Scribner). The reader won't. Isabel throws Josiah into her new best friend Sylvia's path over and over. She makes the thing happen she is most afraid of happening.

If Gillies weren't so plucky, she would break your heart. When the blow comes, it's her sons she is most devastated for. They are blessed to have her kind of love. It's the same kind of love Isabel got growing up, mother-lode mother love.

"I am not a writer, but I have been told I write good e-mails," Gillies says. I bet. -Patricia Volk


Elle Magazine April 2009

Fallen Fairy Tale

There are certain girls who we remember from childhood because they seemed to have such charmed, enviable lives. From afar, Isabel Gillies, a former schoolmate of mine, appeared to be one such deity: a gorgeous preteen cover girl-turned-movie actress (in Whit Stillman's Metropolitan) who then married well and had to beautiful children. I never knew her, but it was impossible to not know of her. So I admit that when I cracked open Happens Every Day (Scribner), Gillies' account of being thrown over by her husband, I anticipated a bit of schadenfreude. Instead, I couldn't help but admire her bravery in exposing the dark side of her seemingly perfect life in such a good-humored, self-effacing way. (It must help that she does so from the distance of a happy second marriage.)

Writing about getting dumped is a high-wire act: If you overplay the role of victim, the reader gets suspicious. By not denouncing her husband as a total cad even as he sneaks around with a female colleague at Oberlin College, where he teaches, Gillies avoids this trap. And when she gets down on her knees in the snow in front of the other woman and says, "Please, please, I am begging you to end whatever this is," you feel nothing but the deepest sympathy for the fallen golden girl. Her plea falls on deaf ears; the divorce papers get signed, and her ex marries his mistress. If Gillies has a blind spot, it's a certain naivete about romantic love. "I believe," she writes, "in happy endings." On the other hand, she indeed gets one: just not the one she thought she would. -Ruth Davis Kongsberg

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