Jonathan, I must say you tricked me, not once but several times, in that I convinced myself that the plot was moving in a certain direction only to find out that you were taking your characters elsewhere. This is a very good thing. But the first puzzlement that surfaced while I was playing dodge-ball with this text was why William obsessed about Lulu so much. When Lulu’s face is described early in the book by a reference to Mr. Potato Head (very funny, I must say) I knew what was working on William was more than just Lulu’s looks.
Back to reading against type: it’s a shame that more men are not likely to pick up this book because if they did, maybe they would gain a greater appreciation of how marriage can be viewed by the other gender. This story is told in first person, it’s Julia’s story and the marriage is seen from her perspective. We see, Joe, her husband from the outside. I share what I believe is the Jaces’ frustration that we never hear Joe’s side of the story. By the time I got halfway through the novel I was already taking Joe’s side even though I believe that it was the author’s intention that I not do so.
Fortune and poor judgment thrust Harry into situations not designed for the squeamish; eventually, I had to stop reading the book on the train to work because the several scenes were so cringe-inducing that my groans and facial gymnastics were attracting more attention than I really wanted. As well, I agree with your assessment of the development of Harry in many ways. In a way, much like in Harry’s relationships on the page, he is a hard man for a reader to like. Even his “good deeds” have a motivation that is questionable at best and lecherous at worst.