Tag Archives: marriage

* Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley

In Late in the Day, a man dies and his wife and their best friends lose their minds (I say, uncharitably). The story alternates between the current days of grief and the past history of the four, a tad complicated and entangled, with foreshadowing of the current and fatal entanglement. I grew bored of the foursome’s banal lives–but not without admiring the apt observations and engaging style of the author.

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Filed under New fiction

*** The Widower’s Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer

Jonathan Santlofer’s wife died suddenly and unexpectedly after what was supposed to be routine surgery — and to this day he has never received a precise accounting of what happened. The memoir describes his grief, the solace of his work, the minutiae of after-death, and his entire marriage.

Sad but absolutely not depressing, and with a lovely description of his relationship with his daughter.

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* One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan

The woman and man that stars in One Part Woman are perfectly happy, but their lack of children makes them a target for jokes, deep concern from their parents, and harassment, from friends and enemies alike. So they dutifully trudge to temples and festivals, trying to get the pregnancy that will deliver them from the stigma of childlessness.

I enjoyed the first 100 pages or so, as the couple endures humiliations and taunts despite being quite satisfied with their marriage themselves. And then, the story seems to repeat itself over and over again until the end. Too bad, the beginning had quite a pleasant mix of exoticism, marriage wisdom, and social constraints.

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* Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

Alternate Side is not as silly as The Awkward Age because it’s filled with small asides of well observed details. For instance, the heroine has a new (male) temp who gives her a perfect heads-up on a panicked call from her daughter, which causes her to ask whether he has sisters. Yes, we would ask that same question! But the petty dramas of a privileged New York cul-de-sac seemed, to me at least, to be petty and predictable.

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*** The Only Story by Julian Barnes

A 19-year old meets a woman his mother’s age and they fall in love. They get kicked out of the tennis club. She leaves her husband. It won’t end well, but it will take decades (and lots and lots of drinking!) to get there. The Only Story takes us through the entire cycle and describes, in details and with wonderful irony, the horrified reactions of everyone around them and the awkward adjustments they have to make. The story is sad, of course, but also full of hilarious embarrassing moments.

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** Feast Days by Ian MacKenzie

Feast Days stars the wife of a young, ambitious American banker who has been dispatched to Sao Paulo. She is jobless, adrift, and curious about the country she just landed in. She tries her luck as an English tutor and experiences the ambitious status of that position. She goes to protests. She travels. And she reminisces about her husband’s and her courtship, which contrasts badly with the unravelling state of their marriage. The race and tone seem to unravel by the end of this (short) novel but the first two thirds are brilliantly captured.

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* The Heart is a Shifting Sea by Elizabeth Flock

The Heart Is a Shifting Sea: Love and Marriage in Mumbai collects the stories of three Mumbai couples, from courtship to about a decade into their marriages. They have different religions and ages, and all middle class. And they struggle, with affairs and stepfamilies, and general unease at having married someone they no longer recognize. I suppose one could enjoy the voyeur’s view of these couples’ lives. I found the stories mostly dull.

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Filed under Non fiction