Once again Sue Miller takes us deep into the private lives of women with this mesmerizing portrait of two marriages exposed in all their shame and imperfection, and in their obdurate, unyielding love.
Meri is newly married, pregnant, and standing on the cusp of her life as a wife and mother, recognizing with some terror the gap between reality and expectation.
Delia Naughton, wife of the two-term liberal senator Tom Naughton, is Meri's new neighbor in the adjacent New England town house. Delia's husband's chronic infidelity has been an open secret in Washington circles, but despite the complexity of their relationship, the bond between them remains strong.
What keeps people together, even in the midst of profound betrayal? How can a journey imperiled by, and sometimes indistinguishable from, compromise and disappointment culminate in healing and grace? Delia and Meri find themselves leading strangely parallel lives, both reckoning with the contours and mysteries of marriage, one refined and abraded by years of complicated intimacy, the other barely begun.
Here are all the things for which Sue Miller has always been beloved: the complexity of experience precisely rendered, the richness of character and emotion, and the superb economy of style, fused with an utterly engrossing story.
©2008 Sue Miller; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
"Provocative.... Miller brings into stark yet uplifting relief the limitations of morality when confronted with love." (Kirkus Reviews)
Addicted to Audible!
I was completely engaged by this story until the very disturbing ending, which made me feel cheated. The relationship between the two neighbors in the novel -- one a newlywed in her late 30s, the other a woman of about 75 who has had an unorthodox marriage to a prominent politician -- is very rich and compelling. The often irritating younger character, Meri (does this woman ever think of the consequences of anything she does?), blossoms within the friendship, and the older character, Delia, is fascinating -- as fiercely loyal as she is independent.
But what Miller decides to do with these women and their husbands at the end of the book is disturbing and distasteful -- without revealing the ending, I can say that I felt as if the time and energy I invested in these characters was wasted. I'm giving it three stars because parts of it are wonderful, but I honestly felt betrayed as a reader/listener at the end.
If this were only a basic tale of the devolution and redemption of two marriages and two women it would be enough, written with Sue Miller's skillful rendering of detail and sensitive exploration of emotional nuance. But Miller punctuates the situations with a moment of daring that is truly original, that elevates this novel from the realm of a simple still life into a powerful and affirming narrative that inspires and empowers. Brava!
I loved this book. It was similar in feel to "The Corrections" by Jonathan Fraizer.
The characters, ALL of the characters, while not always 'likable' are certainly human and behave in ways we have all witnessed people behave. Even the end, while I too was disappointed, it was, as the entire book was, true to life. I would have liked to have it end differently, but this book was telling its own story, and its characters had their own personalities and weaknesses. To have another kind of ending would not have been true to the characters or in keeping with the story. Life, as they say, is not fair.
I think I have read almost every book Sue Miller has written and she has done it again. Found a way to spin yet another story that is totally different from the others. Her knowledge of the feminine human heart is incredible and she portrays well the intricacies of relationships between men and women. I particularly liked the way she illustrated - diary style - a lifetime relationship between Tom, the senator, and his wife Delia seen through the eyes of Meri, their young neighbor and how Delia herself got to learn about a similar relationship to hers and Tom, that of Anne Apthorp through letters found after Anne's death. Couples' lives are much more than what you see from the surface. Great narration also on this book!
Give me a break. I couldn't feel any real connection with the characters. Well, maybe I was pretty angry for the senator's wife. This is a novel about two husbands who are truly idiotic, unfeeling and self-centered and about the two women who accept these two imbeciles as their lot in life. The end was a drag.
Lover of ideas who feels no guilt at all about her pleasures.
It was difficult for me to finish listening to this book. I thought this was partially because I invariably find stories of marital betrayal painful to listen to, regardless of the cause or the effect, and partially because the narrator's sing-song rendering of the initial narrative of tedium (however richly textured) just got on my nerves. But I'm very happy I did finish the book at last. The Senator's wife reads like a 10 hour short story in fact; a long, detailed, but hardly fascinating set up to a conclusion that is so impossibly honest it will leave you gasping for air. The final two hours are impossible to forsee and equally impossible to forget. A more shockingly naked portrayal of human sexuality you're not likely to find.
This story is going to linger with me for a while. The author's chapters on infidelity are heart wrenching. I never foresaw the twist well, not until it was very near.
I liked both female leads, sometime we're so quick to judge others' marriages. But marriages are complex, none are the same and yet people love to judge them through some uniform code. I liked the looking glass Miller provided into these two marriages. But it is NOT a feel good book. Read at your own risk to your heart.
Love, love, love this book! I read it when it first came out and knew I had to listen to it as well. Blair Brown is a fantastic narrator. Loved the characters. I almost felt sorry for Deliah, but was annoyed that she let herself be a doormat for years to her Senator husband. Meri proved herself to be a spineless woman who snooped through Deliah's life. I would of thought that Meri's husband would have ditched her, but he stayed married to her...great book!
About 9 hours and 26 minutes of character development and one hour of plot (if you can call it that). The author is talented in developing the characters and there are definitely some moments of truth but I was disappointed. I started this book with a libraby audio book and then downloaded it when I realized the sixth disc was all scratched up. Had I known I would never have wasted the credit.
If you prefer to fall in love with the main characters of your novels, or at least really like them, than this won't be a great pick. There's a whole lot to dislike about the 2 women at the centre of this book and the questionable choices that bring them together, but it nevertheless makes for a great listen. The ending? Visceral. Wrenching. Perfect. You'll be thinking about this one long after its over.
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