Sunday, August 23, 2009


The Story of a Marriage, Andrew Sean Greer, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2008, 195 pp

I liked this book. I like it when an author tweaks my heart in unexpected ways, leaving me wondering how he did it. That is the ultimate alchemy of reading. Now I know why every review I read of The Story of a Marriage led me to expect an entirely different story than what I got.

In under 200 pages, Andrew Sean Greer sets up a scenario, proceeds to reveal that scenario as false and then with tantalizing restraint, uncovers what lies deep in the hearts of his three main characters. Thereby he shows, rather than tells, the realities behind the book's first sentence: "We think we know the ones we love."

I could complain about a few minor points: the way certain revelations feel too abrupt; some unbelievability in the character of Pearlie, the wife; the first person voice that is almost omniscient third person in disguise. But if those were really issues, I doubt that the story of this marriage would have hit me so hard.

I went around for days wondering about my husband, my parents, my sons. Do I really know the ones I love?

(The Story of a Marriage is available in paperback by special order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)

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