We'd been married nearly a decade, yet we knew so little. Nobody else seemed to know much, either. When I looked around my block or my city, among my family and friends, I found many happy marriages, filled with qualities I envied, but not a single one for which I'd want to trade. Some had combustive chemistry but cycled through burnout and renewal. Others had financial security but had traded footloose selves for traditional roles, and that seemed hard, too. Becoming parents had helped nobody, and the standard remediesthe date nights, the weekend getawaysoften felt cosmetic and under-gunned, like opening a beautifully wrapped and ribboned box to find one's own clothes. I felt changed by marriage, shaped by marriage, mostly for the better. But it also scared me. Dan was my "elected homeland of the heart," to borrow a phrase from Madeleine Kamman's When French Women Cook, one of his favorite books. I needed him. He understood me and he loved menobody else in the world offered both. Still the images of marriage I found most arresting I also found most troubling. Along with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, I adored John Updike's The Maples Stories, stories in which twelve years of marriage feel "almost too long" and Joan and Richard Maples are jaded and hard. In "Twin Beds in Rome," the couple flies to Italy to "cure or kill" their union. The whole vacation is a gauntlet thrown. "You're such a nice woman," Richard says to Joan as they unpack in their hotel. "I can't understand why I'm so miserable with you."
I didn't want this narrativenobody did. Still, Dan was not completely enthusiastic about my marriage improvement concept, at least at first. He fearednot mistakenly, it turned outthat marriage is not great terrain for overachievers. That first night, in our bedroom, he met my marriage-as-waves-on-the-ocean analogy with the veiled threat of California ranch-hand wisdom: If you're going to poke around the bushes, you'd better be prepared to scare out some snakes.
Excerpted from No Cheating, No Dying by Elizabeth Weil. Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth Weil. Excerpted by permission of Scribner. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!
Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only
The Angel of Losses
"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist
Solve this clue:
and be entered to win..
Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.
Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.