From the moment he was born, Julian Wainwright has lived a life of Waspy privilege. The son of a Yale-educated investment banker, he grew up in a huge apartment on Sutton Place, high above the East River, and attended a tony Manhattan private school. Yet, more than anything, he wants to get outout from under his parents influence, off to Graymont College, in western Massachusetts, where he hopes to become a writer.
When he arrives, in the fall of 1986, Julian meets Carter Heinz, a scholarship student from California with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship. Carters mother, desperate to save money for his college education, used to buy him reversible clothing, figuring she was getting two items for the price of one. Now, spending time with Julian, Carter seethes with resentment. He swears he will grow up to be wealthywealthier, even, than Julian himself.
Then, one day, flipping through the college facebook, Julian and Carter see a photo of Mia Mendelsohn. Mia from Montreal, they call her. Beautiful, Jewish, the daughter of a physics professor at McGill, Mia is Julian and Carter agree dreamy, urbane, stylish, refined.
But Julian gets to Mia first, meeting her by chance in the college laundry room. Soon they begin a love affair thatspurred on by family tragedywill carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, over the next ten years. Then Carter reappears, working for an Internet company in California, and he throws everyones life into turmoil: Julians, Mias, his own.
Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is about love and friendship, about money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It asks what happens to a marriage when it is confronted by betrayal and the specter of mortality. What happens when people marry younger than theyd expected? Can love endure the passing of time?
In its emotional honesty, its luminous prose, its generosity and wry wit, Matrimony is a beautifully detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someoneto do it when youre young, and to try to do it afresh on the brink of middle age.
Henkin keeps you reading with original characters, witty dialogue and a view that marriage, for all its flaws, is worth the trouble."
Many scenes are too long, and never get below the surface of the cast, particularly wannabe-litterateur Julian.
Ragged, but it gets to you and stays with you. Expect even better things from Henkin in the future.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
Mr. Henkin writes with a winningly anachronistic absence of showiness. There are no big themes or symbols in Matrimony. The idea of matrimony is not treated as a metaphor, nor is it burdened with the weight of heightened realism.
While not earthshakingly original, this novel takes a good look at love, friendship, and marriage from the Reagan years to the new century.
Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson
Henkin never artificially amps up his material, instead allowing the quiet accumulation of his characters' shared experiences to create for his readers a world they will recognize and relate to.
Joan Silber, author of National Book Award Finalist Ideas of Heaven
With vibrant intelligence, Matrimony looks at the mystery of how a couple stays together and the ways even the most privileged among us are subject to the disasters wrought by our incalculable natures. A luminous tale, eloquently told.
Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Tea
The rich rewards of dailyness, the complexity of ordinary human connection, the unexpected ways that love endures, and the frequently hilarious ironies of modern life are on full display in this warm-hearted, clear-eyed novel. Henkin's portrait of a marriage is a portrait of us all
Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening
Joshua Henkin's Matrimony is a deliciously old-fashioned novel. With no gimmicks, no tricks, Henkin gives us a cast of complex, flawed, utterly real characters, exploring their inner lives with an astonishing sureness of touch. Beautifully written and deeply felt, Matrimony is a miracle of intelligence and heart.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
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