We think we know the ones we love. So Pearlie Cook begins her indirect and devastating exploration of the mystery at the heart of every relationship, how we can ever truly know another person.
It is 1953 and Pearlie, a dutiful housewife, finds herself living in the Sunset district of San Francisco, caring not only for her husbands fragile health but also for her son, who is afflicted with polio. Then, one Saturday morning, a stranger appears on her doorstep and everything changes. All the certainties by which Pearlie has lived are thrown into doubt. Does she know her husband at all? And what does the stranger want in return for his offer of $100,000? For six months in 1953, young Pearlie Cook struggles to understand the world around her, most especially her husband, Holland.
Pearlies story is a meditation not only on love but also on the effects of warwith one war just over and another one in Korea coming to a close. Set in a climate of fear and repressionpolitical, sexual, and racialThe Story of a Marriage portrays three people trapped by the confines of their era, and the desperate measures they are prepared to take to escape it. Lyrical and surprising, The Story of a Marriage looks back at a period that we tend to misremember as one of innocence and simplicity.
The Story of a Marriage
We think we know the ones we love.
Our husbands, our wives. We know themwe are them, sometimes; when separated at a party we find ourselves voicing their opinions, their taste in food or books, telling an anecdote that never happened to us but happened to them. We watch their tics of conversation, of driving and dressing, how they touch a sugar cube to their coffee and stare as it turns white to brown, then drop it, satisfied, into the cup. I watched my own husband do that every morning; I was a vigilant wife.
We think we know them. We think we love them. But what we love turns out to be a poor translation, a translation we ourselves have made, from a language we barely know. We try to get past it to the original, but we never can. We have seen it all. But what have we really understood?
One morning we awaken. Beside us, that familiar sleeping body in the bed: a new kind of stranger. For me, it came in 1953. That was when I stood in my ...
With prose so fine it demands slow savoring, and a plot so intriguing it demands breathless page-turning, The Story of a Marriage also serves as a gorgeous meditation on romantic partnership, the great mystery of knowing another, and what knowing someone really means. It's a novel that invites open-ended pondering, reconstructed theories, a-ha!-moments, and meaty discussions. Just when you think you've figured it out, out pops another brilliant star or passing cloud to alter the constellation. Which is, come to think of it, kind of like a marriage.
(Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
Full Review (1219 words).
Conscientious Objectors during WWII
"This is a war story. It was not meant to be. It started as a love story, the story of a marriage, but the war has stuck to everywhere like shattered glass. Not an ordinary story of men in battle, but of those who did not go to war. The cowards and shirkers; those who let an error keep them from their duty, those who saw it and hid, those who stood up and refused it, even those too young to know that one day they would rise and flee their own country... The story of those men, and of a woman in a ...
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