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.
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).
The San Francisco Chronicle - Troy Jollimore
Some readers are bound to become frustrated with characters who are as mysterious on the final page as they are at the beginning. I felt this, too, but my main problem was with the prose, which too often felt showy and self-consciously literary ... I soon found myself longing for a break, for a page or even a paragraph of uninterrupted landscape description or the recounting of some straightforward physical action.
Barnes and Noble
If this insight into character is among his strengths, Greer's chief weakness is a tendency is to indulge in extended ruminations
The New Yorker - John Updike The Story of a Marriage is a sentimental, overwritten, overcalculated novel that nevertheless proves moving in the end, pulling all its prevarications and flourishes into an affirmation of the unideal everyday as it was experienced fifty years ago and, possibly, as it is even now.
The Washington Post - Carolyn See The Story of a Marriage is just that, the chronicle of one marriage, closely and elegantly examined…a plot that deepens as surprises explode unexpectedly and terrifyingly. The Story of a Marriage is more than worth the reader's attention. It's thoughtful, complex and exquisitely written.
Los Angeles Times - Deborah Vankin
Greer's short novel feels admirably worked over -- like a long-simmered sauce. He near-brilliantly juxtaposes the nuances of love, sexual awakening and the sometimes suffocating sacrifices marriage demands against broader cultural observations about political turmoil, the physical and emotional effects of war, sexual repression and racism.
The New York Times - S. Kirk Walsh
Mr. Greer seamlessly choreographs an intricate narrative that speaks authentically to the longings and desires of his characters.
Greer's best feature as a novelist is his willingness to keep trying new things. Let's hope his next book avoids the worst excesses of this one.
Starred Review. [A] a poignant account of people helpless in the throes of passion and an affirmation of the strength of the human spirit.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Michelle Something missing? I thought this book was well written and had an interesting subject matter, but I wanted to know what Holland's thoughts were. Maybe that was the point of the book - that you never really know what your partner is thinking. I think it will be a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Kim The Story of a Marriage This is certainly a very well-written, involving novel that examines the complexities of love and marriage. Greer's prose is evocative and at times almost poetic. His characters are well-drawn and three-dimensional. I do have to admit, though,... Read More
"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 window,
unable to do a thing but watch."
- The Story of a Marriage.
spoil the story to reveal too
much about the plot of The
Story of a Marriage, but the
war and not going to...
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