Throughout Lily Tuck's career, she's been praised by critics for her crisp, lean language and sensuous explorations of exotic locales and complex psychologies. From Siam to Paraguay and beyond, Tuck inspires readers to travel into unfamiliar realms, and her newest novel is no exception. Slender, potent, and utterly engaging, I Married You For Happiness combines marriage, mathematics, and the probability of an afterlife to create Tuck's most affecting and riveting book yet.
"His hand is growing cold, still she holds it" is how this novel that tells the story of a marriage begins. The tale unfolds over a single night as Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Still too shocked to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long union, beginning with their meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician - a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love. As we move through select memories - real and imagined - Tuck reveals the most private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys that defined Nina and Philip's life together.
Even though Tuck profiles a marriage at its most vulnerable and tragic moments, she also vividly portrays the pleasures and strengths of a marriage partnership. And the ending, although ambiguous and certainly surprising, is the perfect distillation of the novel's themes and preoccupations. Tuck writes both clearly and concisely about mathematics; her explications of complicated problems such as the Schrödinger's cat paradox dovetail nicely with the rest of the narrative, echoing, but never upstaging, the novel's other themes. (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).
The writing is lyrical and striking, vividly capturing the nature of memory and the way in which love, though never simple, is contained and proven in the small, indelible moments of our lives.
The Boston Globe
Beautiful... Tuck produces spare prose that doesn't sacrifice tension or emotion in its economy.... An artfully crafted still life of one couple's marriage.
A full and satisfying portrayal of a marriage... Great fodder for readers who enjoy pondering life's larger questions.
Does the couple's mutual happiness provide a Hegelian synthesis? Not quite, though Tuck's crisp writing is a joy.
Starred Review. A breathlessly mannered, affecting new work... Small, vital snapshots make up two lives closely shared, and beautifully portrayed in this triumph of a novel.
One classic thought experiment (i.e. an experiment that is purely theoretical but could never be actually carried out) that plays a pivotal role in I Married You for Happiness is the famous case of Schrödinger's cat. "Something else about a cat," Nina recalls. "Something she can never quite grasp. Tell me again, she whispers to Philip. This time, I promise, I'll try to understand."
In everyday life, at the macroscopic level, we can explain the physics of how things move; if you hit a billiard ball with a pool cue with a certain force, you can calculate where it will end up. But when dealing with near-invisible particles at a very small scale, it's a completely different ballgame. It has been discovered that determining where and how these particles move isn't predictable in the classical sense; their properties are erratic. So these particles are studied in terms of probability; it's probable that any given particle will be located here at a certain time, or it's probable that it will be moving at this velocity. This type of...
On the verge of giving upanchored to dreams that never came true and to people who have long since disappeared from their livesVan Booy's characters walk the streets of these stark and beautiful stories until chance meetings with strangers force them to face responsibility for lives they thought had continued on without them.
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