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Unsheltered


A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.
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Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Created: 10/16/18

Replies: 15

Posted Oct. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3058

Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?


Posted Oct. 29, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paulak

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 246

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

I think struggle and strife are generally more interesting than tranquility. Probably why so many novels are written about times of upheaval and that these extremes seem to bring out the best and the worst of we humans.


Posted Oct. 29, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Gloria

Join Date: 03/11/15

Posts: 113

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

A good plot needs on conflict and this appears to be an easy place to find it.


Posted Oct. 29, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 317

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Gloria's right -- the defining characteristic of a story is conflict. So if any human relationship is the focus of the fiction, it needs to be one with conflict. Even healthy marriages have plenty of that. While Willa and Iano have a happy marriage, still there is some conflict within it, though not the main focus of the story; this makes their characters and their relationship believable.


Posted Oct. 29, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Deb

Join Date: 09/17/18

Posts: 13

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

As Tolstoy famously said, all happy families are alike; so yes, as has been noted, the conflict resides in the unhappy ones. But also, there's the element of schadenfreude -- finding joy in the sorrows or problems of others; so we like to peek inside unhappy marriages and pat ourselves on the back that we're not like that.


Posted Oct. 30, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 386

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Many families are dysfunctional. Life is not a happily ever after fairy tale.


Posted Oct. 31, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Wicky

Join Date: 10/31/18

Posts: 7

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Although I don't disagree with the notion that unhappy domestic life may provide better fodder for a novelist, I also find it interesting that the discussion seems to be framing a "happy" marriage as inconsistent with conflict and struggle. I sort of think a happy marriage is inherently one of give and take with its share of conflict and tension. Maybe the secret is whether/how differences and conflicts are managed? With that in mind, I can think of lots of happy and fulfilling fictional marriages/relationships, even if they're not always tranquil.


Posted Nov. 02, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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patriciag

Join Date: 07/11/14

Posts: 45

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

I agree with Wicky. A successful, happy marriage is so much more about the journey than the destination. Unhappy marriages end in some kind of tragedy; crisis tears the couple apart either physically or mentally. Willa and Iano face their many daily issues from the solid foundation of their relationship and they do it together.


Posted Nov. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 256

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

So I ask: "What defines a happy marriage?" Are there certain characteristics or criteria that might lead one to evaluate a marriage as to whether it is either happy or unhappy? And then maybe sometimes it is a little of both. And, indeed, perhaps the word HAPPY itself should be defined. In conclusion, then I repeat "What defines a happy marriage?" Does anyone really know? Maybe not--so that's why we rarely read about them in novels.


Posted Nov. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judyg

Join Date: 04/20/11

Posts: 40

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

I agree with much of what Wicky and MarieA have said above. Additionally, I believe that happy marriages are so very unique to the personalities of the partners. It would be very difficult to first identify and then write about the unique characteristics of two people's commonalities, differences and the shifting perspectives that occurs when a happy couple works through conflict or hardships.


Posted Nov. 03, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeb

Join Date: 10/09/18

Posts: 44

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Agree with the need to define “happy” and that conflict is more often intersting. Probably, it is a very rare marriage that is happy every day of the time people spend together. Things have to be decided, agreed on, implimented, and defined. Within everyone one of these stages conflict may insue. Resolution promotes happy. These characters seem to be happy at this time. The trials of their lives seem to have brought them together. Maybe later things will change though they seem to have a method of solving conflicts that should make any discomfort short lived.


Posted Nov. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
emfremont

Join Date: 03/12/14

Posts: 19

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Happy marriages appear drama free,so they appear to be less interesting. But all marriages have drama because the are an ongoing relationship.


Posted Nov. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rco

Join Date: 11/04/18

Posts: 40

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

I think a happy marriage is one where the partners totally respect each other, always have each others back, and willing to give their partner their own space. Nothing worse then one partner dominating the other.
Society is so tuned into conflict between partners on reality t.v. it is just not exciting to read about two
people head over heels for each other unless they are reading some sappy sweet harlequin romance.


Posted Nov. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
candaceb

Join Date: 03/30/14

Posts: 40

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

I think , as said above, conflict and tension are usually found in any interesting story but it’s too bad that the tension and conflict in a good marriage isn’t explored more often! It’s certainly realistic to know that marriage is work and not always smooth sailing but gets stronger and better when there is a common goal that both people agree on and work toward.


Posted Nov. 04, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
charleneds

Join Date: 03/21/17

Posts: 68

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

People are drawn to the drama of an unhappy marriage - a happy marriage doesn't have that element. This book had an unhappy marriage with Rose and Thatcher. I was relieved when the marriage ended and he could be in a relationship that fulfilled him and made him happy. Mary Treat had an unhappy marriage - I was happy for her as well when she and Thatcher got together. Zeke and Helene had an unhappy relationship. I loved the relationship between Tig and Jorge - they had a great partnership.


Posted Nov. 24, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ErinJ

Join Date: 11/24/18

Posts: 5

RE: Why do you think happy marriages so rarely appear in fiction?

Probably for a variety of reasons, including those mentioned earlier about a perceived or assumed lack of dramatic tension in happy marriages. It's actually long been a frustration of mine that there aren't more instances of happy marriages in fiction. I'm so grateful every time I come across one! I think not having enough examples of happy, functional partnerships is harmful because fiction is one way we explore roles and figure out how we want to live our lives.

Perhaps we as a society have bought in too much to the concept of "happily ever after" and don't want to hear about all the work it takes to maintain it? Maybe too many authors (and readers) have experienced UNhappy marriages and view anything else as unrealistic fantasy?

It's certainly true that expectations have a great deal to do with whether a marriage is happy--for example, Rose expects Thatcher to raise her back up to her previous social and financial standing, and when he cannot meet her expectations, their marriage falls apart. Iano is lucky to be married to Willa, on the other hand, who doesn't expect him to grow up and share the burden of holding their household together (in any sense of the word) like I would in her shoes. Tig is far better off in her choice of Jorge as a life partner, I think.


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