BookBrowse Reviews I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

I Married You for Happiness

by Lily Tuck

I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2012, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


A tender look at marriage, mathematics, life and death, and the intricacies of love

Her husband's hand is growing cold, so is the dinner Nina left downstairs while she holds vigil with her husband Philip's dead body. These are the practical, current realities that underpin Lily Tuck's novel. But although the framing narrative takes place in the course of a single night, Tuck manages, in just over two hundred pages, to tell the powerful and inspiring story of a long, fruitful marriage in all its strength and fragility.

Even as Nina contemplates the unthinkable - a life without her beloved husband - she recollects their first meeting, when they were both young and living in Paris, a world away from their native Massachusetts. "At the beginning, she makes a point to be difficult. She does not intend to be an easy conquest. She does not want to fall in love yet."

But fall in love, of course, she does - a love that survived affairs and tragedies and raising a daughter who was as beautiful as she was difficult to raise. Nina and Philip approach the world from very different directions. She is a painter, guided by emotion and beauty, easily swayed by romance and impulse. He is a mathematician, a researcher in probability, able to reduce any problem or debate to its most logical, rational terms: "Dreams, Philip says, are generated in the brain stem and are meaningless until the dreamer transforms them to suit his or her own personal characteristics. Nina disagrees. Dreams, she says, are motivated by desires."

The two approaches balance each other. Nina shows Philip that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in mathematical equations. Philip introduces Nina to a realm of possibilities, using classic problems in mathematics to illustrate the quandaries that characterize their daily lives. These problems swirl around Nina's head, mixed up with scenes from their marriage, secret sorrows that Philip never even knew, jealousies that she's harbored for years. As the night drifts along and Nina consumes more and more wine, past and present meld in her mind. Philip's scientific examples gain new emotional heft and relevance as she reflects on the mysteries of chance and the possibilities of life within, or even after death.

As in Lily Tuck's other novels, including the National Book Award-winning The News from Paraguay, I Married You for Happiness is both deeply personal and wide-ranging, touching on locales as remote as San Francisco, Hong Kong, and islands off the coast of France as it explores the deepest intimacies of the human heart.

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 problems as complicated as the Schrödinger's cat paradox dovetail nicely with the rest of the narrative, echoing, but never upstaging, the novel's other themes.

I Married You for Happiness is elegiac and joyful simultaneously - a love letter to this marriage and to the idea of marriage in general.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl

This review was originally published in October 2011, and has been updated for the September 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.



This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Schrödinger's Cat

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Blind
    The Blind
    by A.F. Brady
    In The Blind, A. F. Brady, a licensed psychotherapist, takes readers inside a residential ...
  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.