The Story of a Marriage
by Andrew Sean Greer
Set in San Francisco in 1953, THE STORY OF A MARRIAGE is about Pearlie, good wife and mother, who gradually discovers that her life isnít what she thought it was.
Pearlie becomes engaged to Holland, her childhood sweetheart, when he returns, traumatised, from the war. His aunts had warned her about the weakness of her future husbandís heart and, in her innocence, Pearlie takes the advice literally. From then on, she protects him like a piece of delicate china and for years cuts any disturbing articles out of the newspaper so as not to upset him. Then, one day, one of his old friends turns up on the doorstep, Hollandís past catches up with him and her life begins to unravel.
In many ways, this novel is reminiscent of Todd Haynesí excellent 2002 film, FAR FROM HEAVEN: not only does it deal with similar themes but it is written from the point of view of a woman struggling to save her marriage within the repressive climate of the 1950s. Greer writes beautifully and evocatively of the period and cleverly gives voice to Pearlie - grave and thoughtful and yet bewildered by her situation:
ďAt the time, my sense was that marriage was like a hotel shower: you get the temperature right and someone just beyond the wall turns on his shower and you are stung with ice water, you adjust the heat only to hear him yelp from pain, he adjusts his, and so on until you reach a tepid compromise that both of you can endure.Ē
This surprising and moving novel is about the chaotic pas de deux that is a marriage, the many varied forms that love can take and the mystery that is other people.
THE STORY OF A MARRIAGE is still in hardback but can be bought from Amazon (see link above, below the cover image) for £7.79.