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book review with *spoilers* - MONOGAMY by Sue Miller

Hmm, where to start?

The book was fine.

I picked it up because of the title, and I chose to read it because of the synopsis.

Now that I've finished it (a struggle), I realize now that I was expecting to gain a lot from this novel and perhaps that is why I felt let down about half way through.

I was expecting insights about families that I hadn't thought of, profound understandings about married life, and maybe even some taboo romance.

Alas I didn't get any of these. Instead we get two divorcees who are married, have been for thirty years, the husband has an affair that was not sparked by any type of love or affection for the other woman but by his love of life itself, and then he dies, and then his wife is consumed by grief. Only she's not really consumed. Yes, she is full of sadness and sorrow but I wouldn't say consumed is the right word... she's just really sad.

And then she's angry when she finds out that he had cheated on her shortly before he died. She wonders if he ever really loved her. The usual, of course.

And we don't realize that she's actually really really sad until the last three pages when she has a strange epiphany that anyone else could've seen coming from page one. She realizes Graham did in fact love her, he didn't intend to hurt her by having sex with another woman, he only wanted to have fun but the fun caused a riff in their marriage which made daily life at home with one another a bit uncomfy. Annie wishes she could've given more of herself to Graham, but then in the next thought realizes she gave him everything and that he simply needed more. And then she realizes that if she had only realized this while he was still living, things might've been better. Because all she wanted was for him to be at ease, be himself, and be present with her.

So, basically, it's Annie reflecting on the fact that maybe monogamy wasn't the best choice for Graham, given his relationship history, and she regrets that it took her their entire lives to realize this. No further explanation or exploration of other ways in which a family or partnership could work. And she never really realizes that there are other issues more important that the fact that her husband had an affair which he was very deeply sorry for. Just Annie being sad. The end.

Thus, three stars.

Also, Sue Miller loves ellipses... a lot.


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