Customer Reviews for

A Happy Marriage

Average Rating 3.5
( 30 )
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  • Posted July 22, 2009

    Moving, beautiful written exploration of love

    A Happy Marriage is a beautifully written story based actual events. The author, Rafael Yglesias, retells the first three weeks as a young man courting his wife, Margaret Cohen, and the last three weeks of her life. The structure of the novel enables the reader to become involved with the characters as young adults starting life and then as participants in a 30 year marriage. It is a book that will make you cry and laugh. The author is very open and honest in a way that could only have been possible because of his wife's death. He has given us a portrait of what is is to love, not in a perfect way, but in a profoud one. I recommend this book. You will be thinking about it long after you finished the last pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A true and beautiful portrait of a marriage

    "A Happy Marriage" is one of those books that will stay with me forever. Successful marriages are fascinating and every one is different in its combination of tenderness and power. But there is something that seems to be at the heart of all of them, and I have never seen it pictured so clearly as in A Happy Marriage. It goes beyond negotiating a balance in that biological imperative of male DNA wanting multiple receptors and female DNA wanting a secure environment to raise young. What Yglesias is able to do is to highlight that still point where the individual soul's need to be really known is balanced against the anger and fear that exposure brings. Usually the center of the storm can't hold, but in a successful marriage, somehow both people are able to hang on for dear life and make it through, even if they don't know how or even why. By the time "love" as we think of it has endured 30 or more years, it becomes something else entirely, and A Happy Marriage shows in detail exactly what that is.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

    Devastatingly beautiful

    I finished reading "A Happy Marriage" two days ago (actually, I could not put it down) and am still brought almost to tears when I think if it. It is one of the most achingly beautiful, honest and devastating pieces of literature that I have ever read. And to have this beautiful love/life story told from a very male perspective was so enlightening - causing me to look at my father's infidelities, my failed marriages, and my current relationship in a different way. A very moving story....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2009

    Beautifully told

    Yglesias's novel is beautifully wrought, with meticulously crafted characters moving through the heartbreaking denouement of a thirty-year romance. Enrique, the protagonist, is saddled with the burden of herding his family through the final days of his wife Margaret's life. In between the episodes of final goodbyes and medical crises, the reader sees how their romance started and how it unfolded through their years of happy marriage.

    Of course, it could hardly be happy in the sense of blissfully moving from one joyous moment to the next. They have their problems, including the near dissolution of their marriage in its early years. What makes the reader cheer from the sidelines, even while it is revealed that Enrique had an affair, is the way he desperately wants to tell his wife, at the end of her life, how much he loves her, how much her very existence has made life worth living. His fear, as he coordinates a social calendar of final goodbyes for her friends and family, is that he won't have a chance to tell her. This fear is pervasive, and seeing how these final days unfold make the novel engrossing.

    Yglesias employs beautiful turns of phrase throughout the novel, putting words to feelings that many have experienced while dealing with the illness and death of a loved one. Enrique reveals how difficult it is to help other people cope emotionally, when he is trying so hard himself to do that as well: they were "demanding he put Band-Aids on their scrapes while he was bleeding to death" (88). Enrique deals with the demands of family, particularly Margaret's parents concern with funeral arrangements. In passages like this, Yglesias shines in describing Margaret's mother's need to control the arrangements, to have them just the way her family has always had them, because the need for something familiar would almost make one feel safe in the midst of the uncertainty of a life without Margaret (184).

    There are witty passages as well, like Enrique's internal debate about selecting pants to wear on his first date with Margaret (129). Enrique and Margaret are great conversational foils, never devolving into the pattern of saying the same things to each other repeatedly, nor remaining silent because, after all these years, there is nothing left to say. Their relationship is alive and vibrant, and they still can surprise each other when they open their mouths. This is something beautiful to see, and it makes the ending of the novel so hard to bear.

    The first chapter didn't draw me in to the novel the way that the second - and each subsequent chapter - did. I do not mention this as a critique, but rather so that readers know that they might not be enthralled on first meeting the characters, but it is worth hanging on for a few more pages to let this story get a running start.

    I think the great strength of this novel is the detailed expression of the emotions that swirl around the beginning and end of this marriage. These characters are vibrantly alive, and will remain lodged in my mind for some time now. It is an excellent read, even if it leaves the reader in tears.

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    Posted August 9, 2010

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