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A Happy Marriage: A Novel
     

A Happy Marriage: A Novel

3.4 30
by Rafael Yglesias, Grover Gardner (Read by)
 

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Yglesias's career as a novelist began in 1970 when he wrote an autobiographical novel at sixteen, hailed by critics for its stunning and revelatory depiction of adolescence. A Happy Marriage, his first work of fiction in thirteen years, was inspired by his relationship with his wife, Margaret, who died in 2004.

Overview

Yglesias's career as a novelist began in 1970 when he wrote an autobiographical novel at sixteen, hailed by critics for its stunning and revelatory depiction of adolescence. A Happy Marriage, his first work of fiction in thirteen years, was inspired by his relationship with his wife, Margaret, who died in 2004.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Novelist/screenwriter Yglesias's first work of fiction in 13 years was inspired by his relationship with his late wife, Margaret, who died in 2004. It tells the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife, also named Margaret, who struggle to learn about each other and then relearn it all through the ebbs and flows of their adult lives. Between the start and the stop of their 30-year marriage is love, heartbreak, cruelty, redemption, forgiveness, and, finally, acceptance. The book is structured in alternating chapters, the first chapter introducing the very first meeting between Enrique and Margaret and the second set in the months leading up to Margaret's death from cancer. Audie Award winner Grover Gardner (grovergardner.blogspot.com) skillfully conveys the small and large tensions and drama that encapsulate this and most every other long-term relationship. For appreciators of literary fiction interested in more deeply exploring the subjects of relationships, cancer, death, and dying.—J. Sara Paulk, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Cty. Lib., GA
Malena Watrous
…full of feeling but void of bathos…The mystery of what's at the heart of a marriage can't be unlocked, or even fully captured in words. But Enrique and Margaret are anything but common, distinct both as characters and in the endurance of their love.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Yglesias (Fearless) delivers his first novel in 13 years, an autobiographical and devastatingly raw appraisal of a nearly 30-year marriage. As the novel opens in 1975, 21-year-old Enrique Sabas, a high school-dropout literary wunderkind, has just met Margaret Cohen, a vivacious, beautiful budding graphic designer who will become the love of his life. Enrique and Margaret's romantic and sexual misadventures during the first awkward weeks of their courtship are interspersed with scenes from the couple's three decades together before Margaret succumbs to cancer: raising children, losing a parent, the temptation of an easy affair. Margaret's physical decline and Enrique's acknowledgment of guilt, inadequacy and a selfish desire to postpone his loss are described in blunt, heart-wrenching detail, and Enrique's ongoing struggles to define the nature of masculinity, the significance of art and the value of marriage add a philosophical layer to the domestic snapshots. Although the couple's privileged lifestyle can get in the way of the reader-character bond, the texture of their marriage and the pain of their loss will be familiar to anyone who has shared a long-term relationship. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Autobiographical work from novelist/screenwriter Yglesias (Dr. Neruda's Cure for Evil, 1996, etc.) chronicles a man's confrontation with the imminent death of his wife. The novel begins with the 1975 meeting of precocious young novelist Enrique Sabas and beautiful, artistic Margaret Cohen in his walk-up Greenwich Village apartment, then flashes forward to the novel's present, when she begs him to help her die rather than let her suffer anymore from terminal cancer. From there, odd-numbered chapters chronicle the couple's courtship and flawed marriage; even-numbered ones return to the present, as Enrique, now a successful screenwriter, searches for the strength to help his wife bid loved ones farewell and die with dignity. The flashbacks illuminate Enrique's psychology but give the narrative a disjointed quality. The back story devolves into confessional: Enrique blames himself for unhappiness in their marriage, breast-beating over his lack of sexual self-esteem due to occasional impotence-which makes an absurd combination with a libido depicted as so ravenous that it has strained his relationship with Margaret. Enrique's painful honesty about his pathological self-consciousness and solipsism might, in lighter doses, pass for self-deprecation, but when he tells us all about the technological wonder of his Treo smartphone before turning his attention to his dying wife, he is both unlikable and impossible to take seriously. Granted, he's under extreme emotional duress. The frequency with which his mind wanders over trite details unrelated to the dire matters at hand, however, make it exceedingly hard to buy into the tragic scenario the author has set up-that Enrique has only recently becomeaware that his wife is the love of his life. Near the end, past and present scenes alternate with greater rapidity, contrasting early episodes of romance and sex with the brutal details of Margaret's progress toward death. Yglesias knows how to pluck the heartstrings but flounders in the execution. A would-be tragedy that plays unsuccessfully on the inherent fascination with sex and death. Author events in Los Angeles and New York Tri-State Area. Agent: Lynn Nesbit/Janklow & Nesbit

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781441725394
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/2010
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
11
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Rafael Yglesias is an American novelist and screenwriter. He dropped out of high school upon publication of his first novel in 1972 at age 17.  He is the author of nine novels, including Dr. Neruda's Cure For Evil and Fearless, which he adapted for the screen.  He also wrote the screenplays for Death And The Maiden, Les Miserables, From Hell, and Dark Water.  He has two grown sons and lives in New York's Greenwich Village.

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A Happy Marriage 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
LovesToReadBW More than 1 year ago
A Happy Marriage October 4, 2010 Rafael Yglesias This book was so sad and so happy and so beautiful all at the same time. A very intense read showing the life of a marriage - its ups and downs, raising kids, jobs, friends, extended families, and illnesses and the impact that these each can have on the marriage and the people in the marriage. It will definitely make you sit back and reflect on your life and everything going on around you. Relationships make you grow up in different ways with different people. I think Rafael has shown that people change over time and depending on the person's personality they make choices that sometimes impact others negatively and other times they make choices that have a positive impact.
c-leder More than 1 year ago
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.
kwlibralibris More than 1 year ago
"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.
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Iamlal More than 1 year ago
I was very excited when I started reading this book. I thought the idea behind it was a good one: what makes a marriage a marriage. I enjoyed the first part, but the second part was a total disappointment. Going back and forth between the past and present of Margaret and Enrique's life together was interesting at first, but it became very annoying in the second part when the change between past and present is done every other paragraph. Therefore, instead of building up towards the end it made the book pretty boring for the last ten chapters. Also, the excessive importance given to Enrique's erectile dysfunction was distracting and superfluous, while on the other hand little importance was given to how and why they fell in love. Half of the book is filled with repetitive and irrelevant information; there were issues discussed in the first part in detail and totally forgotten in the second, for example Bernard. It seems as though towards the end there was a rush to finish the book and deliver it to the editor, who did not perform a good job either. For short: it had everything to be a great book, but failed at it.
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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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