I Married You For Happiness

I Married You For Happiness

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by Lily Tuck
     
 

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“His hand is growing cold, still she holds it,” is how this riveting, deeply moving story of a forty-three year old marriage by National Book Award winner Lily Tuck begins. Unfolding over a single night, Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Too shocked yet to grieve, she

Overview


“His hand is growing cold, still she holds it,” is how this riveting, deeply moving story of a forty-three year old marriage by National Book Award winner Lily Tuck begins. Unfolding over a single night, Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Too shocked yet to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long marriage, beginning with their first meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician—it was a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love.

Slender, powerful, and utterly engaging, I Married You For Happiness is not only an elegant elegy to a man and a marriage, but also a meditation on the theory of probability and how chance can affect both a life and one’s consideration of an afterlife.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A Best Book of the Year:

Boston Globe
Chicago Tribune
National Post
Publishers Weekly

"One of the most beautiful love songs in novel form you'll ever read . . . Tuck is a genius with moments . . . Her ability to capture beauty will remind readers of Margaret Yourcenar and Marguerite Duras."—Los Angeles Book Review

"[A] moving narrative . . . Poetic and absorbing . . . The final passages, as dawn breaks in thie new widow's life, as re a rare and elegant affirmation of the transcendence of love."—The Daily Beast

"Beautiful . . . Tuck produces spare prose that doesn't sacrifice tension or emotion in its economy. . . . An artfully crafted still life of one couple's marraige." —Boston Globe

"Sweet, tender and compelling."—Chicago Tribune (Best Books of the Year)

"This slim brush of a book manages to accomplish in a mere 200-plus pages what many novelists try to do in twice the verbiage. . . . Examines the disguises and surprises that energize a lasting marriage." —The Seattle Times

"An elegant vigil . . . A poised, readable, immediate novel."—The Guardian

"Luminous . . . Spare but deep." —NPR

"A magical, truthful tale." —Huffington Post (Best Upcoming Books for Fall)

"Captivating . . . Absorbing . . . Strikes a chord."—The Washington Post

"Fearless and absorbing . . . What Tuck has captured so deftly is the essence of a bereaved wandering mind, with its detours and tangents. . . . Intense, brutal, and stunning." —The Portland Press Herald

"The writing is lyrical and striking, vividly capturing the nature of memory and the way in which love, though never simple, is contained and proven in the small, indelible moments of our lives. . . . This slim, magnificent novel is rarefied by its heartbreaking immediacy, and the moving, aching stream of consciousness chronicles not only the psychology of shock and mourning, but also the minute-by-minute way in which Nine begins to put life as she knows it in the past tense." —BookPage

“A breathlessly mannered, affecting new work . . . Small, vital snapshots make up two lives closely shared, and beautifully portrayed in this triumph of a novel."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A tender look at marriage, mathematics, life and death, and the intricacies of love . . . I Married You for Happiness elegiac and joyful simultaneously—a love letter to this marriage and to the idea of marriage in general." —Book Browse

"Tuck's crisp writing is a joy."—Kirkus Reviews

"A full and satisfying potrayal of a marriage . . . Great fodder for readers who enjoy pondering life's larger questions.”—Library Journal

"Affecting, original . . . Rich in sentiment, poignancy, and honesty."—Booklist

"Tuck is an elegant, spare writer who limns her characters in a few swift sentences. . . . Her ability to work mathematical concepts into a literary novel is impressive. . . . For the unmarried, I Married You for Happiness will do what great fiction does: draw you into another's life, allowing you to inhabit it vicariously, emerging with an increased understanding of something previously unknown. If you are happily married, your worst fears about your spouse predeceasing you will be miserably, brightly illuminated, the better you may see them in the harshly brilliant light of quality fiction." —PopMatters

Marie Arana
…strangely captivating…as Nina contemplates her dead husband's math lectures…the story becomes steadily more absorbing, and the sum of the novel's parts is well worth the effort.
—The Washington Post
Washington Post
“Strangely captivating. . . . It will make you chafe. It will strike a chord.”
Washington Post
Library Journal
Tuck opens her fifth novel (and her first since National Book Award winner The News from Paraguay) with the sudden death of the main character, mathematician and professor Philip. His wife, Nina, spends the night reminiscing in brief episodic flashbacks that meander through their decades together from their meeting in Paris and the birth of daughter Louise to Philip's various academic appointments and travels. Snippets from Philip's mathematics lectures and Nina's artistic sensibilities expose a passionate and complicated union. Tuck's spare prose accelerates as Nina reaches morning, and we are left with a full and satisfying portrayal of a marriage and, perhaps, the discovery of the more poetic side of higher mathematics. VERDICT Fans of literary fiction should appreciate this one. Recommended to those who favor domestic fiction or a focus on personal relationships. Great fodder for readers who enjoy pondering life's larger questions.—Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast, TX
Kirkus Reviews

Using shards of memory, Tuck creates the portrait of a marriage in her latest, following the NBA winnerThe News from Paraguay(2004, etc.).

Nina and Philip have been married for 42 years. He's a university mathematician, she's an artist. His death is as quiet as the fall of a leaf. He returns to their Massachusetts home to rest before dinner. Nina finds him dead. Cardiac arrest, says her neighbor, an endocrinologist. Here Tuck suspends time, allowing Nina, during the night ahead, to sift through the memories and images from their life together. Tuck uses a loose variation of a binary, Hegelian model. On the one hand are the mathematical formulations spelled out by Philip in the lecture hall and over the dinner table; he's a popular, witty teacher. Numbers represent logic and order; they are beyond time. In opposition are Nina's memories, their wild disorder at the mercy of time. These are "the manifestations of the inner self," Nina's reference to a Nathalie Sarraute novel she's reading when Philip hits on her at a café in Paris, their first meeting. It is daring of Tuck to set their courtship in Paris, such well-trodden ground for young lovers. The result is a somewhat synthetic charm. What's real, shockingly so, is Nina's rape by Philip's French cousin in a forest outside the city. Nina never told Philip about the rape or its consequence, a risky back-alley abortion; another secret was her one infidelity, a summer fling with a yachtsman in Brittany. Was Philip faithful to her? Nina doesn't know, but she has a jealous temperament, an irritant among her many happy memories of lovemaking, meals and shared laughter. Another possible irritant, the contrast between Philip's successful career and Nina's failure to make it commercially, goes unaddressed, a disconcerting omission masked by exotic vacation travel writing.

Does the couple's mutual happiness provide a Hegelian synthesis? Not quite, though Tuck's crisp writing is a joy.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802145918
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/11/2012
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
772,431
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.64(d)

Meet the Author

Born in Paris, Lily Tuck is the author of four previous novels: Interviewing Matisse or the Woman Who Died Standing Up, The Woman Who Walked on Water, Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man, which was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and The News From Paraguay, winner of the National Book Award. She is also the author of the biography, Woman of Rome, A Life of Elsa Morante. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, and are collected in Limbo, or Other Places I Have Lived. She divides her time between Maine and New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
October 10, 1939
Place of Birth:
Paris, France
Education:
B.A., Radcliffe (Harvard); M.A., Sorbonne, Paris

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I Married You for Happiness 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
my book club thought this very good. The NOOK edition had MANY TYPOS/GARBLED TEXT which were extremely distracting.