I Married You for Happiness

I Married You for Happiness

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by Lily Tuck

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In her first novel since winning the National Book Award, Lily Tuck delivers an elegant tour-de-force portrait of a forty-three-year marriage.

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In her first novel since winning the National Book Award, Lily Tuck delivers an elegant tour-de-force portrait of a forty-three-year marriage.

Editorial Reviews

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
“Tuck’s skill is immense, as is Caruso’s, and there’s not a word of this heartbreaking but compelling listening experience that feels false or unearned.”
From the Publisher
“Barbara Caruso’s nuanced narration and crisp delivery match the author’s prose and her command of language. . . . Highly recommended for fans of contemporary literary fiction.”
Publishers Weekly

“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.

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Product Details

Center Point Large Print
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

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