Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Story of a Marriage

Title:  The Story of a Marriage
Author:  Geir Gullliksen
Publication Information:  Hogarth. 2018. 160 pages.
ISBN:  1524759678 / 978-1524759674

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Tell me about us."

Favorite Quote:  "All we could do now was to find a way to leave each other, quietly and in a civilised manner and with a sort of tender affection."

What happens when a marriage breaks up? Do you go back to the beginning and analyze every piece and every point? Do you dwell in that sadness for a while to try and understand? If your spouse is leaving for a new love, do you want to know every detail of this new relationship to try and understand? Do you look at it from the other person's perspective to try and understand?

The answer for Jon is yes as it was for the main character in Long Players. Unfortunately, neither book is the really the story of a relationship. They are both rather the musings of a man wallowing in the tragedy of a breakup. Jon, in his effort to understand, tries to see it from his wife perspective and also the perspective of the other man.

Jon and Timmy have a relationship and marriage that has lasted for many years.  They have both progressed in their careers and built a life and a family together. They think they have been happy together. Timmy is a doctor and the primary earner; Jon is a writer and the primary caretaker of home and children. The very basis of their relationship, sadly, is in a betrayal. They meet when Timmy, a doctor, treats Jon's child in a health clinic. Their marriage starts from an ending.

They have what is termed a "modern" marriage. For them, it means that they are both free to "explore" beyond their relationship and in fact share those explorations with each other. That is, until Timmy finds herself get more and more involved with someone new; exploration evolves into a relationship. All of a sudden (or perhaps it was coming all along), Jon and Timmy find themselves at the crossroads of a breakup.

What should be a story of emotion and reflection unfortunately for me is not. The book description purports a discussion of gender roles, relationships, and a larger philosophical statement. At the end, I am unsure what exactly this slim volume attempts. What stands out unfortunately is the explicit, sexual scenes which I don't need or enjoy in a novel. A relationship that should be about emotional connection and intimacy becomes relegated to instances of physical contact.

Accompanying these scenes are other descriptions of the minute details of appearance and attire. What stands out most from these descriptions is that Timmy is a runner; a lot of time is spent getting ready to run, running, and then recovering from running. Again, the emotional gives way to the physical details. Perhaps, Jon thinks the answers are to be found in these mundane details? Truly, they are not. The emotional connection for me is missing in this book. It does not become clear in the relationship, and it does not convey itself to this reader.

At the end, I am not even sure my interpretation of the mechanics of the story are correct. I am left with general sadness and much confusion. Perhaps, something is lost in translation. I just don't get it.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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