A Brilliantly Insightful Novel: Read our Review of Sue Miller’s Monogamy

A Brilliantly Insightful Novel: Read our Review of Sue Miller’s Monogamy

A brilliantly insightful novel, engrossing and haunting, about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow, from New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller.

Here is Graham, and here is Annie; here they are in marriage, in late middle age, in comfort. Mismatched, and yet so well matched. They have been married for nearly thirty years. A golden couple, their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances.

Graham is a bookseller, a big, gregarious man with large appetites – curious, eager to please, a lover of life, and the convivial host of frequent, lively parties at his and Annie’s comfortable house in Cambridge. Annie, more reserved and introspective, is a photographer. She is about to have her first gallery show after a six-year lull and is worried that the best years of her career may be behind her. They have two adult children: Lucas, Graham’s son with his first wife, Frieda, works in New York. Annie and Graham’s daughter, Sarah, lives in San Francisco. Though Frieda is an integral part of this far-flung, loving family, Annie feels confident in the knowledge that she is Graham’s last and greatest love.

When Graham suddenly dies—this man whose enormous presence has seemed to dominate their lives together—Annie is lost. What is the point of going on, she wonders, without him?

Then, while she is still mourning him intensely, she discovers that Graham had been unfaithful to her, and she spirals into darkness; wondering if she ever truly knew the man who loved her.

Monogamy is a novel about marriage, but more broadly, relationships, family, secrets and love. It is a second marriage for both Annie and Graham, and many of us can relate to the complex layers that go with that. Miller’s depiction of Annie’s grief is especially moving, from the moment Graham dies, to discovering his lover crying in his study after the memorial service: pure grief to rage. It is intelligent and eloquent and confirms Sue Miller’s place among the greatest writers at work in America today. Her polished, thoughtful prose inspired me as both a writer and a reader. The characters and their relationships are finely crafted, with Miller expertly weaving together the big questions with the beautifully depicted mundane.

Monogamy is also a novel for booklovers, with Graham’s bookshop and literary references throughout. One of the characters in Monogamy says that we read fiction “because it suggests that life has a shape and we feel… consoled.” It’s exactly how I felt reading this. I was deeply moved by the complexity and the humanity in this story. Monogamy is special, from its exquisite cover, to Sue Miller’s sublime writing, it never puts a foot wrong.

 

Reviews

Review | Author Related

22 September 2020

"Each Book Seems to be its Own Creature": Q&A with Monogamy Author, Sue Miller

    Intelligent and Eloquently Written: Take a Sneak Peek at Sue Miller's Monogamy

    Review | Extract

    21 September 2020

    Intelligent and Eloquently Written: Take a Sneak Peek at Sue Miller's Monogamy

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        Synopsis

        Here is Graham, and here is Annie; here they are in marriage, in late middle age, in comfort. Mismatched, and yet so well matched: the bookseller with his appetite, his conviviality, his bigness; the photographer with her delicacy, her astuteness, her reserve. The children are offstage, grown up and scattered on either coast; Graham's first wife, Frieda, is peaceably in their lives, but not between them.Annie is not the first love of Graham's life but she is, he thinks, his last and greatest. Very recently, he has faltered; but he means to put it right.Then the unthinkable happens. Now Annie stumbles in the dark: did she know all there was to know about the man who loved her? If no marriage is without its small indiscretions, how great does a betrayal have to be to be to break it?A novel about marriage, family, secrets and love, Monogamy confirms Sue Miller's place among the greatest writers at work in America today.
        Sue Miller
        About the author

        Sue Miller

        Sue Miller was born in Chicago in 1943. She is the bestselling author of ten previous novels including The Good MotherThe Distinguished Guest, the Oprah Book Club selection While I Was GoneLost in the Forest, the Richard & Judy choice The Senator's WifeThe Lake Shore Limited and the acclaimed memoir The Story of My Father. Sue Miller lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

        Books by Sue Miller

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