cover image Monogamy


Sue Miller. Harper, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-296965-1

Miller (The Arsonist) delivers a robust, character-driven examination of the inner workings of a lengthy marriage. Domestic tranquility quickly totters into roiling turmoil as photographer Annie McFarlane struggles with grief after the sudden death of Graham, her bookstore-owning husband of almost 30 years. When Annie met Graham on the opening night of his shop in Harvard Square, each was coming off a disastrous first marriage. Annie never really loved Alan, a handsome preppy filled with contempt for others, including her, and she left him. Graham’s first marriage was an open one (“It had been that era”), but his prodigious affairs were too much for Frieda, who left him with their young son. Frieda and Graham remained friends after their divorce, “leading to the lasting complexity of their entwined lives.” Annie feels “doubly betrayed” when she learns that Graham had confided in Frieda about a recent affair. The novel takes on various configurations, swelling with recovered memories of childhood experiences and crackling with revelations of seductive temptations at an artist’s colony. Annie swirls through bitterness and missed opportunities on her way to an acceptance of a “new sorrow,” while Graham’s Rabelaisian, larger-than-life personality is felt even in his absence. The novel is grounded by vibrant prose, vividly portrayed secondary characters, and the resiliency of everlasting love. Miller’s fans will devour this spectacular, powerful return. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME. (Sept.)