Listen to the Marriage

John Jay Osborn. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (208p) ISBN 978-0-374-19202-0
In this uneven novel by Osborn (The Paper Chase), Sandy is a marriage counselor tasked with helping Steve and Gretchen through their recent separation. Told entirely through Sandy’s point of view, readers witness the disintegration of Gretchen and Steve’s relationship as it is told to Sandy during their therapy sessions. Readers learn of both their extramarital affairs, and of the deeper dissatisfaction that has prompted them to be unfaithful. Though the novel’s start implies that divorce may be inevitable, as the narrative unfolds, readers are instead given a nuanced portrait of what makes a marriage work. Marriage, Osborn seems to say, is uneventful, and to keep it going is even more uneventful—mostly, it takes dedication, self-reflection, and lots and lots of communication. It is an admirable message, but therein lie both the advantages and the limits of the novel’s conceit—readers are told of the trials, tribulations, and hard-won victories of Steve and Gretchen’s marriage, but are not allowed to actually see and experience them. Sandy is a profound but limited narrator, and her own back story and issues are not nearly so interesting as Steve and Gretchen’s. At its best, this an emotionally intelligent and deeply felt consideration of the realities of marriage. But it is not consistently at its best. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Fiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-250-21842-1
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-250-23476-6
Library Binding - 309 pages - 978-1-4328-6212-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-30381-3
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