Marion and Art, on the brink of divorce and bankruptcy, head back to Niagara Falls, where they spent their honeymoon decades earlier. This compact novel unfolds over Valentine’s Day weekend, culminating with the couple’s determination to gamble what money they have left at the roulette wheel in the hotel casino. Taking the metaphor for all its worth and then some, the two risk “throwing away their savings chasing the high not of money but of sheer possibility.” At his best, O’Nan (Emily, Alone) nails the persistence of betrayal long after wrongs have actually been committed; their desperation has become as routine as ordering dinner. The kitsch of the falls is effectively rendered, though the plot eventually devolves toward cliché, perhaps inevitably in the trappings of the setting. Rooting for the couple becomes more of a challenge once the language begins to feel as predictable as the Maid of the Mist ride. Learning that “[s]he was more comfortable with the rose as the badge of their love, being both natural and ephemeral, than the ring, which seemed binding and permanent” doesn’t so much explain Marion as reveal a dependency on symbolism that at times interrupts an otherwise tender tale of imperfection and commitment. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2011 Release date: 01/19/2012 Genre: Fiction
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