Love's Labors: A Story of Marriage and Divorce

Daniel Roche, Author Riverhead Books $23.95 (274p) ISBN 978-1-57322-067-5
Roche's account of his marriage and divorce, while garlanded with nice turns of phrase befitting an alum of the University of Iowa Writers' Program, is not nearly as substantive as John Taylor's similar memoir, Falling (reviewed below). Maybe that's partly because his marriage was never as substantive. Married right out of college at 22, Roche and his first wife embarked on a series of adventures: the Peace Corps (they left early), four months of unemployment in Denver (they lived on savings), jobs (in separate cities), grad schools (in separate cities), her six-month hike up the Appalachian Trail, his summer in Europe, one affair each. Their friends wondered aloud why they were married at all, since each was so determined to maintain independence and avoid compromise or self-sacrifice. Roche grandiosely boasted that he was ""redefining the role of husbandhood,"" and he viewed the hyphenating of both their last names as a huge commitment. Ultimately, he and his wife come off as individuals playing at marriage but never really committing to it. After describing the inevitable and civilized divorce, Roche relates no lessons or wisdom to fortify his swift second marriage, instead merely contending that this time he is ""well-matched."" While Roche is a skillful writer, his prose sometimes lapses into preciousness. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1998
Release date: 03/01/1999
Mass Market Paperbound - 288 pages - 978-1-57322-775-9
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