A Bona Fide Husband, and Other Stories

Lilian Roberts Finlay, Author Poolbeg Press $0 (265p) ISBN 978-1-85371-107-7
Many of these tales by an Irish writer revolve around the quiet havoc of marriages between banal men and intelligent, passionate women. The wives' romantic expectations of marriage are early deadened by their husbands, who flee from emotional intimacy. The men, however, view themselves and their seemingly placid middle-aged wives with complacency. They are devastated when, child-rearing over, their wives leave them--calmly but with steely resolve. At their best, these stories memorably explore the hearts of women caught in a familiar cultural trap and the tenor of lives on the edge of desperation, rendering complex emotional histories with an effective economy of language. In the title story, an estranged husband pays an unannounced visit to his wife of 25 years. He feels diminished by her contentment and baffled by her oblique allusions to her past unhappiness with him. Angry and hurt, he is now a literal as well as emotional outsider in his marriage. Most of the other stories work to lesser effect; some are far-fetched, such as one in which a woman travels to her friend's funeral to kindle a romance with the widower--who is already having an affair. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
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