cover image Memories of a Marriage

Memories of a Marriage

Louis Begley. Doubleday/Talese, $25.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-385-53746-9

In this compact, voyeuristic novel, Begley (About Schmidt) creates his latest larger-than-life character in the beguiling but sharp-tongued socialite Lucy De Bourgh. During the spring of 2003, elderly narrator Phillip, a successful literary novelist, is attending the New York City Ballet when he bumps into Lucy, an old friend and occasional lover from his carefree days in 1950s Paris. A striking beauty and wealthy Rhode Island blueblood, Lucy charmed with her personality and humor and disregarded Eisenhower-era mores with her easy sexuality. Lucy now seems bitter, however, and shocks Phillip by calling her late ex, Thomas Snow, a “monster.” Although coming from blue-collar roots, Thomas attended Harvard, made his fortune as a savvy investment banker, and after the divorce, died in a boating accident. A lonely widower, Phillip becomes fascinated with Lucy and Thomas’s divorce, perhaps seeing a future novel in their breakup. Possibly, though, he just finds titillation in Lucy’s sensational past. Begley’s effortless storytelling will have readers equally fascinated by Lucy and Phillips’s complex, tangled relationship. Agent: Georges Borchardt, George Borchardt Inc. (July)