cover image The Forever Marriage

The Forever Marriage

Ann Bauer. Overlook, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59020-721-5

With quiet power, Bauer explores the isolation, betrayal, duty, and, finally, compassion that constitute an unhappy marriage. When Carmen Garrett’s husband, Jobe, dies, she finally feels the reprieve she’s spent her 21-year marriage waiting for. She and Jobe had been profoundly ill-suited: Jobe, a solemn and awkward math prodigy, had been intimidated by the potency of Carmen’s desires, while Carmen had been bound to Jobe by gratitude and obligation rather than love. Carmen—an unfaithful wife and the loving but resentful mother of three children—is an unlikely sympathetic figure, yet she is unsparingly, at times laceratingly, candid about her own shortcomings, and is disoriented by the loss she feels for a man she has spent her adult life wishing away. Only weeks after Jobe dies of lymphoma, Carmen is diagnosed with breast cancer, accepting the turn of events with the grim equanimity of a convict submitting to a death sentence. With lovely prose and fine pacing, Bauer (A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards) offers a sensitive portrait of a flawed woman coming to terms with a lifetime of regrets. Agent: Esmond Harmsworth, the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Agency. (June)