Harper. Sept. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780062969651. $28.99. F
In the late 1970s, Graham’s first marriage had long ago imploded when his then-wife Frieda decided the open-marriage concept was not for her. Still, they have remained friends, for their own sake, as much as for their child, Lucas. Meanwhile, after Annie’s own seven-year marriage ended, she embarked on a long, eventually unsatisfying run of endless casual encounters while pursuing a career in photography. When Annie and Graham meet at the opening of Graham’s Cambridge bookstore, the connection is immediate and intense. Tired of their nonmonogamous ways, they marry within the year. Fast-forward to 2008. Their marriage, which was blessed with daughter Sarah, who now lives in California, has been a happy one, filled with joyful intimacy. Then in a careless moment of weakness, Graham embarks on a brief affair that he immediately regrets. Extricating himself isn’t going well, as the woman has fallen in love and imagines a future together. Suddenly, before he can make things right, Graham dies. Annie, paralyzed by grief and disbelief at this unexpected loss, is nearly crushed when she accidentally learns of the affair while still in mourning.
VERDICT Best-selling novelist Miller (While I Was Gone) unflinchingly examines the scorching pain of love, betrayal, raw grief, and the slow slog to forgiveness and healing. An eyes-wide-open look at the cost of commitment in all its messy permutations. [See Prepub Alert, 3/11/20.]
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