SOCIAL SCIENCES
Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap
Nan A. Talese: Doubleday. Feb. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9780385543941. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385543958. MEMOIR
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OrangeReviewStarPoet and novelist Goldman's (Losing My Sister) newest work chronicles the ebb and flow of marriage against a backdrop of a medical procedure gone horribly wrong. It begins with Goldman's husband, Henry, visiting a doctor for chronic back pain. What happened next leads to partial paralysis and a major role reversal for husband and wife. The author, who describes herself as a "demure, quiet, Southern woman," becomes a caregiver and fierce advocate for Henry. Thanks to her love, strength, and the support of family and friends, his spirit is maintained all the while tested by overworked (or incompetent) medical professionals. Each chapter shifts between the past and the present, with Goldman referencing her marriage and relationships with her family as signposts of change. In the hands of a less competent writer, these shifts would be redundant or tiresome. But Goldman's prowess with the economy of words and emotions, also evidenced in her prize-winning poetry collections, allows readers to empathize with her plight without being bogged down by the author's self-pity or anger.
VERDICT An insightful, at times harrowing, chronicle of the ups and downs of marriage and the many roles we play in one another's lives.

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