But first a quick update.
This has been a great week for blogging. Thanks to T.H. Mafi, I’m welcoming several new readers to the blog–WELCOME! And not to Mosby the situation or anything, but I think I’m in love with you. (I told you I’ve been watching too much “How I Met Your Mother”!!!)
Now that that’s out of the way, on to
Book Review Friday!
The Marriage Artist: A Novel
Henry Holt & Co. 2010. 384 pages. $26 (hardcover)
After my confession that I hadn’t really read many books written in 2010, I sought out to remedy the situation by reading … books written in 2010. I’ll get around to 2011 one of these days. Searching the bookstore for a novel that wasn’t about WWII proved to be a challenge. I settled for a book with a gorgeous cover that was about an art critic searching for answers about his wife’s death. Lying next to her was her supposed lover, the artist on whom Daniel Lichtmann staked his entire career. As the book jacket says, “Tormented by questions about the circumstances of their deaths, Daniel dedicates himself to uncovering the secrets of their relationship and the inspiration behind Wind’s dazzling final exhibition.”
I flipped to the middle of the book (because first sentences can’t be trusted). The prose was luscious without being pretentious, so I picked it up.
I find it helpful to describe my motivations for purchasing a book because often it shapes my reading experience. If I’m expecting laughs, I’ll read it quickly and in short spurts. If I want a literary who-dun-it I’ll read it leisurely, sometimes picking it up before bed.
To be honest, I haven’t really decided how I feel about this book. For one, it is about WWII (tricksy flashbacks!). For another, the story takes a turn in the middle of the book that I was sort of expecting but dreading, and a feeling of dread is something I try to avoid when I read (unless a ghost/vampire/zombie/mass-murderer is stalking a pretty girl. Then it’s called the Gothic and it’s ok by me).
The main character, Daniel, is just the type of forlorn academic we’ve come to expect in these types of stories. But reading about him falling in love over and over again with women who seem much younger was just icky. Don’t get me started on creepy old guy Max.
I felt most drawn to Hannah Englander, but her story falls from view once the male narrative returns to center stage. Even though the story centers around the Marriage Artist, Josef Pick, we never get a full view of him and the glimpses aren’t enough to sate my curiosity. Benjamin Wind, Daniel’s artist and his wife’s lover, proves even more elusive.
Overall, I give the novel high marks for prose and narrative structure. It succeeds with it’s poetry, not necessarily it’s plot. It’s intriguing enough for me to recommend it to people just so I can ask, “What did you think?” Jury’s still out for me.