Life. It begins and begins and begins. An infinite number of times. It is all beginnings until the end comes. Sometimes we know it and sometimes we do not, but at every moment life begins again.
I didn’t want to put this book down. Something about it sucked me in right from the start.
This is the story of Gus (Augusta) and Owen’s twenty-five year relationship and how it came to an end. From the beginning we know about Owen’s death, but we need to wait as Gus looks back on their life and tells us their story to find out how it comes about.
… as one of my teachers used to say, you cannot see a landscape you are in. But you do begin to see it when you step away.
Gus is a painter, Owen is a writer, and they have been living in a farm house in the country. They have not isolated themselves because they are artists, but because of their past and their determination to move beyond it. We learn about the ups and downs of their many years together. There have been mistakes, are still some secrets, but they have committed to stay together.
Then Alison moves in next door, and everything changes for them. She breaks into their solitude and befriends them. Gus finds herself looking forward to spending some time with Alison each day, and begins confiding in her. Their lives become more and more entwined, and when Alison’s daughter, Nora, enters the picture things become intense.
… now and then the universe just insists on changing your life in ways you didn’t ask it to.
This novel is subtle in its suspense. It is mostly a portrait of a middle age marriage, but something about the storytelling compels you to keep turning the pages. Even though you know what is going to happen at the end, you don’t know how or why, and as you get closer, you start hoping that maybe the narrator is wrong about the ending. Maybe it will turn out okay after all.
Here it was again. The fact that to be truthful can so often be both right and wrong.
Besides the themes of marriage and friendship, Robin Black brings other elements into her book. Her characters have lived. They struggle with death, illness, family, trust, childlessness, and living with their own imperfections.
How do any of us walk across a room without tripping over our own multitudes?
This author knows what she’s doing, and I would happily read anything else she writes. I especially recommend this book to any of my 40+ friends, who would find the characters and relationships to be a fascinating example of what marriage and friendship might look like at this stage of our lives. (Hopefully, without all the hardships.)
There are often two conversations going on in a marriage. The one that you’re having and the one that you’re not. Sometimes you don’t even know when that second, silent one has begun.
How do you define a successful marriage?