Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Senator's Wife: a review

The story is familiar, yet compelling - a senator and his wife are estranged because of his numerous affairs over the years. The characters are realistically complex, almost recognizable. Despite, or maybe because of, their faults and shortcomings I couldn't help but sympathize with each one of them.

Delia, despite her troubled marriage, has created a happy solitary life for herself and has taken advantage of her separation. She has a volunteer job that she loves, and an apartment in Paris to which she frequently escapes for extended visits.

After moving to the neighborhood with her husband, Meri finds work at a radio station and is happy in her job, but soon becomes pregnant with a baby she is neither ready for nor excited about. She is taken with her neighbor, Delia, from the first time they meet, and becomes secretly and invasively interested in the history of Delia's marriage to the Senator.

The story is well-rounded and complicated and sad, but I especially love the little details that Miller uses to create a rich reading experience: the slant of light coming through a window, the smell clean sheets, the crispness of an apple. Her descriptions add texture to a story that consists in great part of internal struggles and memories, and somehow anchors it.

This was the first book I've read by Sue Miller, but it certainly won't be the last.

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