The noted novelist and memoirist reflects on her marriage and the elusive nature of time.
To write openly about an enduring intimate relationship requires courage and tact; it’s a balancing act that can trip up the most seasoned of writers, not to mention potentially damage the sacred bond at stake. In this compelling account of her 18-year marriage, Shapiro (Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, 2013 etc.) carefully exposes the vulnerabilities that have subtly begun to surface within the relationship and, individually, within her husband and herself, over the years, sensitively addressing how time, age, and the fluctuations of success continue to impact their lives. This is the third marriage for the author. Her husband, referenced here as simply M., is a screenwriter and formerly a foreign correspondent who was based in Africa. Together, they live in a rural setting in Connecticut with their teenage son. Shapiro moves back and forth in time from their first meeting at a cocktail party in Manhattan and their subsequent wedding and honeymoon in France through the various trials they’ve faced within their marriage. These include the near-death of their young son, deaths of parents, struggles with finances, and difficulties navigating the career demands and frequent disappointments of two writers sharing their working lives from a home base. Throughout, the narrative demonstrates Shapiro’s finely tuned, poetic skills as a writer. “The stumbles and falls; the lapses in judgment; the near misses; the could-haves. I’ve become convinced that our lives are shaped less by the mistakes we make than when we make them,” she writes. “There is less elasticity now. Less time to bounce back. And so I heed the urgent whisper and move with greater and greater deliberation. I hold my life with M. carefully in my hands like the faience pottery we brought back from our honeymoon long ago….We must be handled with care.”
A sharply observed and frequently moving memoir of a marriage.