MARRIAGE by Gloria Nagy


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With her usual sharp eye for contemporary fads and follies, the author of Looking for Leo (1992), among others, limns the near-destruction of a seemingly perfect marriage. Set mostly in Montecito, California -- ""a paradise place"" -- the events endangering the many-years marriage of Annie and Mickey Wilder begin on Thanksgiving Eve as Annie, whose 45th birthday it is, prepares for the family reunion. This longtime wife and mother, a travel writer who's just passed the age at which her own mother died, is depressed. Her career is going nowhere, her children are grown, and she feels ""halved, withered in some way."" The holiday is further troubled by Mickey's failure to answer Annie's question: ""Are you having an affair?"" The two were childhood sweethearts and neighbors in New York City, where they'd married and lived until Mickey's acting career brought them west. Now the star of a popular TV series, Mickey is enjoying the biggest success of his life. And so, with the scene set, the plot takes over, piling more incidents into the poor Wilders' lives than a pileup on a freeway. After the tense holiday with children and in-laws -- all with their own problems -- the onslaught begins. Within a few days, Annie is smitten with visiting Englishman Oliver; their accountant Leo disappears with all their money; Mickey's series is canceled; and Annie learns about his affair with potter Ivy Clare. Then a beloved dog dies, as does Annie's father, and Annie herself, after a torrid time with Oliver in Britain and a surreal meeting with Leo in Japan, falls ill and nearly dies -- an event that, of course, brings everyone together, wiser and stronger. To be enjoyed for what it is: a page-turner with an unlikely plot, redeemed by wit and insights into that rare animal, a long-lived marriage.

Pub Date: July 7th, 1995
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"