Self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing memoir, with Robinson (Past Forgetting, 1999, etc.) and business consultant Shaw taking turns relating the dull story of their relationship.
They begin promisingly enough. On a single page, each offers an account of their first meeting 20 years ago in a diner: he remembers she was laughing with friends; she insists she was alone. Okay, that’s interesting and mildly different, if evanescent. It gets stupefying as they move on to chronicle their lovemaking, arguments, wedding, honeymoon, and difficult adjustment to the other’s enormous ego. We learn about the failed relationships of each. Shaw abandoned a wife and three children for a five-year fling with Zoe, a dancer 20 years his junior; Robinson split with her first husband and, in her words, “went wild.” Soon we are reading about their shopping habits (she likes Kamali and Cartier), their celebrity friends (Vonnegut, Wolfe, Talese), their dinners in fine restaurants, their sojourns in five-star hotels, their high-speed motoring through England (in a Jag, of course), and their journey aboard the Orient Express to Venice, where Shaw pens a treacly love letter to the city (“I love you, Venezia”). His prose is generally clichéd (“I was a disaster waiting to happen”; “like oil and water”), and although Robinson is a better writer, she too often displays a weakness for the hackneyed phrase (“He makes love to my soul”). Along the way, we are asked to believe that they both remember verbatim lengthy, decades-old conversations: with each other, with friends, with the minister who married them. We read ludicrous accounts of their lovemaking (“my fingers were playing arpeggios over her silken skin”) and orgasms. We glimpse their cowboy-motif wedding. Every now and then the authors toss off a fresh phrase like “where does chocolate end and sex begin?” But not often enough.
Needs major infusions of fresh language—and humility.