GAMES TO PLAY AFTER DARK by Sarah Gardner Borden


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A first novel about marriage.

Told from Kate’s perspective—mostly while she’s in her 20s and 30s but also her early teens—the book moves from her lust-at-first-sight drunken meeting with Colin right into their wedding. After some spot-on interludes of a marriage, the narration continues its chronological roll through the eventual birth and early childhood of Kate and Colin’s two daughters, dipping at irregular intervals back to Kate’s first sexual experiences and, interestingly, her father’s awakening to it. “He does not want Kate to become this sort of woman: a wife. He anticipates better things for her…Anything less will hurt him, expose him, and generate shame: his and hers." Kate understands this strange bifurcation as she watches her daughters grow up. This is a complicated subject, one that Borden tries to untangle through lovely writing, smart and bawdy humor, the elevation of ordinary detail into extraordinary meaning and characters who are sharply honest even when they’re telling each other, and themselves, lies.

If a phrase or scene jars, push through, as those bumps are few in this novel—this is a page-turner that will both haunt and spark discussion.


Pub Date: May 3rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-74090-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Vintage
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2011