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Marriage: A Duet Hardcover – January 8, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (January 8, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786868740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786868742
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,745,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fleming (Motherhood Deferred), a commentator for CNN and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, examines the marital angst that follows infidelity in the two novellas that make up her fiction debut. The conceit is simple: in the first story, "A Married Woman," she outlines the dilemma of the beautiful, reserved Caroline Betts, who knows instantly that her husband, William, is about to have a serious affair with April, the 20-something daughter of a friend of theirs. Caroline, who knows her husband well and is a hawk-eyed observer of his moods and expressions, slowly comes unhinged, realizing that the depth of his love for April may sink her marriage. In "A Married Man," Fleming takes a more lighthearted look at philandering, as protagonist David Sanderson cracks rueful jokes and comically acts out when he learns of wife Marcia's quick, casual interlude with a dinner-party guest. The funniest passages take place during the couple's therapy sessions with a Dr. Phil-style psychologist (coiner of such maxims as "you're as sick as your secrets") who has used his own infidelity to build a high-profile career. Fleming is a thoughtful, intelligent writer whose arch humor and dead-on dialogue suggest great potential for subsequent novels. The biggest problem with these novellas is the familiarity of the material; there are some clich‚s in both the plotting and characterization. Still, Fleming clearly has a knack for making the ups and downs of marital life deliciously entertaining.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This first work of fiction by Fleming, a journalist and contributor to CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, comprises two novellas that examine the ideas of marriage and infidelity and how spouses can genuinely love each other yet decide to test the boundaries. In the first, "A Married Woman," we meet middle-aged Caroline, a mother of two grown children who is watching her husband, William, slowly die. The narrative is divided between the present and Caroline's recollections of William's having an affair with a friend of their college-aged daughter Katie. Though Caroline loves her husband a great deal and his impending death rattles the whole family, his indiscretion has tainted the household. In the second novella, "A Married Man," Fleming turns the tables. We meet a younger family, the Sandersons-David, a successful investment advisor; his beautiful wife, Marcia; and their two young sons, Trevor and Kyle. Marcia has decided to have a brief fling with a dinner guest and though regretful does not hide her indiscretion. The couple seeks help from a counselor, but David can't seem to cope with having had his idyllic marriage spoiled. Both stories are set in Los Angeles and provide a snapshot of marriages that on the surface appear wonderful. Well-drawn characters and tight narratives allow the reader to observe life beneath the facade and decide what constitutes forgiveness, family, and fidelity. Recommended for public libraries.
Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I think the reader of this book will thoroughly enjoy it.
Geraldine Freeman
Her characters really care about their marriages, their children, what has happened in their lives up to the time of the infidelity and after.
Stephen Wagner
The characters are unbelievable, the plots are stupid, and the characters are so utterly unlikeable that you actually relish in their misery.
Kate Smart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I bought a copy of this novel for myself, based on my familiarity with the author's essays on public tv and the Oprah review. I expected it to be good, but it is stunningly good. It is beautifully written and the characters have depth--she writes about the aftermath of infidelity and pain with truth and compassion. I'm recommending it for my book group as our next selection.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers on February 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Marriage, A Duet is two novellas linked by a common thread, grief over adultery. The stories examine infidelity and the ultimate consequences it has on a marriage. One is told from the perspective of a woman and the other from a man. A Married Woman...After 40 years of marriage it has come down to Caroline Betts keeping a careful vigil over her husband's deathbed. And at each occurence of the rising and setting of the sun she relives moments of their marriage. Caroline loves her husband and has some wonderful memories, but what she remembers most is when her husband of then 25 years, fell in love and consummated that love with a younger woman. Caroline is not a talker, so she deals with the betrayal primarily in her own head and we are only privy to her calm icy thoughts about the affair, her husband's voice is not shared with readers. This story is packed with domestic details and hard truths as Ms. Fleming gives readers a combination of sorrow and residual anger along with flashes of relief and optimism. A Married Man...In the second novella David and Marcia Sanderson are trying to put their relationship back together after her liaison with one of David's clients. His anger forces him into a perverse near-madness state because he externalizes his grief over his wife's betrayal, he'd always felt his marriage and his wife were just one baby step short of perfection. A distraught David wonders why the truth is so valuable, if it would have been better if she had just not told him, or if she'd lied to him instead. The writer introduces self-help groups and the use of pharmacology to help their marriage, but when none of this removes his bitterness, David resolves "no more groups, no more pills, and no more shrinks".Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on June 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Two views of what damage infidelity within marriages can do.

For readers who relish the complexities of two people making a life together, the dialogues ring true & the situations are both delicately funny & seriously telling.
Anyone who has been espoused will know of what this author writes, & will find some interesting information to take back to their marriage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geraldine Freeman on October 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I normally don't choose "novellas" to read but the title of this book caught my eye. I was pleasantly surprised by the content of the book and the two "short" stories it contained. The stories are written in a concise, sometimes shocking, intense manner. "A Married Woman" is about a woman married for many years who is recalling the details of her husbands infidelity as she sits by his deathbed.
"A Married Man" is the story of a man who is trying to find forgiveness for his wife's infidelity. It is a heartwrenching story of a father and husband who loves his wife very much but is not able to get beyond her one night affair with an acquaintance.
I think the reader of this book will thoroughly enjoy it. It is a quick read but contains such food for thought.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The author of these captivating novellas moves skillfully from the grief stricken interior lives of the betrayed to the slick, sometimes comical social worlds they inhabit. The prose, at times, is snapshot specific. Fleming's ear for dialogue is not always perfect but all the rest is poetry. To be sure, the Southern California characters have a certain type of glamour, but their pain is deep and real. No, this isn't Anna Karenina, but it's just as painful, a lot shorter, and, at times, a lot funnier.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Wagner on May 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
Anne Taylor Fleming is best known to me as an essayist on the News Hour, usually commenting on the world from the perspective of LA, which I don't usually appreciate all that much.
Surprising here, especially considering the subject of infidelity, she manages to lose most of the LA pretentiousness in both of these two short novels, despite the fact that both stories are set in LA. Her characters really care about their marriages, their children, what has happened in their lives up to the time of the infidelity and after. Not that all is well--the wronged parties agonize in ways that are highly recognizable (at least to me) over their partner's respective indiscretions.
Perhaps these novels work because she has imagined or observed the reactions of these wronged spouses rather than actually lived them herself and can, therefore, maintain an appropriate detachment (and humor). At any rate, the characters come off as real and engaging and people you would want to meet yourself, unlike many LA characters I've met in the pages of contemporary fiction.
Well done and recommended!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sanjeev Naik on September 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
In Her Absence by Antonio Munoz Molina

as well as

Conjugal Love by Alberto Moravia

are far better books in analyzing relationships. Both involve a self-conscious narrator who analyzes his relationship - often seeing it with the clarity that could have saved it but also often deluding himself to keep it going when it is obvious (to the reader) that it is over.

I should say that though I tried to read Marriage, I did not read it completely. I skipped through the first novella and found it mildly interesting but it did not engage me enough to keep at it. I returned the book unread even though it was a short novel and I had picked it up at the library because I was intrigued by the theme of the stories.
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