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I Married You for Happiness Hardcover – September 6, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A Best Book of the Year:

Boston Globe
Chicago Tribune
National Post
Publishers Weekly

"One of the most beautiful love songs in novel form you'll ever read . . . Tuck is a genius with moments . . . Her ability to capture beauty will remind readers of Margaret Yourcenar and Marguerite Duras."—Los Angeles Book Review

"[A] moving narrative . . . Poetic and absorbing . . . The final passages, as dawn breaks in thie new widow's life, as re a rare and elegant affirmation of the transcendence of love."—The Daily Beast

"Beautiful . . . Tuck produces spare prose that doesn't sacrifice tension or emotion in its economy. . . . An artfully crafted still life of one couple's marraige." —Boston Globe

"Sweet, tender and compelling."—Chicago Tribune (Best Books of the Year)

"This slim brush of a book manages to accomplish in a mere 200-plus pages what many novelists try to do in twice the verbiage. . . . Examines the disguises and surprises that energize a lasting marriage." —The Seattle Times

"An elegant vigil . . . A poised, readable, immediate novel."—The Guardian

"Luminous . . . Spare but deep." —NPR

"A magical, truthful tale." —Huffington Post (Best Upcoming Books for Fall)

"Captivating . . . Absorbing . . . Strikes a chord."—The Washington Post

"Fearless and absorbing . . . What Tuck has captured so deftly is the essence of a bereaved wandering mind, with its detours and tangents. . . . Intense, brutal, and stunning." —The Portland Press Herald

"The writing is lyrical and striking, vividly capturing the nature of memory and the way in which love, though never simple, is contained and proven in the small, indelible moments of our lives. . . . This slim, magnificent novel is rarefied by its heartbreaking immediacy, and the moving, aching stream of consciousness chronicles not only the psychology of shock and mourning, but also the minute-by-minute way in which Nine begins to put life as she knows it in the past tense." —BookPage

“A breathlessly mannered, affecting new work . . . Small, vital snapshots make up two lives closely shared, and beautifully portrayed in this triumph of a novel."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A tender look at marriage, mathematics, life and death, and the intricacies of love . . . I Married You for Happiness elegiac and joyful simultaneously—a love letter to this marriage and to the idea of marriage in general." —Book Browse

"Tuck's crisp writing is a joy."—Kirkus Reviews

"A full and satisfying potrayal of a marriage . . . Great fodder for readers who enjoy pondering life's larger questions.”—Library Journal

"Affecting, original . . . Rich in sentiment, poignancy, and honesty."—Booklist

"Tuck is an elegant, spare writer who limns her characters in a few swift sentences. . . . Her ability to work mathematical concepts into a literary novel is impressive. . . . For the unmarried, I Married You for Happiness will do what great fiction does: draw you into another's life, allowing you to inhabit it vicariously, emerging with an increased understanding of something previously unknown. If you are happily married, your worst fears about your spouse predeceasing you will be miserably, brightly illuminated, the better you may see them in the harshly brilliant light of quality fiction." —PopMatters

About the Author

Born in Paris, Lily Tuck is the author of four previous novels: Interviewing Matisse or the Woman Who Died Standing Up, The Woman Who Walked on Water, Siam, or the Woman Who Shot a Man, which was nominated for the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and The News From Paraguay, winner of the National Book Award. She is also the author of the biography, Woman of Rome, A Life of Elsa Morante. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, and are collected in Limbo, or Other Places I Have Lived. She divides her time between Maine and New York City.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,620,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lily Tuck starts with a great idea: After a man has died suddenly, have his wife reminisce about their life together. Like any reminiscences, have them short and mixed up.

Unfortunately, Nina's reminiscences are ultimately not very interesting: What they ate, which islands they vacationed at, mathematical discussions, French quotes, worries that cannot be resolved, pointless jealousies, etc.

I will be honest: If my spouse dies, I will probably have similar thoughts that will not be interesting to anyone else. This will be especially true right after the death.

However, Nina seems to have been an observer in her own life. She has drifted through her upper middle class life and it looks like her future will be to continue drifting. Even when she has life-changing experiences, she looks back on them as if they happened to someone else--they didn't have any significant impact on her life. She occasionally worries about lying, but not enough to do anything about it and doesn't even take time to confront what the lying means.

It is possible that all the French quotes and mathematical discussions are supposed to be symbolic and revealing. I personally think that they look like affectations.

Tuck's spare writing style and her method of telling the story through short anecdotes are really effective. Ultimately, however, there wasn't enough action or character to make the book worthwhile. I was left eager to start another book by someone else to feed my hunger for stories that say something real about life.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In this beautifully written book, we review the history of a marriage. We spend a night with Nina whose husband of 42 years Philip has unexpectedly died. Nina sits next to Philip's body and her mind flits back and forth in time revisiting important moments from their first meeting in Paris until the present.

Her mind flies like a bird, alighting at key moments in different places. We learn of her rape at the hands of a French acquaintance, which she kept secret from her husband all these years; we experience the abortion of the unwanted pregnancy that resulted and we're with her through her one brush with infidelity.

While Nina is an artist Philip is a mathematician and we get to share his perspective on quantum theory, on probabilities, on what constitutes reality. This is an intelligent book about intelligent people and we enjoy sharing their perspectives on art and science.

We travel with them to exotic places, make love with them, enjoy sailing expeditions, visit a dude ranch and we also meet their daughter Louise and various other significant characters in their lives.

Strangely, although we inhabit Nina's consciousness through this night, we get to know Philip better. By that I think I mean that he seems to be the more fully-realized character of the two.

We learn the meaning of a loving marriage. It's not perfect and both parties hide their secrets and harbor their complaints. But we understand that these two people, from their very first meeting, really love one another and that this love, enriched by a lifetime of shared experience, has only deepened over the years. And we feel very sad for Nina that this love is over for we know that never again will she share such deep intimacy with another human being.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It appears I'm in the minority here, but I loved this book! The concept, the writing, the non-chronological order. Everything. I guess I'm kind of known for liking "weird" books and when I say "weird," I mean post-modern, not chronological... books just plain packed with good writing. Which this was.

The story follows Nina as she has just discovered her husband has passed away in bed. Instead of immediately calling an ambulance (or whatever you would call when you know your significant other has passed away), Nina sits by her husband and reminisces about their entire love (and not so love) story. I think part of the reason I loved this book so much is because I kept imagining myself in Nina's position. What would I do if my husband passed away and I KNEW I was spending my very last moments by his side? I imagined myself just wanting to crawl in bed and cuddle with him, despite how morbid that sounds. I imagine that our whole relationship, the good and the bad, would pass before my eyes.

No, this isn't a happy little story you're going to get totally immersed in and follow along with from beginning to end. It's more a series of statements about marriage and love. It's paragraphs that make you think, sentences that bring tears to your eyes, and emotions that you've never felt before. At least that's what it was for me.

And it's one of those books that I have a feeling the second reading will be even better than the first.

(Oh, and I am absolutely horrible at math and can't stand it, but I really loved the mathematics talk in this book. I didn't fully understand it all, but the way Philip and Nina discussed math was real and intriguing).
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lily Tuck's `I Married You for Happiness' reminds me slightly, probably more in form than anything else, of `Gilead', the beautiful Pulitzer winning novel by Marilynne Robinson. Written in similar fashion, Tuck's novel tells of a relationship between two souls (here between a husband and wife) in vignettes that encapsulate their entire life together and develop, rather effectively, an earnest understanding of who they were and why they were so much in love.

`I Married You for Happiness' opens rather tragically. Nina is standing over her husband's dead body. Her neighbor has just come and confirmed that Philip is, indeed, dead. Rather than immediately call and report it, Nina decides to spend the remainder of the evening with her deceased husband, drinking a bottle of wine and reflecting on their life together.

And what a life.

I say that because, and here is the most important facet, the beauty of their life is that it was nothing special. They had a life. They met, they loved, they had a child, she had an affair, they had disagreements, he spouted a lot of mathematical jargon that went over everyone's head, she struggled with her `painting', they worried about their daughter's future, he taught a class and then he died. Nothing is over dramatized. Even her affair is handled with a seeming nonchalance, as if its importance was really existent to add mere color but not to foreshadow any particular character flaws or even traits. It was an event. Those things happen. It didn't destroy her marriage, and while it obviously still haunts her (as does her husband's previous relationship with a girl named Iris) it doesn't overtake her life.

Instead of laying focus to such singular events, Lily Tuck creates something far more languid and moving here.
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