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The Forever Marriage Hardcover – June 14, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Told with delicacy and humor."

"A triumph of good writing."

"Told with delicacy and humor."----Garrison Keillor


"A triumph of good writing."---"The Washington Post"

"Bauer expertly maps the ferocity and anguish of a parent's love . . . Exceptional storytelling."---"Entertainment Weekly"

"Written in a contemporary style that evokes the work of Anne Tyler, this is not only a well-nuanced story of youthful mistakes and adult consequences but also an unflinching look at one woman's fight against breast cancer."---"Booklist"

"With quiet power, Bauer explores the isolation, betrayal, duty, and, finally, compassion that constitute an unhappy marriage . . . With lovely prose and fine pacing, Bauer (A "Wild Ride Up the Cupboards") offers a sensitive portrait of a flawed woman coming to terms with a lifetime of regrets."---"Publishers Weekly", starred review

"Bauer deftly draws all the characters. Love or hate Carmen, readers won't soon forget the hot-blooded woman, and fans of Elizabeth Berg will want to meet her."---"Library Journal"

"Bauer's second novel ("A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards", 2005) offers an introspective study of a woman as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery . . . At times dispassionate and self-absorbed and at other times emotional and selfless, Carmen follows a path of self-discovery that is often painful, poignant and undeniably real. Bauer crafts an insightful story . . . It's a journey well worth taking."---"Kirkus"


"Compelling . . . Bauer and "The Forever Marriage" poignantly and powerfully illustrate the great and often tragic ironies of life . . . a perfect read."---"Minneapolis Star Tribune"

"Summarizing the plot of this richly layered and nuanced story could leave an impression that it's grim. It isn't. The novel is infused with a sense of grace and redemption for characters Bauer makes us care about."---"St. Paul Pioneer Press"

"Funny, surprising and gratifyingly honest, this novel poses unsparing questions about love and betrayal and the reasons we make the choices we do."---"More Magazine"

"While in many ways a quiet story with a subtle arc, it is also an emotionally powerful page-turner--memorable and exquisitely written."--BookReporter.com

About the Author

Ann Bauer is author of two novels, The Forever Marriage and A Wild Ride up the Cupboards, and co-author of the culinary memoir, Damn Good Food. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Elle, Redbook, and The Sun. From 2006 to 2010, she was a regular contributor to Salon. She splits her time between Minneapolis and Boston.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (June 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590207211
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590207215
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,576,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Forever Marriage blew me away with its intelligence and unflinching honesty. Carmen is a deeply flawed, deeply relatable character, and Bauer analyzes her far-reaching, sometimes kind-hearted and sometimes just plain wrong-headed choices with a clear gaze and a lovely, surprising style. This is a book about a complex woman and a troubled marriage, and Bauer depicts both with compassion and clarity. When I put the book down I felt something I don't always feel, as a reader: that my own intelligence was respected and challenged as I was granted access to Carmen's thoughts and emotions. I can't recommend this highly enough!
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Format: Hardcover
After reading the stellar (all 5 star) reviews for "The Forever Marriage," I decided to buy and read it. Knowing this was a novel with "a feminine slant" to it, nonetheless I am an adventuous reader, especially when the reviews warrant me to be.

Good writing? yes. Characters described in detail? Yes. Contemporary, true-to-life story? Could be. But other than a true-to-life topic, this novel had a convenient, sort of predictable and less than fulfilling ending which (finally) came. There was a lot of plodding, redundant and (overly) depressing subject matter and dialogue in which the author seemed to allow herself to go repeatedly without much anecdotal uplifting writing - not necessarily humorous, given the subject matter - but a chuckle here and there could have improved the story.

It was a challenge for me to finish this book and when I finally did I was less than satisfied then previous reviewers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This story never picks up. I tried to give it a chance and read half of it. You just never really empathize with the main character. You can't understand why she has no real passion or interest in anyone but herself. She's a very self-centered, un-relatable character, which just makes the whole book boring.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is about imperfect characters, an imperfect marriage and the strains and rewards of going on with life -- in this case -- also in the face of huge physical obstacles. These characters touched and spoke to me because of their imperfections -- and I could relate. Carmen, the main character -- stuck in her imperfect life -- reaches out and grabs tightly onto your heart, remaining there for the duration and long afterwards. Her life with her unloved husband, her children, her lover, her adored mother-in-law, and friends faces unbelievable obstacles -- her husband's death, her own terrible breast cancer diagnosis and fight to stay alive, her children's problems. It never ends but then, it doesn't for any of us, does it? The mathmetician husband's thinking and theme grounds the whole novel somehow in improbability and how expected the totally unexpected can be. The riveting story, and the incredible and luminous writing, touched me with every word.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although I could not turn the pages quickly enough, I did not want The Forever Marriage to end. This is the story of imperfect people who are realistic because of their flaws. Carmen, a college student, accidentally meets Jobe, a brilliant mathematician, while in London. Despite the many differences between them and the red flags flying in Carmen's face, they ultimately marry.

By the time of the wedding, Carmen has been living with Jobe's wealthy family for months and has become close to Jobe's parents, especially his mother, Olive. Despite what seem like ideal circumstances, Carmen is not in love with Jobe and almost becomes a runaway bride. Instead she marries out of guilt and a sense of obligation.

Because Jobe seems incapable of providing the kind of love Carmen craves, they drift even farther apart, and Carmen begins a long-term affair. The marriage plods along even after the births of three children, the oldest of whom has Down Syndrome. After Jobe is diagnosed with cancer, Carmen cannot find a way to love him, even when his condition is terminal. A part of her views his inevitable death as a way out.

Carmen herself is diagnosed with breast cancer. She and her beloved mother-in-law become even closer, and Olive reveals startling secrets of her own. Carmen reflects on her marriage, in light of Olive's confession, and reaches conclusions that surprise her.

Ann Bauer is a wonderful storyteller. I was prepared to dislike Carmen and feel pity for Jobe. After all, I asked myself, how could I like a seemingly cold-hearted woman like Carmen? I liked her because Ms. Bauer made her real, flaws and all, as she did with each character in the story.

The Forever Marriage is a moving, unforgettable love story. I recommend it to everyone who appreciates the beauty of excellent writing and character development.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved how the story was weaved together and kept interesting by the flashbacks and current events. The ending was slightly disappointing but I understand the character's flaw much better let's just say.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A little disappointed. The book has a somewhat unusual premise/setting, but it was difficult for me to relate to the never-ending narcissism and shallowness of the main character. Snapped me out of a bout with the blues, though. Made me glad to be me.
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By katie78 on March 8, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ann Bauer's novel, The Forever Marriage, opens with the death of the main character's husband. But as we read on, Carmen manages to avoid our sympathy. It turns out that she experiences his death as a relief, and not just because it ends his suffering.

The mother of three, including a son with Down's Syndrome, Carmen managed to find time to cheat on the dying husband she never loved in spite of his being a pretty swell guy. In flashbacks to the 80s, she explains how she was manipulated into marrying him because he was wealthy and nice to her and she had no idea what to do after college.

I enjoy a flawed main character and thought Carmen was ripe for a pretty intense story of redemption. But I was disappointed to find her not much changed by the book's end. The story was well-written but I found most of the dilemmas difficult to relate to or car about.
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