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Showing 1-10 of 33 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 45 reviews
on March 8, 2015
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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on April 18, 2015
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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on December 24, 2013
This is a difficult book. Not difficult to read. The author is such a skillful and sure-handed writer that it’s as easy to read as eating a bag of potato chips. No, this book is difficult is because it forces you to confront some very unpleasant things about life. Selfish and egocentric characters. (Especially the main character!) Loveless, lonely marriages. Sordid, sneaky sexual affairs. The ugly reality of having cancer and even the uglier reality of undergoing treatment for it. The never-ending struggle of raising a mentally disabled child. It even involves some difficult mathematical theories. But most of all, this book is difficult because it’s about the irreversible mistakes we make in life simply because we don’t have the courage or character to do the right thing, despite repeated opportunities to do so. So, yes, this book is difficult. But hey, everything worthwhile is difficult, right? And this book is definitely worthwhile. Because it’s brutally honest, stunningly insightful, and in the end, life affirming. The author even finds a way to take those esoteric mathematical theories and show how they help explain all the horrid mistakes (and the occasional successes) that we make in life. No, The Forever Marriage is not easy … but nobody promised you a rose garden! I’ll give it five stars, then take away one to warn you that you’re in for a bumpy ride.
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on August 15, 2012
I was struck from the very beginning by how Ann Bauer did not try to make us feel sympathy for her protagonist, or sugar coat the depth of her restlessness or resentment - and yet Carmen still came off as thoroughly human and relatable throughout, anyway. It was like being in someone's head, without any apologies or disclaimers for the ugly or selfish parts. There were shocking concepts presented without a feeling of "shock value." It was just real life, full of confusion and missed opportunities, connection and loneliness, and ultimately beauty and some semblance of fate, even if only imagined.

I was really surprised by some of the plot twists, and feel like I came away knowing a little about how I would feel going through chemo, having an affair or having a kid with Downs. But I was never bogged down and miserable, reading about those experiences.

It was just a really great book, a quick read that made me think and held my attention throughout. I wish I could convince someone close to me to devour it next, so we could talk about it together - because I suspect different people would interpret it very differently.
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on February 1, 2013
I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book after I'd read the first quarter. However, as I kept reading, I began to realize how many gems of wisdom were being offered. Human foibles and the connections that we feel with others - that's the heart of this book.

Carmen is a free spirit who got chained down by marriage. The fact that her husband is kind, rich, and respectful makes no chink in her armor. She can't stand him to touch her. This story is mesmerizing. Carmen responds to her situation by taking a lover here or there. But she seems to be a good mother and a responsible woman in just about every other way. When her husband dies, she experiences a type of "karma" that she needs to navigate through and come out the other side whole. A fantastic journey. Loved it.
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on January 31, 2016
Challenges of random life events make a difference in a lustless marriage, through affairs, children, friendships, and breast cancer. Well written and engaging. However, the ending is too pat--everything comes together. Also, it is not believable that she would be so mean to her lover who stuck by her and that she would then be satisfied with only being tied to her dead husband.
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on October 6, 2012
I was worried that this would be a depressing read due to other reviews, but I found it to be a bittersweet immersion into a complicated marriage. I think many people who have been married for any length of time will relate to the regrets you have when looking back at choices made throughout a relationship. This is not a good guy- bad guy, winner and loser type of story; everyone is flawed, and by the end of the book I wanted to hug all of them. I immediately ordered another book by this author after finishing because I miss being a part of this book.
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on June 25, 2012
I loved this book. As I read it, the rest of the world fell away and I was totally immersed in the story and captivated by the writing; I'm still thinking about it, even a week later. Bauer examines an issue--lack of love, fidelity in marriage--that I hadn't really thought about but then as I'm reading, I'm nodding, "of course, of course," which is the hallmark of great art. Although the book is very readable, engaging, funny, Bauer tackles the big questions: why we choose our mates, why we stay together, what we give up, what we gain. Brava!
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on September 21, 2012
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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on September 4, 2014
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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