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Showing 1-10 of 36 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 84 reviews
on November 29, 2012
Set mainly in San Francisco in the early 50s but with back stories in World War II and some set in Kentucky, the novel is told by Pearlie who, during World War II, leaves Kentucky to work in the war industry and in so doing she meets for the second time--the first was back in Kentucky--Holland who was rescued in the Pacific when the war ship was sunk, the meeting having taken place in San Francisco. They marry. They have a son, Sonny. He becomes a polio victim. And then Buzz enters the scene. Pearlie and Holland are black--called Negroes back then as we all know--and Buzz is white. And I am not going to tell you more than that because that would be a spoiler.
Pearlie's first-person voice is authentic and believable. My yardstick for first-person narrative is Harper Lee's brilliant and beloved "To Kill a Mockingbird." Nobody can touch Scout as a narrator. But Pearlie comes close. She is very believable.
The details from the 50s are wonderful and accurate including the horrors of what happened to Ethel Rosenberg. There are wonderful little pieces of history and Mr. Greer has tossed in to make this so authentic. This I know because I well recall the girls wearing their pony skirts, those liquids held together by wax that we kids liked including those formed int the shapes of teeth and moustaches.
But the novel is really unique because of the relationships that I won't write about. So unique and for me very realistic. I am gay. That's as much of a hint as you get. And I was married to a woman years ago.
For the one-star reviewers who say this lacks depth and content, I guess they just didn't read the same wonderful novel that I have just finished. And I have ordered mor Greer fiction.
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on August 13, 2012
The writing is poetic and beautiful, complex ideas are simply stated and the prose is like the best literature you've ever read. There is no doubt that Andrew Sean Greer is an amazing talent, the fact that the main character is not fully disclosed until almost 50 pages in seems like genius. Others seemed annoyed at this, but really, this character could be anybody, at anyplace during any time period. Due to the richly poetic writing, I find it hard to be objectionable about the plot. I disliked it. That's said, this book is worth the read, and I've had many a debate with my friends who have read the book and our opinions vary widely. I recommend it to everyone.

The main character Pearlie, a housewife seemingly in denial, has to rethink her entire marriage and what she knows about her husband Holland. It's true, we may never really know the person we love, but in a marriage (it's been my experience) you get what you give. I just didn't want Pearlie to be weak, subservient, and in denial, I didn't like it. Greer did get one thing right, most women in a relationship lose themselves in their partners, it just happens that way. Women love with their hearts and men love with their heads, mostly. I felt that Pearlie was a man's version of how a woman should/would act in that situation, but a woman knows, what a woman knows and she usually knows her husband better than he knows himself. Maybe I would have like the story more if the character of Holland was introspective, if we learned what it was about Pearlie that made her the one, this may just be the romantic in me, but I wanted more.

Story of a Marriage is just that, the story of the marriage of Pearlie and Holland and how two people so intimate can never really know each other.
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on December 28, 2014
A five star book for the way it made me savor the language (Greer is a lyrical literary master - such beautiful similes/metaphors), the way it made me care about the characters, and the way it made me admire the main character, Pearlie, whose choices were different than my own would have been--nay, whose sole focus was on a bigger picture than her emotions at the time (few possess this strength--yet the ones that do reap unfathomable rewards). That she possessed such restraint in a difficult situation, and in such an unfriendly time for her dilemma, did not seem at all improbable to me, rather admirable.

This book was my friend for the week or so I kept it close, pulling it out at every minute opportunity I had to linger over Greer's masterful work.
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on March 7, 2017
A marriage happens; events occur, time marches on through first blush to the golden age. And still even as we know this partner through our experiences, do we really know how this person will react to the stimuli that presents itself?
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on August 11, 2013
The author tries to puff up his thin plotline with pretentious prose, leaving me, as a reader, with characters so poorly developed I failed in my attempts to care about them. The idea that a wife of some years would accept the word of a total stranger that she essentially should sell her husband to him, a self-described former lover, and that this same wife would never in a six month period ask her husband if he favors the "deal", or if he had anything more than an employer/employee relationship with the stranger, is preposterous. Also beyond belief is the plotline that has a young man crippled with polio, requiring braces to walk, having to flee to Canada to avoid the Vietnam war draft. Another foundational problem with the major plotline concerns the husband's failure to claim conscientious objector status during WWII when his draft board officer asked him if he were a CO and thus gives him the opportunity to avoid military service. A bright spot: the plus-perfect English spoken by all the female characters is a tribute to the San Francisco public school system, since none of them set foot in an institution of higher learning.
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on May 5, 2013
This is an excellent description of the many different sides tha real love has; there is loyalty, treason, understanding, communication and non-communication, goodness and selfishness.......everything, beautifully described. At times it seemed to me that I really knew Pearlie and could see her little house and her child, it was incredible real to me, so I was hoping that things would turn out well for her........it all felt very real to me, in spite of the exceptional circumstances described.

I would recommend this book to all adults who love to read.
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on January 22, 2012
This is a quiet, well-crafted, and very moving work. The outcome of this unusual love story remains suspenseful throughout -- and could logically end very differently. I won't set forth the plot, as others have done so very adequately. Highly recommend..!
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on May 1, 2009
Overall, I found this to be a very thoughtful and beautifully written book. I enjoyed reading it and regretted reaching the end. For me, that's often the ultimate test of a book -- whether or not I'm sorry to say goodbye to the characters.

I agree with others who have commented that the "gotcha" twists were a bit strained. There were a few passages where I found my mind wandering, or found myself growing a bit impatient for the action to pick up. Nevertheless, it is an interesting storyline and I found the characters to be well developed, despite the spare prose and the novel's relatively short length.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to be drawn into an interesting and thought-provoking story.
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on January 7, 2017
Wonderful story. Deals with homosexuality in the times where everyone was in the closet. Develops the characters well. Answers the question, "what is a marriage".
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on May 3, 2013
The story has a lot of life's lessons, That ring true throughout the years for any age at any time. Truly a page turner and not a disappointment was there ever reading this book.
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