A Happy Marriage: A Novel
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A stunningly candid and revelatory love story by an acclaimed novelist and screenwriter whose return to fiction after a long hiatus will be heralded by critics and readers.
In the 1970s Yglesias’s first novels, written while he was a teenager, were hailed by critics as the arrival of a young American genius. A Happy Marriage, his first novel in thirteen years, is a gorgeous and moving story about a thirty- year marriage, inspired by his own relationship with his wife, who died in 2004.
Told from the husband’s point of view, with revelatory and sometimes disarming candor, A Happy Marriage is the story of Enrique Sabas and his wife Margaret, alternating between the first three weeks of their acquaintance (a comic and romantic misadventure) and the bittersweet final weeks of Margaret’s life as she says goodbye to her family, friends, and children. Laced throughout with intimate recollections of moments of crises and joy from the middle years of their relationship, the novel charts the ebb and flow of marriage, illuminating the mysteries and magic of marital love.
Neither sentimental nor cynical, and written with an intense devotion to character and emotional suspense, A Happy Marriage reveals a partnership that brings maturity and great pleasure to the lives of two people. Bold, elegiac, and stunningly vivid, A Happy Marriage will break every reader’s heart—and perhaps infuse some marriages with greater love.
two-by-four. He felt Margaret’s hands on him, trying to gather him to her. He pushed her away, hiding his face, angry and ashamed. He felt it was her fault: his betrayal of his family, the mockery of them in his head, the fake peace that Margaret had demanded he sustain with his father, his half brother, and mother, so that family gatherings with her children wouldn’t be even crazier. It was all her doing, including that he had failed to stay by his father’s deathbed. It was Margaret who told him
incinerated by a terrorist’s plane or shattered by an errant taxi. Even in her dying, he consoled himself, she was giving him something precious, a time for them to part with grace. But he had miscalculated. Her decision to die brought a crowd. chapter five The Orphans’ Dinner HE TRIED TO be late. Not truly late, just the proper ten or fifteen minutes so he wouldn’t be the first to arrive, which was odd, because he wanted more than anything to be alone with her. He was dressed an
dancing party?” “No!” “Yeah, that’d be a fucking nightmare. Dancing. It’s sex with all of the work and no fun.” “All the potential for ridicule and none of the fun,” Enrique amended. Sal laughed, with the relaxed grace of a man who knows with whom and when he will next get laid. “Don’t be nervous. She likes you, Mr. Ricky. It’s obvious. She would have torn your clothes off if that bozo Bernard wasn’t there. Women don’t stay up all night talking ’cause they want to hear what men have to say.”
B & H camera store, where Margaret bought her supplies. He discussed what to get her at length with a young salesman who looked older because of his full beard. His chubby, pasty cheeks wobbled as he suggested what would be an exciting camera for a serious photographer. The answer appealed to Enrique, a Rollei-flex from the 1950s. The dimpled black metal box had the cool retro look and heft of World War II, a romantic time in Enrique’s imagination. The devout salesman explained that “Rolleis” had
instead, she remained thus perched, her legs wide open, exposing the faded denim of her smooth pelvis. Enrique couldn’t sustain a long investigation of that region. His eyes dropped involuntarily to what he would one day learn was a triple-A foot dangling in the space between them. He didn’t know that her narrow size was very troublesome to a woman who loved shoes, or that the black suede boot swinging toward and away from him had been anguished over because of its high cost. To his male and