Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller

This novel is about sex. No, really, it is. It certainly isn't erotic or even very arousing, but there is A LOT of sex in this book and, in fact, the strange and unexpected ending revolves around a wife walking in on a sexual scene involving her disabled, elderly, long-estranged husband.
I love Sue Miller because she writes about real people and their inner lives and relationships. Everything is mundane, everyday, normal -- on the surface. But she digs deeper and reveals the bizarre workings of her character's minds and thoughts and how that affects their, in this case, marriages, and of course the sexual aspect of marriage.
Meri and Nathan are a newly married couple who have recently moved to the East Coast, where Nathan has secured a job as a professor. Their next door neighbor is Delia, the 70-ish wife of a former senator. The novel gives parallel accounts of the two marriages and how adultery, pregnancy and children shape and define the physical and emotional bonds between husband and wife. The star of the book is Delia who is a complex and fascinating character. I was engrossed from the beginning and experienced a variety of emotions while reading this novel: amusement, revulsion, outrage. In the end I applaud it as a fabulous character study and a very satisfying read.

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