The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer
Pearlie Cook is a housewife in San Francisco post-World War II. She lives in a small house with her husband Holland and young son who has polio. Pearlie knew Holland when they were both growing up in the South, was his girlfriend back home before he went into the war. When she arrived in San Francisco, she met him again entirely by accident, and it was not long before he told her that he needed her to marry him.
I was a bit apprehensive when Pearlie married Holland, because it really didn’t seem that she knew him at all, which given the rest of the book is probably exactly what I should have been feeling. Holland doesn’t talk much about his time in the war, so Pearlie really is not expecting it when Buzz comes to their front door, claiming to be a friend of Holland’s from when he was in the army. Even less expected than Buzz’s presence, however, is what he will tell Pearlie and the sacrifice he will ask of her.
Initially I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about this book. There is a sort of dreamy, far-off quality about the story, particularly in the beginning and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to identify with any of the characters because of it. However, Greer’s beautiful, lyrical writing soon drew me into the story. It made sense for the novel to have such a dreamy quality, because much of what happened seemed surreal to Pearlie.
This is a wonderfully done work of literary fiction. If you stick primarily with contemporary fiction and don’t venture much into literary fiction this may not quite work for you, but if you enjoy literary fiction I highly suggest you give this a read.