“Phenomenal” (Garrison Keillor) storyteller Ann Bauer brings to life the tale of one faithless widow. Carmen wishes Jobe, the husband she never loved, dead –only to fall in love with him after he is gone. As she helps her three children grieve, she discovers, after a tryst with her most recent lover, that her own life may be in danger. Heremotions reeling, Carmen reflects on the fateful days of her youth that made her the person she has become: privileged suburban wife, unfaithful widow, mother of a child with Down syndrome, fierce friend. The Forever Marriage is at its heart a mystery, and the mystery is what, exactly, the nature of Carmen and Jobe’s marriage might have been. Page-turning and irreverent, The Forever Marriage is a compelling examination of a relationship and of a woman facing up to her imperfect past. It meritscomparison to the best work of Anne Tyler, Elizabeth Berg, and Alice Sebold.
About Ann Bauer
Ann Bauer is author of a novel, A Wild Ride up the Cupboards, and co-author of a culinary memoir, Damn Good Food. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Elle, Redbook, and The Sun. From 2006 to 2010, she was a regular contributor to Salon. She lives in Minneapolis. Visit annBauer.com.
Narcissistic Carmen Garrett is newly widowed. Married to her brilliant husband, Jobe, for more than 20 years, she has been waiting for him to die so that she can begin to live her life. She and Jobe meet when he is a graduate student in England, where she travels after the death of her mother. After returning to the United States, he invites Carmen to visit his family in Baltimore, and Carmen remains there as a guest of the Garretts, who also pay for her last year of college when she can’t do so. Upon graduation—Jobe with his doctorate and Carmen with her bachelor’s degree—the two marry. Although Carmen never loves the socially and physically awkward mathematician, their marriage produces three children. At the time of Jobe’s death from leukemia, Luca, their Down Syndrome son, is 20 years old; highly intelligent Siena is 17 years old; and young Michael is 12. Carmen wants to help her children cope with the loss of their father, but she is relieved that she no longer has to live with the subterfuge of their marriage. She’s not only wealthy from Jobe’s life insurance, but she is free to continue her affair with Danny. But the diagnosis of her own life-threatening illness causes Carmen to closely examine the choices and the emotions that have shaped her marriage and her life. As she faces her own mortality, she must also face her past. At times dispassionate and self-absorbed and at other times emotional and selfless, Carmen follows a path of self-discovery that is often painful, poignant and undeniably real. Bauer crafts an insightful story that is uncomfortable and bleak, but well-written. – Kirkus Reviews
‘The Forever Marriage’ serves up painful honesty
The Washington Post Book Review – August 6, 2012 (Excerpt)
Jobe Garrett isn’t named for the biblical Job, but he might as well be. True, he’s a mathematical genius. But he’s ugly, ungainly, socially and sexually awkward. His wife is unfaithful. His first child is born with Down syndrome. Then, before he can solve the mathematical puzzle that has obsessed him his whole life, he dies tragically young, as he always foretold he would.
Jobe dies in the very first sentence of Ann Bauer’s piquant novel, “The Forever Marriage.”That leaves his wife, Carmen, to care for their three children and face her own trial: Soon after burying Jobe, she is diagnosed with breast cancer. And though she insists that she never loved her husband, she’s surprised to find herself genuinely grieving his loss.
If this seems like a plot that requires the violins of a Lifetime movie, rest assured that Bauer doesn’t go all vibrato on the heartstrings. On the contrary, one of the novel’s chief strengths is that its heroine is so sharp and unsentimental. No perfect mourning widow, Carmen continues to keep her weekly hotel assignation with her married lover, Danny. But rather than freeing her, Jobe’s death suddenly makes her affair less scintillating. Sex with Danny now seems as mundane as marriage itself: “It reminded Carmen vaguely of unloading the dishwasher, taking bundles of forks out and setting them in a drawer. Not unpleasant, by any means, and satisfying in its way.” [Read the full article...]
THE SABRINA STRONG SERIES by LORELEI BELL