‘I have rarely seen modern marriage reproduced so faithfully in print. It’s about love once the early romance has subsided. Hilarious’ Jojo Moyes, Woman and Home
‘Standard Deviation is a marvel’ Kate Atkinson
‘Addictive reading’ Mail on Sunday
‘A comic masterpiece’ Observer
A divinely funny novel about the challenges of a good marriage, the delight and heartache of raising children, and the irresistible temptation to wonder about the path not taken.
Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.
In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?
‘Not only one of the funniest books you will ever read, but true and poignant, too. Audra is one of the most memorable comic characters ever to leap from the pages of a book’ Daily Mail
‘I love this book. it reminds me slightly of my beloved Maria Semple and Norah Ephron’ Nina Stibbe
‘There is texture, intelligence, warmth and perspicacity that lifts it into the realms of Carol Shields or Curtis Sittenfeld. It plays in my head as a movie directed by Noah Baumbach or Nora Ephron … I chuckled my way through Standard Deviation, but at times it made my heart ache’ The Times
'I love Katherine Heiny's book and underlined so many funny observations that had me laughing out loud. Amazing' Emma Gannon
‘Audra Daltry is a singular creation – a character so funny, so appealing, so sure that she can change the world for her family that she will jump right off the page and take up permanent residence in your heart’ Kate Atkinson
‘Brilliantly funny’ India Knight
‘Heiny’s novel is a comic masterpiece and her Audra is the funniest heroine ever’ Observer
So comedically spot on about middle-class mores it feels unnervingly like she’s in your head. It’s one of those books that people fervently press on you’ Jenny Colgan, Spectator Books of the Year.
‘Funny, fresh, with the kind of perceptive observations that make you see family life, friendship, parenting and marriage anew’ Mail on Sunday
‘Heiny’s characters – charming, flawed, relatable, tragic, hilarious – are faultlessly constructed, lingering long in the memory like family or friends’ Observer
‘A book so funny and perceptive I want to be friends with its author’ Laline Paull
‘There are some painfully hilarious exchanges, but underlying the jokes is an emotionally intelligent dissection of conflicting inner worlds’ Sunday Times
‘Wonderful … such a success’ New York Times Book Review
‘Both heart-piercing and, crucially, very funny’ New York Times
About the author
Katherine Heiny is the author of Single, Carefree, Mellow, a fantastically received short story collection. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and children.
This first novel from Heiny (Single, Carefree, Mellow) meanders cheerfully along, making up for its relative lack of action with its humor and insight into characters. Introverted, middle-aged Graham has been married for 12 years to his talkative, younger second wife Audra, and he's beginning to wonder whether they're really suited for each other, or if he should have stuck with his "tall and slim and regal" attorney ex-wife Elspeth, with whom he's just begun speaking again. Graham and Audra have a 10-year-old son, Matthew, who is socially awkward and obsessed with origami, and about whom they spend a good deal of their mental energy worrying. They host Thanksgiving for an assortment of quirky characters, including the misfit adults from Matthew's origami club; take their son and a friend they nickname "Derek Rottweiler" on an ill-fated fishing expedition; and attend an unexpected funeral. Heiny has a flair for peculiar but believable dialogue, and a generous attitude towards even the most inept characters, particularly Graham, whose befuddlement about his life choices and his longing to smooth things out for his son persist throughout the changes in his life. At the heart of the novel is a finely tuned awareness of the fragility of the most seemingly permanent connections and the ambivalence shot through even the hardiest forms of love.