“A sensual and perceptive novel. . . . With humor and humanity, Miller resists the simple scorned-wife story and instead crafts a revelatory tale of the complexities—and the absurdities—of love, infidelity, and grief.” —O, the Oprah Magazine
A brilliantly insightful novel, engrossing and haunting, about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow, from New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller.
Graham and Annie have been married for nearly thirty years. Their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances. By all appearances, they are a golden couple.
Graham is a bookseller, a big, gregarious man with large appetites—curious, eager to please, a lover of life, and the convivial host of frequent, lively parties at his and Annie’s comfortable house in Cambridge. Annie, more reserved and introspective, is a photographer. She is about to have her first gallery show after a six-year lull and is worried that the best years of her career may be behind her. They have two adult children; Lucas, Graham’s son with his first wife, Frieda, works in New York. Annie and Graham’s daughter, Sarah, lives in San Francisco. Though Frieda is an integral part of this far-flung, loving family, Annie feels confident in the knowledge that she is Graham’s last and greatest love.
When Graham suddenly dies—this man whose enormous presence has seemed to dominate their lives together—Annie is lost. What is the point of going on, she wonders, without him?
Then, while she is still mourning Graham intensely, she discovers a ruinous secret, one that will spiral her into darkness and force her to question whether she ever truly knew the man who loved her.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We’re always excited when Sue Miller finds a new way to dig into the complexities of the American family. Annie and Graham have been married for about 30 years, living happily in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Annie is a photographer and Graham owns a beloved local bookstore that neighbours gravitate to for his friendship, warmth, and generosity. When he dies suddenly, Annie is forced to reckon with all he’s left behind—including a devastating secret that makes her re-examine their entire life together. Miller’s writing is exquisitely detailed and she explores Annie’s conflicting emotions with insight and nuance. As she did in bestsellers like The Good Mother and While I Was Gone, Miller uses the idea of family to explore the many beautiful, intricate, imperfect forms that love can take in our lives. While Annie tries to reconcile her love for Graham with a side of him she never knew, Miller carries us along with her on this unforgettable journey that kept us wondering: Can a broken heart ever really be whole again?
Miller (The Arsonist) delivers a robust, character-driven examination of the inner workings of a lengthy marriage. Domestic tranquility quickly totters into roiling turmoil as photographer Annie McFarlane struggles with grief after the sudden death of Graham, her bookstore-owning husband of almost 30 years. When Annie met Graham on the opening night of his shop in Harvard Square, each was coming off a disastrous first marriage. Annie never really loved Alan, a handsome preppy filled with contempt for others, including her, and she left him. Graham's first marriage was an open one ("It had been that era"), but his prodigious affairs were too much for Frieda, who left him with their young son. Frieda and Graham remained friends after their divorce, "leading to the lasting complexity of their entwined lives." Annie feels "doubly betrayed" when she learns that Graham had confided in Frieda about a recent affair. The novel takes on various configurations, swelling with recovered memories of childhood experiences and crackling with revelations of seductive temptations at an artist's colony. Annie swirls through bitterness and missed opportunities on her way to an acceptance of a "new sorrow," while Graham's Rabelaisian, larger-than-life personality is felt even in his absence. The novel is grounded by vibrant prose, vividly portrayed secondary characters, and the resiliency of everlasting love. Miller's fans will devour this spectacular, powerful return.