“Irving looks cunningly beyond the eye-catching gyrations of the mating dance to the morning-after implications.”—The Washington Post
The darker vision and sexual ambiguities of this sensual, ironic tale about a ménage a quatre in a New England university town foreshadow those of The World According to Garp; but this very trim and precise novel is a marked departure from the author's generally robust, boisterous style. Though Mr. Irving's cool eye spares none of his foursome, he writes with genuine compassion for the sexual tests and illusions they perpetrate on each other; but the sexual intrigue between them demonstrates how even the kind can be ungenerous, and even the well-intentioned, destructive.
“One of the most remarkable things about John Irving's first three novels, viewed from the vantage of The World According to Garp, is that they can be read as one extended fictional enterprise. . . . The 158-Pound Marriage is as lean and concentrated as a mine shaft.”—Terrence Des Pres
“Deft, hard-hitting . . . What Irving demonstrates beautifully is that a one-to-one relationship is more demanding than a free-for-all.”—The New York Times Book Review