Katie Roiphe’s stimulating work has made her one of the most talked about cultural critics of her generation. Now this bracing young writer delves deeply into one of the most layered of subjects: marriage. Drawn in part from the private memoirs, personal correspondence, and long-forgotten journals of the British literary community from 1910 to the Second World War, here are seven “marriages à la mode”—each rising to the challenge of intimate relations in more or less creative ways. Jane Wells, the wife of H.G., remained his rock, despite his decade-long relationship with Rebecca West (among others). Katherine Mansfield had an irresponsible, childlike romance with her husband, John Middleton Murry, that collapsed under the strain of real-life problems. Vera Brittain and George Gordon Catlin spent years in a “semidetached” marriage (he in America, she in England). Vanessa Bell maintained a complicated harmony with the painter Duncan Grant, whom she loved, and her husband, Clive. And her sister Virginia Woolf, herself no stranger to marital particularities, sustained a brilliant running commentary on the most intimate details of those around her.
Every chapter revolves around a crisis that occurred in each of these marriages—as serious as life-threatening illness or as seemingly innocuous as a slightly tipsy dinner table conversation—and how it was resolved…or not resolved. In these portraits, Roiphe brilliantly evokes what are, as she says, “the fluctuations and shifts in attraction, the mysteries of lasting affection, the endurance and changes in love, and the role of friendship in marriage.” The deeper mysteries at stake in all relationships.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Fantasy eBook: Uncommon Arrangements|
|Release Date: 06-26-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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H.G. and Jane Wells
"Between the ages of thirty and forty I devoted a considerable amount of mental energy to the general problem of men and women . . ."—H. G. Wells
AUGUST 5, 1914. A few minutes after midnight as Britain was entering the war, an illegitimate baby was born in a conspicuously anonymous redbrick house on the northern coast. His mother, Rebecca West, whose real name, which nobody used, was Cicily Fairfield, held the sleeping bundle in her arms, while her sister and a friend perched on her bed. The baby's father, H. G. Wells, was one hundred miles away, sitting up late in his llama-wool pajamas, in the second-floor study of his large comfortable house in Essex, putting the finishing touches on an essay for the Daily Chronicle, which he was planning to call "The War That Will End War." He poured himself a cup of tea, which he had brewed himself on the small stove nestled in the fireplace, and nibbled a dry biscuit. His wife, Jane, was asleep in the bedroom, her dark blond hair fanned out against the pillow. He loved his wife, and he loved his young mistress. He loved his ivy-covered Georgian house, Easton Glebe, which was a gracious symbol of how far he had come from his hardscrabble origins. Unlike nearly everyone he knew, Wells was feeling optimistic about the war, exhilarated by the possibilities of the world in flux. Through his window he could see the familiar outline of a fig tree in the darkness.
Wells prided himself on the fact that there had been no deception. Jane knew all about the affair. This was not the first one, and it would not be the last. Jane was his anchor, his foundation, his sanity-there was no qu