18 Dec / Monogamy by Sue Miller [in Booklist]
Narrating the fourth of her own books, Sue Miller doesn’t so much perform as empathically embody her 13th title – the result is an aural gift to her avid readers. Three decades into Graham and Annie’s marriage, Graham unexpectedly dies in his sleep. He was a gregarious Cambridge bookseller with scores of devoted friends, and his sudden death leaves Annie – a published photographer – turning further inward. Her intimate circle of supporters quickly shrinks to her San Francisco-based daughter, Sarah; her NYC-based stepson, Lucas, by Graham’s first wife, Frieda; and Frieda herself, who is one of Annie’s closest confidantes.
Despite an initially mutually-agreed-upon open relationship, repeated infidelity eventually destroyed Frieda and Graham’s marriage, although, surprisingly, not their deeply supportive friendship, which expanded through the decades to include Annie. On the evening of Graham’s life celebration, Frieda confirms Annie’s shocking realization that Graham has also been unfaithful to Annie, irreparably damaging so much of what Annie had always believed to be true.
Negotiating betrayal and anger amidst overwhelming mourning, Annie – and the rest of Graham’s survivors – must learn to live on. Miller’s contemplative, resonating reading enhances her already affecting, haunting meditation on deception, familial bonds, and – most of all – enduring love.