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I Married You For Happiness by Lily Tuck
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I Married You For Happiness (edition 2012)

by Lily Tuck

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152778,635 (3.73)11
Member:Rosareads
Title:I Married You For Happiness
Authors:Lily Tuck
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Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Marraige, Grief, Loss, ebook

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I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck

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Exquisitely written story of a mostly loving marriage through vignettes as the wife looks back on their years together while at her husband's deathbed - from National Book Award Winner Lily TuckThe News from Paraguay He is a mathematician and the book is peppered with his explanations of probability, time, numbers, Einstein. Nina is an artist and their contrasting disciplines enliven the marriage (and the story)in this quiet dream of a novel. ( )
  featherbooks | Aug 9, 2013 |
I'll agree with the flap copy: "slender and powerful."

Epigraphs:

"We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its too rapid flight. We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does; so vain that we dream of times that are not and blindly flee the only one that is. The fact is that the present usually hurts. -Blaise Pascal, Pensees (#47)

"There is nothing more terrorising than the possibility that nothing is hidden. There's nothing more scandalous than a happy marriage." -Adam Phillips, Monogamy ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
I am a member of the Women's National Book Association. Here in the Charlotte chapter, we have been tossing around the idea of starting a book club for some time now but we weren't sure exactly how we'd go about it and what we'd read. And then I thought about the fact that we as a national organization create a list of Great Group Reads for October's National Reading Group month. Yup. We had a pre-selected list of books that should be ideal for reading groups all year long. And so our new book club was born, one focused solely on the list of Great Group Reads. The first book the newly formed group chose to read was Lily Tuck's I Married You For Happiness, a rumination on the nature of marriage, loss, and love.

Just before the novel starts, Philip has come home from his job as a college math professor, gone upstairs to change before dinner, and died of an apparent heart attack. And so the story opens with Nina, his wife of 43 years, holding his cooling hand in their bedroom as she spends one last night beside her husband and remembering their life together. A final goodbye before the realities of death and its attendant needs take over. Taking place over the next eight hours, Nina's thoughts flit through her memories of their long marriage, the good times and the bad, the significant and the insignificant, the known and the unknown. She recalls the story of their marriage in all its banality and its uniqueness. Her memories come in flashes, a sort of chronological chaos, perhaps reflective of sudden bereavement and the reader can't necessarily place when in their life together each separate incident occurred. She gives a voice to Philip through her memories of his erudite lectures on probability and philosophy. As she muses on their life, there are reminders of the passing of the night as well, with nocturnal sounds, the knowledge of their congealing dinner on the table, her donning the red jacket Philip once gave her as a gift that she seldom wore, the lowering level of the wine bottle beside the bed.

The writing here is spare and yet beautiful. In many ways, as Nina tells her version of their marriage, there is a frozen remoteness to the tale and she doesn't shy away from her own petty jealousies and revenges even if she tells of them in the emotional vaccuum of shock. The acknowledgment of marriage as between two people but influenced by others and always flawed is clear here. But this acknowledgment doesn't preclude the contentment or overall quiet happiness of the couple, no matter what the intrusions of others, even including infidelities. This is not a novel about the vibrant joy of the newly-wed but about the sustaining peace of enduring love. It is a brief, affecting novel, very literary and eminently discussable for book clubs. ( )
  whitreidtan | Jan 13, 2013 |
Nina's husband Philip goes upstairs for a lie down before dinner on his return from work. When he doesn't respond to her "dinner's ready" calls she goes to check on him. Philip is dead...there one minute and gone the next.

As she sits and holds his hand, she recalls their marriage from the first time they met. Like any marriage there are good and bad times, laughter and tears. Nina recalls a time when she was unfaithful to Philip and it is clear that she believed he cheated on her also. We learn of Philip's career as a mathematician and Nina's life as an artist. Their journeys to many countries are illuminating and enjoyable.

This small novel is very cleverly written, skipping from past recollections and the nightime vigil as Philip grows colder. The author has taken a large amount of references from several scientific and mathematical sources and I struggled with her "memories" of Philip's lectures which are recalled verbatim. She wasn't there, so how is she able to transcribe them? It just didn't seem right to me. I found the ending rushed and rather strange....and the title....I hated the title. It doesn't reflect the story content at all.

Overall, I do recommend this book for the the gifted writing alone, but a few tweeks here and there would have brought this novel in to the realms of greatness. ( )
  teresa1953 | Aug 18, 2012 |
A wife holds her husband's hand, he has died suddenly from an heart attack and she needs time to say goodbye. Nina and Philip [or Nin and Phi i as it appropriately says on her worn wedding ring] have been married for 43 years and this book consists of a flit through memories of Nina's life with Philip as she keeps her overnight vigil by his bed. The memories are random and you don't always know the exact chronology, she is a cultured lady and they have spent much of their life in Europe so there are several quotes in French [and a few in Italian] that are not translated [this might frustrate non-linguists], but both the time and changing language fit with the haphazard connecting of remembrances over a life together.
Philip is a mathematician and incredibly passionate about the subject; there is much sharing of concepts and ideas that surprisingly seem to have stuck in Nina's head despite the fact that she sometimes seems to be glazing over listening to them. If you are someone who struggles with maths you can still enjoy this book and just skim through these bits as there is much else to enjoy, it is almost poetic in style and there is something very visual with the vignettes described from their first meeting in a french cafe onwards.
Nina's art is not explored and shared in as much detail but there are glimpses of her work but if she obsesses about anything it is about the possibility of Philip's 'betraying' her - she seems to have a very jealous streak and this provides one of the most amusing scenes at Philip's work!
Their relationship with their only daughter, Louise, is also woven into her reminiscences and the fact that she doesn't yet know of her father's death and thus is 'still alive' in her world links in with some of the concepts explored in Philip's work.
It isn't a long read but much is packed in and if you want a beautifully written essay on the 'ups and downs' of a working marriage this is well worth a look but some may find the ending a little abrupt and too ambigious. ( )
  arkgirl1 | Apr 21, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802119913, Hardcover)

Throughout Lily Tuck’s career, she's been praised by critics for her crisp, lean language and sensuous explorations of exotic locales and complex psychologies. From Siam to Paraguay and beyond, Tuck inspires readers to travel into unfamiliar realms, and her newest novel is no exception. Slender, potent, and utterly engaging, I Married You For Happiness combines marriage, mathematics, and the probability of an afterlife to create Tuck's most affecting and riveting book yet.

“His hand is growing cold, still she holds it” is how this novel that tells the story of a marriage begins. The tale unfolds over a single night as Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Still too shocked to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long union, beginning with their meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician—a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love. As we move through select memories—real and imagined—Tuck reveals the most private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys that defined Nina and Philip's life together.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:37 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The tale unfolds over a single night as Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Still too shocked to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long union, beginning with their meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician--a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love. As we move through select memories, real and imagined, the author reveals the most private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys that defined Nina and Philip's life together.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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