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The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller
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The Senator's Wife (2008)

by Sue Miller

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I've never read Sue Miller, so I don't know if this book is representative of her work. If it is, I won't read her again. The title character is Delia Naughton, married to a Kennedy-esque philanderer until she finally boots him out, allowing him in and out of her life both for politics and for love. Much of the book is from the viewpoint of her young neighbor Meri, an unhappy new mother who develops a fascination/obsession with Delia and her husband Tom.

For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I can't say much about the denouement except that it is, in my opinion, icky, and just very odd. And I will break my usual rule and make the annoying comment that I found the characters unlikable. For all that this is "women's fiction," it read to me like an ode to the Male-Identified Woman, and I can't identify with that at all. ( )
  CasualFriday | May 20, 2016 |
Some novels are written by men for men and some are written by women for women. This one is in the latter category. Its focus is entirely from the points of view of Delia, the senator’s wife and Meri, her next-door neighbour, and Miller uses these two women to explore ideas relevant to women, for example, giving birth, bonding or not with babies, sex after giving birth . . .

I found it difficult to enjoy any of this book, not so much because of what themes it dealt with rather shallowly but because of the ever-present, saturating and irrelevant detail Miller felt compelled to include. For example, when Delia gives Meri a piece of wrapped fudge during a brief car trip, we then read ‘Delia popped the last bit of fudge into her mouth and handed over the wrap. Meri crumpled that up too, and put both into her purse’. I wonder if Miller has ever read any James Joyce or Cormac McCarthy or Ernest Hemingway, all of whom used detail to add meaning to their narratives whereas Miller just bulks up hers with descriptions such as Delia ‘was wearing a red dress with a fitted top and a loose skirt that swirled around her as she moved’.

Instead of real insights we are offered what Meri calls rather affectedly little ‘aperçus’ by Delia, most of which once again don’t go very far, though one or two did resonate, such as when she has her regular breakfast (described in detail) and then thinks of it as ‘the consolation of the daily’ and I can see how routine habits do give us a sense of coping. Still, it’s not really much of a perception.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the relationship between Meri and Delia, the latter finding it difficult to maintain her patience with Meri as she flounders after having a baby. Miller didn’t go for a great rapport between the two women, and Meri herself is of some interest with her flaws though I hope we’re not really meant to accept that what she did with Tom was ‘out of love’ as is finally suggested, but I suspect I hope in vain. ( )
  evening | Apr 17, 2016 |
story of lives in a duplex house. Interesting tale woven together with a few twists and turns. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
Years ago Sue Miller became one of my favorite authors. I've read all of her books, and like the others, I enjoyed this one too. ( )
  cjservis | Jan 17, 2016 |
rabck from dvg; Mostly about Delia - the Senator's wife, although I didn't understand why part of the story was about Meri also until the end. Delia has been married for years to former senator Tom Naughton. They live apart because of Tom's chronic infidelity, but yet Delia never divorces him. When it's convenient for her, she arranges a get-away for them together, and they act like long lost lovers. When Tom, late in life, has a stroke, Delia brings him into her house to care for him, only to discover that despite his body being maimed by the stroke, he still has his wits and a roving eye. ( )
  nancynova | Mar 18, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307276694, Paperback)

Meri is newly married, pregnant, and standing on the cusp of her life as a wife and mother, recognizing with some terror the gap between reality and expectation. Delia—wife of the two-term liberal senator Tom Naughton—is Meri's new neighbor in the adjacent New England town house. Tom's chronic infidelity has been an open secret in Washington circles, but despite the complexity of their relationship, the bond between them remains strong. Soon Delia and Meri find themselves leading strangely parallel lives, as they both reckon with the contours and mysteries of marriage: one refined and abraded by years of complicated intimacy, the other barely begun. With precision and a rich vitality, Sue Miller—beloved and bestselling author of While I Was Gone—brings us a highly charged, superlative novel about marriage and forgiveness.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:34 -0400)

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This is a story about marriage and the friendship of Meri, newly married and pregnant and Delia, the wife of a senator whose chronic infidelity is well known in Washington circles.

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