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A Happy Marriage: A Novel by Rafael Yglesias
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A Happy Marriage: A Novel (original 2010; edition 2009)

by Rafael Yglesias

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3583061,451 (3.93)21
A Happy Marriage, Yglesias's return to fiction after a thirteen-year hiatus, was inspired by his relationship with his wife, who died in 2004. Both intimate and expansive, it is a stunningly candid novel that alternates between the romantic misadventures of the first weeks of the courtship of Enrique Sabas and his wife Margaret and the final months of her life as she says good-bye to her family, friends, and children--and to Enrique. Spanning thirty years, this achingly honest story is about what it means for two people to spend a lifetime together--and what makes a happy marriage. "Anyone in a relationship will be able to relate," said USA TODAY . Told from the husband's point of view, with revelatory and sometimes disarming candor, the novel charts the ebb and flow of marriage, illuminating both the mundane moments and the magic. Bold, elegiac, and emotionally suspenseful, Yglesias's beautiful novel will break every reader's heart--while encouraging all of us with its clear-eyed evocation of the enduring value of marital love.… (more)
Member:lkuechen
Title:A Happy Marriage: A Novel
Authors:Rafael Yglesias
Info:Scribner (2009), Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
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A Happy Marriage: A Novel by Rafael Yglesias (2010)

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» See also 21 mentions

English (29)  German (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
If reading about dying bothers you, don't pick it up. If reading about insecure people bothers you, don't pick it up. If you want to read a good story about how a husband prepares himself and his family for his wife's death, and flashbacks to other times in their relationship, then you'll probably enjoy this story. I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it. There are parts I thought were very slow and boring and frustrating. There were other parts that moved along quickly and were interesting. And there were parts that just made you want to curl up and cry. ( )
  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
Emotional, amazingly frank, deliciously happy and gut-wrenchingly sad - and so good. I loved it! ( )
  slsmith101 | Jul 12, 2017 |
I would give this book 5 stars alone just on technical merit, emotional attachment, style, you name it. But the subject matter is SO HARD. If it hadn't been for Book Club, I would have never picked this up.
But I'm glad I did. And I'd like to read something ele by Yglesias, hopefully to balance this out.

So... to actually review this...

The story is of a marriage, and is told from the early days when they met, and the last days, when the wife, Margaret, is dying. It is interesting to observe through Enrique the maturation of love, the devotion they have to each other, body and soul, how that changes yet never really leaves. There are moments of passion, when they think they can do nothing but go forward with this love, and moments of decision, when they have to choose to commit and re-commit. There are so many moments of illumination, when you see what love comes down to for all of us: how simple are our needs, and yet how complicated meeting those needs becomes, until we look back and see the gifts we were given all along.

There is regret, of course. The story is told through Enrique, so we're not sure what Margaret might regret. And there is the torture of realizing there's not enough time to say it all, let alone do it all: even in a 29-year marriage, with partners who are blessed enough to be able to spend the last months by each other's sides, there still isn't enough time.

If you're up for the challenge, this is a great book. But you will be moved to tears, probably every chapter. ( )
  LauraCerone | May 26, 2016 |
In this autobiographical novel, Yglesias explores a happy, if far from perfect, marriage primarily through the eyes of the husband, Enrique Sabas, as he faces his wife Margaret’s death. The novel opens with the 21-year-old Enrique being introduced to the two-or-three-years-older Margaret through a mutual friend, Bernard. Enrique is smitten, but knows this lovely creature is out of his league. He’s a high-school dropout; she studied at Cornell. The fact that he has already published two or three novels and lives on the money he’s earned as a writer does nothing to calm his fears and self-doubt. Bernard was right when he refused to introduce them before: Margaret is way out of Enrique’s league. The next chapter flies forward thirty years to his wife’s hospital bed, where Enrique watches Margaret in a drug-induced sleep while he ponders how he will get the courage to negotiate the terms of her death, fighting against doctors, her parents, and friends, to grant this woman he loves one final wish – to die at home.

The novel alternates with each chapter between the final two weeks of Margaret’s life and the early days of their courtship and marriage. It’s a testament to Yglesias’s skill as a writer that the reader (obviously already knowing the marriage will happen and last) is just as anxious as Enrique that Margaret like him, feels his nervousness as he dallies so as not to arrive too early to dinner, worries whether his own failings and mistakes will cause irreparable harm to their relationship. There were times I wanted to throttle him; there were times I wanted to console him. And Margaret is not without faults, though I think Yglesias allowed Enrique to dwell on her faults too much. A word of warning to the reader who is squeamish: Yglesias writes with brutal honesty about the horrors and indignities of a major illness. The final chapter hurls the reader back and forth between Margaret’s final moments and the beginnings of their relationship. I was moved to tears, at the same time my heart swelled with love and joy.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
I found this to be an excellent novel. It has a really well thought-out structure which is used in a brilliant way to help deliver the message of the story. What is a marriage all about? What is required in order to declare it a success? These questions are examined in quite a deep way and without any trite answers being offered.The book is written from a profoundly masculine perspective which, as a man, I don't often find to be useful. In this case, however, I found that the male perspective seemed to be aligned well with the sort of view that I might take, and many of the issues raised are those that might come up in my mind in similar circumstances.

Dealing with a dying person is something that is on my mind at the moment and so that's another reason why this book particularly resonated with me.

This is my first book by this author, but Yglesias is definitely a name I'll look for on my local library's shelves next time I'm there and I wouldn't be surprised if he jumps onto my favourites list in the future. ( )
  oldblack | Dec 26, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Yglesias' novel is a stunner... by turns wrenching, amusing and exasperating.
added by Shortride | editPeople, Michelle Green (Aug 24, 2009)
 
The mystery of what’s at the heart of a marriage can’t be unlocked, or even fully captured in words. But Enrique and Margaret are anything but common, distinct both as characters and in the endurance of their love.
 
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A Happy Marriage, Yglesias's return to fiction after a thirteen-year hiatus, was inspired by his relationship with his wife, who died in 2004. Both intimate and expansive, it is a stunningly candid novel that alternates between the romantic misadventures of the first weeks of the courtship of Enrique Sabas and his wife Margaret and the final months of her life as she says good-bye to her family, friends, and children--and to Enrique. Spanning thirty years, this achingly honest story is about what it means for two people to spend a lifetime together--and what makes a happy marriage. "Anyone in a relationship will be able to relate," said USA TODAY . Told from the husband's point of view, with revelatory and sometimes disarming candor, the novel charts the ebb and flow of marriage, illuminating both the mundane moments and the magic. Bold, elegiac, and emotionally suspenseful, Yglesias's beautiful novel will break every reader's heart--while encouraging all of us with its clear-eyed evocation of the enduring value of marital love.

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