Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Quiet Little Novel About Life......


T'is the season to be busy!! So busy, that I am about 4 reviews behind, and that never happens to me! But since I'm hosting a Giveaway for Matrimony by Joshua Henkin (291 pgs, 2007), I thought it would be prudent to let you all know what I thought about the book!!

"Out! Out! Out! The first words Julian Wainwright ever spoke, according to his father, Richard Wainwright III, graduate of Yale and grand lubricator of the economic machinery, and Constance Wainwright, Wellesley graduate and descendant of a long family of Pennsylvania Republicans. Julian, the first Wainwright in four generations to be given his own Christian name. Julian's father would have liked another Richard, but Julian's mother was a persistent woman and she believed a child of hers was entitled to his own identity and therefore his own name.

In 1986, seventeen-year-old Julian Wainwright leaves New York City to go to college. Early on, Julian knew he would never follow in his father's footsteps and become an investment banker. It wasn't in his heart. And he certainly didn't want to go to Yale. Instead Julian enrolled at Graymont, a small liberal arts college in Northington, Massachusettes, and set his sights on becoming a writer. He had come to Graymont to study fiction writing under Professor Chesterfield, a man who had written one novel. His novel had been sold to Hollywood. Plagued by troubles from the start, the movie was never made...and it started Chesterfield on a road to a 20-year Writer's block.

It was in Chesterfield's Fiction Workshop, where Julian met Carter Heinz....the only other promising writer in the bunch. The two became best friends, and spent most of their time together....mostly out of convenience. Carter was a scholarship kid from California, and it was hard for Julian to really understand him. Julian's parents were rich, and he never had to worry about money. Carter always felt like he was on the outside because he didn't have money. Nevertheless, the two remained friends.

It was also during Freshman year that Julian met Mia Mendelsohn. He had picked her picture out of the freshman facebook, and dubbed her "Mia from Montreal". He had decided she was the one for him. And when he actually meets her, the two started dating, and by Senior year, they are living together.

But Senior year is a year for change and when Mia's mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, things really change. Mia and Julian got married right after graduation. It wasn't a romantic thing to do....Mia wanted her mother there to see it. Did they love each other? Sure, but they really did rush marriage.

Through college, grad school and years of writer's block, Matrimony takes you through the lives and times of Julian and Mia. This book isn't chocked full of explosions or cliff-hangers. What Matrimony is full of is a lot of intense character study. It's a slow, quiet little novel. And that's not a bad thing. Josh Henkin lets us peek into the lives of Julian and Mia at certain moments in time. The characters are so-well developed, that even though there isn't always a lot of action, you really care what happens to these people. This is real life.

I haven't read a lot of literary fiction lately. But Matrimony, which was a NY Times Notable Book for 2007 is certainly a winner. If you want to read a wonderful character study, this one is for you. Don't forget to sign up for my giveaway either. Go to this post!! 4.5/5

8 comments:

michellekae said...

Thanks for your review. I as well loved the book. I loved to follow the characters along their lives and adventures.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Michelle! I thought it was a really great book. And I really cared what happened to them.

Serena said...

I agree it is a quiet novel.

Andi said...

I have this one on my stacks. I've been in a rut, but maybe what I need is a character study. I might pick it up and give it a try. Thanks for a great review, Stephanie!

Literary Feline said...

I really liked this book too, Stephanie. I came to really care about the characters and their stories. Great review!

Carl V. said...

Fantastic cover, reminds me of the cover of Time Traveler's Wife. It is such a simple idea, shoes, but it conveys so much.

S. Krishna said...

"Quiet" is the perfect word for this novel - nice review!

samantha.1020 said...

I've got this on my list to review as well. I'm hosting a giveaway for him as well if you want to let others know. Maybe someone that didn't win here can win a copy at my blog :) Great review btw!