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Monogamy

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A brilliantly insightful novel, engrossing and haunting, about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow, from New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller. Graham and Annie have been married for nearly thirty years. A golden couple, their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances.  Graham is a bookseller, a big, gre A brilliantly insightful novel, engrossing and haunting, about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow, from New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller. Graham and Annie have been married for nearly thirty years. A golden couple, their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances.  Graham is a bookseller, a big, gregarious man with large appetites—curious, eager to please, a lover of life, and the convivial host of frequent, lively parties at his and Annie’s comfortable house in Cambridge. Annie, more reserved and introspective, is a photographer. She is about to have her first gallery show after a six-year lull and is worried that the best years of her career may be behind her. They have two adult children; Lucas, Graham’s son with his first wife, Frieda, works in New York. Annie and Graham’s daughter, Sarah, lives in San Francisco. Though Frieda is an integral part of this far-flung, loving family, Annie feels confident in the knowledge that she is Graham’s last and greatest love.  When Graham suddenly dies—this man whose enormous presence has seemed to dominate their lives together—Annie is lost. What is the point of going on, she wonders, without him?   Then, while she is still mourning him intensely, she discovers that Graham had been unfaithful to her; and she spirals into darkness, wondering if she ever truly knew the man who loved her.


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A brilliantly insightful novel, engrossing and haunting, about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow, from New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller. Graham and Annie have been married for nearly thirty years. A golden couple, their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances.  Graham is a bookseller, a big, gre A brilliantly insightful novel, engrossing and haunting, about marriage, love, family, happiness and sorrow, from New York Times bestselling author Sue Miller. Graham and Annie have been married for nearly thirty years. A golden couple, their seemingly effortless devotion has long been the envy of their circle of friends and acquaintances.  Graham is a bookseller, a big, gregarious man with large appetites—curious, eager to please, a lover of life, and the convivial host of frequent, lively parties at his and Annie’s comfortable house in Cambridge. Annie, more reserved and introspective, is a photographer. She is about to have her first gallery show after a six-year lull and is worried that the best years of her career may be behind her. They have two adult children; Lucas, Graham’s son with his first wife, Frieda, works in New York. Annie and Graham’s daughter, Sarah, lives in San Francisco. Though Frieda is an integral part of this far-flung, loving family, Annie feels confident in the knowledge that she is Graham’s last and greatest love.  When Graham suddenly dies—this man whose enormous presence has seemed to dominate their lives together—Annie is lost. What is the point of going on, she wonders, without him?   Then, while she is still mourning him intensely, she discovers that Graham had been unfaithful to her; and she spirals into darkness, wondering if she ever truly knew the man who loved her.

30 review for Monogamy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    As the title seems to reflect, this book is about marriage, but it really is about so much more - grief, self awareness and discovery, about family and a father, mothers and their son and daughter and about friendships and yes about a husband and his wives. These relationships beg a number of thought provoking questions. Graham is a big man in all ways, a needy man, self centered, open to life’s experiences, a father, an ex husband, a husband, an adulterer, but everyone loves him. I can’t say I l As the title seems to reflect, this book is about marriage, but it really is about so much more - grief, self awareness and discovery, about family and a father, mothers and their son and daughter and about friendships and yes about a husband and his wives. These relationships beg a number of thought provoking questions. Graham is a big man in all ways, a needy man, self centered, open to life’s experiences, a father, an ex husband, a husband, an adulterer, but everyone loves him. I can’t say I loved him, but yet I did liked him in some ways in spite of his flaws. He’s been married to Annie for thirty years, divorced from Frieda for longer than that and has a grown child with each of them. We come to know the people in his life through their relationships with him. That is the most striking thing about this story - how well we come to know the characters. It’s not just about their relationship with him, but with each other. Annie and Frieda are friends. Their children have great relationships with the women who are not their mother. Everyone loves everyone else. One big happy story, well as in life, not quite. Miller’s strength is in how she gives us a full sense of who they are and I felt as if I knew all of them. Such a realistic portrayal, with the good things about them and their imperfections . Just like most of us, a complex mix and so it makes for complex relationships, for self evaluations as the characters evaluate their feelings about Graham and about each other and most of all themselves. While it centers around a Graham, the story for me was about Annie’s journey. She was my favorite character and I was so interested in how things would be for her in the end. The writing is wonderful with Miller allowing us such an intimate look . There are no perfect relationships here, but there is genuine love . Can you really know someone, even after 30 years of marriage? Do our perceptions of people change after they die? Do you truly love someone if you are able to have an affair with another? How does one grieve when torn between grief and anger and disappointment? There’s a lot to ponder here. Having lived in Massachusetts for about five years, I enjoyed the familiarity with Cambridge where most of the novel is set. A captivating read for sure. I read this with my bookish friends Diane and Esil and as always we had a great discussion. I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    So much for my high expectations.... .... a married couple, a bookseller, ( in lovely Vermont), and a photographer....should have been interesting enough for me. Add the nice house in Cambridge, adult children, ( living in New York and San Francisco), a first wife, friendships between the two women: Annie, (present wife), & Frieda, ( ex-wife), Graham,(the charming man), the kids, a death and surprise infidelity.....sounds like the perfect enlightening book..... ha.... except it wasn’t for me. There So much for my high expectations.... .... a married couple, a bookseller, ( in lovely Vermont), and a photographer....should have been interesting enough for me. Add the nice house in Cambridge, adult children, ( living in New York and San Francisco), a first wife, friendships between the two women: Annie, (present wife), & Frieda, ( ex-wife), Graham,(the charming man), the kids, a death and surprise infidelity.....sounds like the perfect enlightening book..... ha.... except it wasn’t for me. There was nothing new under the sun in this novel. I didn’t even think the writing was anything special — from our seasoned author. That’s all I got! 2.7 rating .....a stretch to 3 stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Seeing into the heart of families, reflected in her amazing character portrayals are all apparent in this insightful and quiet novel. Marriages, motherhood, friendships and grief. Finding out at the end of a person's life, that they had perhaps not been the person you thought they were. Love, how much did it matter? Do we ever truly know how deep inside a person feels or thinks? Possibly not. Annie, Graham, their wonderful bookshop all seem so very real. I actually felt at times that I could run Seeing into the heart of families, reflected in her amazing character portrayals are all apparent in this insightful and quiet novel. Marriages, motherhood, friendships and grief. Finding out at the end of a person's life, that they had perhaps not been the person you thought they were. Love, how much did it matter? Do we ever truly know how deep inside a person feels or thinks? Possibly not. Annie, Graham, their wonderful bookshop all seem so very real. I actually felt at times that I could run across the street and knock on Annie's door, asking to borrow a bottle of wine. Miller made these characters that authentic. She makes each of them, regardless of their actions, understandable, relatable. I also loved how the characters changed throughout the book, some growing, some sorting things out but all reaching toward a time when life will again make sense. Sort of like we are now, but of course different reasons. A terrific read with slot of insight and heart. My monthly read with my two book buddies, Esil and Angela, which are always special. ARcC from Edelweiss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    At one point in this immensely readable and page-turning new novel, one of the characters describes why we read fiction: “…because it suggests that life has a shape and we feel…consoled.” Fictional narrative, she goes on to say, makes life seem to matter. It is that quality that I’ve enjoyed most in Sue Miller’s novels. Here, she sets up a storyline of a 30-year marriage: Graham is an oversized man in every sense of the word, guided by his appetite for life; Annie, his more reserved wife, is a ph At one point in this immensely readable and page-turning new novel, one of the characters describes why we read fiction: “…because it suggests that life has a shape and we feel…consoled.” Fictional narrative, she goes on to say, makes life seem to matter. It is that quality that I’ve enjoyed most in Sue Miller’s novels. Here, she sets up a storyline of a 30-year marriage: Graham is an oversized man in every sense of the word, guided by his appetite for life; Annie, his more reserved wife, is a photographer who in some ways lives in his shadow. When Graham suddenly dies—and we know this from the book jacket and blurbs—Annie and her good friend (Graham’s first wife Frieda) and their two adult children (Frieda’s son is Lucas and Annie’s is Sarah) need to navigate that painful road to self-understanding and, for some more than others, forgiveness. Part of doing so means embracing what marriage and monogamy really mean. “Is it the wounds inflicted, back and forth, the inevitable disappointments, the unbridgeable distances?” Or is it a more consoling and transcendental concept that a person can be secure in knowing that their spouse chose them and only them…on their wedding day and every single day thereafter? Do monogamy and trust go hand-in-hand? Is it possible to truly love and NOT be monogamous? The shape of each character emerges and Sue Miller displays a spot-on ability to mine the emotions and the desires of each one. We—the readers—feel as if we know them and understand their insecurities, their wants and needs, their misguided choices, and the yearning for love and connection that makes their lives matter. Most importantly, we want each of them to be happy or at least, somewhat fulfilled. The author’s enormous sensitivity to her characters made her choice of dwelling on their physical appearance a little disconcerting. Frieda, for example, is repeatedly referred to as homely and/or plain. The descriptor was fine for the first time or two, but the repetition was unnecessary. After the focus shifts from Graham, the narrative slows down a bit (one character, a pianist and old friend of Annie’s, may not be entirely needed). These are quibbles. Let it be said that I deliciously turned pages, immersed in this psychologically astute book and the world Sue Miller so painstakingly created. A heartfelt thanks to Harper books for giving me the privilege to be an early reader in return for an honest review. #MonogamyBook.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I listened to Sue Miller narrate her own novel, “Monogamy”. It’s a “quiet” story about a marriage (surprise), and its quiet strength is in all the character’s thoughts. This is not an action-packed story. It’s a slow story revolving around the marriage of Annie and Graham. They have been married for over thirty years when Annie wakes up to a dead Graham. Graham is only in his mid-sixties, so it comes as a shock to Annie and all the characters in the story. Their marriage is the second marriage f I listened to Sue Miller narrate her own novel, “Monogamy”. It’s a “quiet” story about a marriage (surprise), and its quiet strength is in all the character’s thoughts. This is not an action-packed story. It’s a slow story revolving around the marriage of Annie and Graham. They have been married for over thirty years when Annie wakes up to a dead Graham. Graham is only in his mid-sixties, so it comes as a shock to Annie and all the characters in the story. Their marriage is the second marriage for both. Graham’s first marriage was an “open” marriage, in which his first wife found that she didn’t want to be in such a marriage. Frida and Graham had a son, so Graham kept in close contact with them. When Graham remarried Annie, remarkably the two women became friends. Graham and Annie had a daughter Sarah, and Sarah and the son basically grew up together. Both children are adults when Graham dies, and both come to Annie’s aid after the death, along with Frida. After the death of Graham, the reader learns of their relationships to each other. It’s an interesting character study of an extended family. When Annie learns of Graham having an affair, at Graham’s memorial service, this information adds depth to the characters and their reaction to this knowledge. It’s mostly about Annie though. It’s a story of Annie reflecting on her life with Graham. It’s Annie coming to terms with the affair. It’s Sue Miller’s prose that make this a thought-provoking read. It’s lush with poignant thoughts. I’m not sure this is a novel for everyone. It’s meditative and reflective. I enjoyed it because I’m Annie’s age and I could relate to much of it (not the dead husband thank god….nor the cheating husband…to my knowledge). However, if I found out my husband did have an affair, I can see myself wrestling with the same emotions that Annie did. I enjoyed Miller’s narration, as I felt she provided the emotional impact of her voice that helped with her intentions of the prose. I found it a provocative read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    lisa

    Occasionally I will run into someone I don't know very well, or even a total stranger, and for some reason they will begin to tell me some endless story about some small thing in their life that they seem to think is very significant, and very important. These endless stories are so unbelievably boring that I often have to cut these inane storytellers off with a quick, "Wow, I'm running late, but great story, byeee!!!!" Reading this book felt like being stuck in one of these excruciating convers Occasionally I will run into someone I don't know very well, or even a total stranger, and for some reason they will begin to tell me some endless story about some small thing in their life that they seem to think is very significant, and very important. These endless stories are so unbelievably boring that I often have to cut these inane storytellers off with a quick, "Wow, I'm running late, but great story, byeee!!!!" Reading this book felt like being stuck in one of these excruciating conversations. Annie and Graham are the most basic boomer couple you can imagine. Graham owns a bookstore in Boston (of course he does) and Annie shows her photographs at mid-range galleries in Boston (of course she does). They are a white, upper middle class couple with a fairly regular life. They have been married for so long that they love each other in a very inevitable way, the way people who have been together for many years do. Although they were both married previously before they met each other, they are steadfastly happy together. When Graham dies very suddenly, Annie is left to deal with her grief. Then just as she begins to get used to it, she learns that Graham has had affair that she knew nothing about. That is basically the entire book. As I said, it went on and one, and the characters were very caught up in the drama of something that seemed so stupid, especially in this dumpster fire of a year. Gee Annie, your husband who clearly loved you had a brief affair he was clearly very sorry for? Wow, Graham you're older, and you had a hard childhood. Seriously, the both of you, there is real suffering in this world. Your petty problems really aren't that interesting. There's a lot of nostalgia as the characters wistfully remember their younger years, and there's a lot of endless crying, and sighing, and white people complaining about not being enough, having enough, getting enough, etc. The sentences are well written. But I have to say if I ran into Annie at a party, I would make the quickest excuse I could think of and run away. I wouldn't be able to stand her whining.

  7. 4 out of 5

    QOH

    A novel which revolves around a penis obsessed middle-aged man, even if written by a woman with impeccable credentials, is still a novel which revolves around a penis obsessed middle-aged man. There is no spin that can make this fresh or new. Please. Just stop.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mary Lins

    With a title like, “Monogamy”, you know going in that it’s going to be, in part, about adultery. And it is. But most essentially it’s about marriage, grief, family, and our uniquely American culture regarding these things. This is the first new novel by Sue Miller in six years, and I sat down and devoured it as I have all her others; to further press the metaphor, as after a delicious and plentiful meal, in the end I felt happily satiated. “Monogamy” is the story of a particular marriage, that of With a title like, “Monogamy”, you know going in that it’s going to be, in part, about adultery. And it is. But most essentially it’s about marriage, grief, family, and our uniquely American culture regarding these things. This is the first new novel by Sue Miller in six years, and I sat down and devoured it as I have all her others; to further press the metaphor, as after a delicious and plentiful meal, in the end I felt happily satiated. “Monogamy” is the story of a particular marriage, that of Graham and Annie. Graham owns a bookstore in the Boston area, and Annie is a professional photographer. They have one daughter, and also make room in their lives for Graham’s first wife, and his son by her. Don’t expect to always like these characters, for Miller has skillfully written them as flawed yet relatable humans. That’s all I’ll say about the story because it’s all I would want to know going in. A few other impressions I had of the novel: one is that this novel will be particularly enjoyable for English Majors (I are one!) It is rich in literary references, allusions, and “hidden” quotes, for Literature fans to love, but not so many or so obscure as to bother anyone else. One of the other things I enjoyed about reading of Graham and Annie’s lives is that it was all SO FOREIGN to me. I’ve never lived on the east coast or in an urban area. I don’t have a social life that in any way resembles Graham and Annie’s (heck, I’m not even married much less in a long marriage) and I have no experiences with things like artist colonies or summer homes. Graham and Annie’s life together is familiar to me only through novels such as this one. Toward the end of the book there is a wonderful section where Annie meets someone that she knew more than thirty years previously. It’s beautifully written and humanizes Annie more than any other part of her life story, in part because she recognizes her own vanity through honest self-reflection, and because what happens at this reunion is something that could easily happen to any one of us “of a certain age”. I read “Monogamy” during the early summer of COVID-19, and I hope that by the time it comes out after Labor Day Sue Miller will be able to do the press tour that had been planned for it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    Sue Miller’s MONOGAMY is a slow burn rather than a bright flame. Focusing on married couple Annie and Graham (second marriage for both), the chapters alternate between characters and time periods. The plot is more like a through-line in the story than a sequence of events, but before the end of the novel, you’ll see that the grief process is the main “action.” Grief associated with death, yes, but also other kinds of grief. Miller’s strength in conveying the pain of loss was authentic, moving, a Sue Miller’s MONOGAMY is a slow burn rather than a bright flame. Focusing on married couple Annie and Graham (second marriage for both), the chapters alternate between characters and time periods. The plot is more like a through-line in the story than a sequence of events, but before the end of the novel, you’ll see that the grief process is the main “action.” Grief associated with death, yes, but also other kinds of grief. Miller’s strength in conveying the pain of loss was authentic, moving, and realistic. Graham is the lodestar of the story, the pivot point, but the other characters have their own inner lives, also. Annie and her daughter, Sarah, have a tendency to look at their emotional wounds from multiple angles, obsessively, and allow the anguish to eat at them. This is a nuanced character study, chiefly interior—reflective, thoughtful, complex, with a keen emotive quality that is both quiet and disquieting. Don’t look for passion, carnage, active adventure. The author instead deftly constructed a cerebral but also visceral narrative. I know that I provided a lot of descriptors, which may or may not be helpful for a potential reader curious about the premise and the dynamics of this book. This is the most stately, restrained, and measured of all of Sue Miller’s novels. The voice and tone of MONOGAMY reveal the private hells of people who share blood or bond but carry despair privately, often silently. Secrets intensify their loneliness, and the burdens they shoulder create deep, yawning wounds that hemorrhage when disturbed. Blended family issues raise tensions between them, and revelations bleed through with Miller’s artless subtlety. Graham, a partnered owner of a Boston bookstore, is the most gregarious and generous of the family, a big man with a big voice and big appetites. An oversized Teddy Bear, warm and devoted. Overwhelming at intervals, and periodically oblivious to the guilt and distress he places on others. Annie is pretty and reserved, not confrontational, reticent to share her most conflicted concerns. First wife Frieda remains in the picture and is Graham’s closest confidante; she still has residual and unresolved pain. They have a son together, Lucas, now a successful man. Annie and Graham have a daughter, Sarah, who as an awkward teen turned to Frieda for maternal support. Moreover, Frieda and Annie gradually form a bond, progressing to best friends, which pleases Graham. But this isn’t a soapy story; Miller keeps it seasoned and sophisticated. Graham’s garrulous nature seduces others to concede to his way of shaping life, his narrative. But you can still pick through the individual memories that sway to perception. It’s the kind of story that, despite the title, is not a beach read or skin teaser. It’s adult, mature, and requires the inward patience you reserve for a sober, contemplative tale. Some readers may conclude that there is too much unnecessary detail, which I initially thought when Miller expanded on what may seem extraneous detail. However, these small, even trivial matters verify our own quotidian lives. I closed the book satisfied and also relieved to return to my own concerns. Excellent but with minimal levity, not a relief from this pandemic, but it is bittersweet and ultimately redemptive. 4.5 rounded up Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC to read and review

  10. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    This is one of those books that is difficult to fairly rate, as there were some great and memorable parts, but at other times it was like a story that someone tells you and you know where it's going, but they just keep rambling on and on with every minor, trivial detail they could possibly throw in, and you wish they would just get to the point and be done with it. That's kind of how I felt about this book. You know from the title and the back cover blurb that is a story about marriage, adultery This is one of those books that is difficult to fairly rate, as there were some great and memorable parts, but at other times it was like a story that someone tells you and you know where it's going, but they just keep rambling on and on with every minor, trivial detail they could possibly throw in, and you wish they would just get to the point and be done with it. That's kind of how I felt about this book. You know from the title and the back cover blurb that is a story about marriage, adultery, family, and secrets - Annie is not the first love of Graham's life, but in her mind, she is his last and greatest love. The children are grown, and Annie and Graham both have a very odd, intriguing relationship with his first wife, Frieda. You quickly learn though, that Graham has recently faltered in his faithfulness; but he realizes he has made a mistake and means to put it right. Then the unthinkable happens and Graham dies (not a spoiler, as it is prominently highlighted in the blurb). Once Annie learns about Graham's unfaithfulness, she can't seem to find her way, questioning just how well did she knew the man who loved her and every other part of her life. I thought the book was great until Graham dies, and then the rest of the book focuses on the aftermath. It had much promise and could have been a great story, but for me it went downhill at that point, as it seemed to ramble on and became a bit tiresome. I think the book could be shortened by a hundred or so pages without losing a thing. I also realized about halfway through the book that most of the characters weren't all that interesting, or even really likable. Not a prerequisite for a fabulous read, but the characters still need to be somewhat engaging and these just weren't. There were some emotionally raw, poignant parts that spoke to me, and I would begin to think I was ready to start losing myself in the book; but then one of the characters would say or do something really off-putting, and I would be turned off once again. Overall, I admire Miller's lilting, almost-poetic, writing style and beautiful prose, and the cover is gorgeous! Unfortunately, I just couldn't wholeheartedly embrace the plot and the characters. Lots of others seemed to love this book, but for me, it was a middle-of-the-road, 3-star read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    We've seen this before. Well written, but nothing sparked for me except the gorgeous descriptions of meals in the past, the importance of food as a connective device, and the Nancy Meyers like interiors.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Pub dates keep changing on me which means I read this book early - it comes out September 8th from HarperCollins. This novel felt so much like it was written by James Salter - if you like stories of lifelong relationships with all the ups and downs, or the impact of one death on the lives branching off from those LTRs, this is a novel for you. It's set in Connecticut but still somehow people have live an upper middle class existence while owning a bookstore and practicing a non lucrative photogra Pub dates keep changing on me which means I read this book early - it comes out September 8th from HarperCollins. This novel felt so much like it was written by James Salter - if you like stories of lifelong relationships with all the ups and downs, or the impact of one death on the lives branching off from those LTRs, this is a novel for you. It's set in Connecticut but still somehow people have live an upper middle class existence while owning a bookstore and practicing a non lucrative photography career... A little suspension of disbelief, shall we say. But I enjoyed it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    BookOfCinz

    Started off promising but a bit of a let down in the end This book had a lot going for it, the title, the cover, the premise and the writing but it kinda fell flat overall. In Monogamy we meet long time married couple Graham and Annie who are both living and working in Vermont. Graham can be described as a teddy bear who co-owns and runs a Bookstore. Annie is a photographer who is in the midst of putting together a show that could land her back on the market. This is both Graham and Annie’s s Started off promising but a bit of a let down in the end This book had a lot going for it, the title, the cover, the premise and the writing but it kinda fell flat overall. In Monogamy we meet long time married couple Graham and Annie who are both living and working in Vermont. Graham can be described as a teddy bear who co-owns and runs a Bookstore. Annie is a photographer who is in the midst of putting together a show that could land her back on the market. This is both Graham and Annie’s second marriage, they have one child together- Sarah and Graham has a child from his previous marriage Lucas. They have been married for a long time and life is easy and comfortable, that is until one day Annie wakes up to find Graham dead. With the sudden death of Graham the family is scrambling to make sense of it all. There is a big hole where Graham use to be and everyone is not coping. It is at a wake for Graham that his wife Annie finds out he wasn’t faithful to her. She doesn’t know how to grief the man she thought he was and who he actually was. First let me know, this book is beautifully written, it is clear Sue Miller knows how to write. Second, this is a book about nothing really. This book could have been wrapped in 100 pages. Have you read a book where the entire book was the blurb? Lol. I kept waiting for something to happen but… yeah, if you read the blurb you read the book. Yeah…. That is my review. The end.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brody

    Sue Miller has always been one of my go-to writers. She hasn't written a book I didn't like. 'Monogamy' is no exception. The narrative and character development both shine. The story focuses on Annie and Graham, a couple married for over 30 years, a second marriage for both. Annie is a relatively introverted photographer and Graham is an exuberant and bigger than life personality, owner of a Cambridge, Massachusetts book store. He describes himself as "a loud fat man who spends more of his time Sue Miller has always been one of my go-to writers. She hasn't written a book I didn't like. 'Monogamy' is no exception. The narrative and character development both shine. The story focuses on Annie and Graham, a couple married for over 30 years, a second marriage for both. Annie is a relatively introverted photographer and Graham is an exuberant and bigger than life personality, owner of a Cambridge, Massachusetts book store. He describes himself as "a loud fat man who spends more of his time away from home, glad-handing everyone I see, than I should. I drink too much. I have to have everyone's love." And he does. Everyone seems to love Graham. The novel revels in family and the unique aspects of how to create family and intimacies. Graham and his first wife Frieda have a son, Lucas, and they have remained very close since their divorce. Frieda and Annie are also close. There were times when Lucas was a teenager that he spent more time with Annie than with his own mother. Graham and Annie have a daughter together, Sarah. Sarah and Annie have a conflicted relationship. Graham, however, is at the center of everyone's life. It is as if he serves as their north star. When Graham dies, about 100 pages into the novel, Annie free falls, especially once she becomes aware that Graham was having an affair. His infidelities were the major reason Frieda ended her marriage with him and Annie thought her relationship with Graham was different. What seemed very apparent and transparent to me was that Graham was narcissistic, a trait that Annie and his menage don't seem to mind or are in denial about. An example is when Annie is due to have a one person photography show, her first in five years, Graham forgets all about it. Most everything is about him and his enormous needs. His needs are like a bottomless pit and the more he gets, the more he wants. Graham and Annie hobnob with artists, writers, and the intellectually elite. Owning the bookstore helps but so do the grand dinner parties that Annie and Graham host. Once Graham dies and the family communes in Cambridge, their dynamics become more clarified. Annie has been described as cold by some but I found her guarded and self-protective rather than cold. It is difficult for her to reach out, even to those she loves. Sarah is very tentative about intimacy and resists sharing her budding relationship with her mother. Frieda, while loved and cherished by all, is not part of the nucleus as observed when she is not invited to scatter Graham's ashes. Lucas is about to become a father and he is juggling his wife's needs with Frieda's and Annie's. And then there is 'monogamy'. Frieda talks about her marriage with Graham and what the 1970's were like for them. If you have lived through the seventies, you will know about the prevalence of open marriages, the disparagement of jealous feelings and the opposition to monogamy. This was all too much for Frieda and Graham's relishing of lovers caused her to leave him. Annie, naive perhaps, believes that she is Graham's only one. She is shaken to the core when she realizes she is not and that he has strayed. She isn't even aware of how many times this has happened though he has confided in Frieda. It all makes for a fascinating family novel, one written by a fine observer of the mores and behaviors of a certain type of artistic and literary couple. What is celebrated in this novel, beyond the narrative and characters, is Graham's "honest embrace of pleasure. Pleasure was who Graham was. It was his gift." On the other hand, he needs this to coalesce with his other side, the "fat, sad, needy man" who "needs so much stuff from life." Ms. Miller paints a masterful portrait of this man and the surrendering of his wife to his needs.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anni

    The premise of this novel is one that I have always found intriguing in fiction - i.e. how well do we really know anyone else, even the ones we have lived with for years - and the effects of time on our memories after an untimely death. This is a painstakingly in-depth, almost forensic dissection of how a person's view of their relationship or marriage is altered via the prism of time. Fans of Anne Tyler's character-driven novels may also enjoy Sue Miller's similar style of domestic fiction.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    So I spent all day Sunday, lost in this book, I purchased it as I usually enjoy Sue Miller, & admittedly, the day I ordered it, she was on Weekend Edition. with Noah Adams & the interview was goode. I usually REALLY enjoy her books. I admit it I am a book consumer. And the interview lulled me in. Big Mistake! I begin the read & I am: "Okay, Graham takes up a LOT of the pages. His presence is just all over the place". Keep Reading Alice. I continued. Some of the characters do not seem fully developed So I spent all day Sunday, lost in this book, I purchased it as I usually enjoy Sue Miller, & admittedly, the day I ordered it, she was on Weekend Edition. with Noah Adams & the interview was goode. I usually REALLY enjoy her books. I admit it I am a book consumer. And the interview lulled me in. Big Mistake! I begin the read & I am: "Okay, Graham takes up a LOT of the pages. His presence is just all over the place". Keep Reading Alice. I continued. Some of the characters do not seem fully developed. Frieda the first wife, seems to be (well..kind of) & then she is just abandoned & returned to. As needed. (Her character ~I mean.) She stays with us all through the book & finally on page 292, she realizes what her place was in Graham's life. And it upsets her & then she is upset that all of the folks in her circle, her son, his wife, the new wife, the new daughter, do not allow her beingness, so to speak, she is just taken for granted, she realizes that no one really CARES what she is going through or what she needs & she gets angry. She is upset that NO ONE cares what SHE needs or is going through. It seems they never have. Lucas & Sarah~the grown children, in asides analyze the heck out of her. And then we are DONE with that. Annie discovers after Graham's impromptu memorial dinner, that Rosemary has been having an affair with her husband. She discovers Rosemary in his study weeping. She assumes Frieda knew he cheated & is enraged. Frieda knew he cheated but did NOT know about Rosemary & now Frieda is even more upset. Oh dear. This book. Okay. I FORCED myself to complete the read. I almost tossed it across the room, when on page 168, I read " In the late 1940's and 50's, Annie & Sofie Kahn had been in the same grammar-school class in a public school in Hyde Park." I literally screamed out loud " HOW OLD ARE THESE PEOPLE??" I did the math, & I went back & reviewed previous pages to make sure I did NOT miss a spot, where HOW OLD they are IS discussed. I kept thinking: "WAIT they cannot be this old!!" Only later in the pages do we learn, a lot of this takes place in the run up to the 2008 Presidential Election. That would have been pretty relevant for a reader, no? I mean that is like 12 years ago, could we not have had a movie reference or musical note, to date stamp this nonsense? Come On!!!!!!!! And so at that point....I was just mad at Sue Miller & at the book. I kept reading. Begrudgingly. Yes Graham is a cad. Yes Annie is just well a bit boring. Yes, he was the center of everyone's world. Good Grief. He died in his sleep. Okay got it. And so I completed the read. There was just too much of a lot of things that were supposed, to help us understand Annie, but I imagine at some point, she was supposed to actually grieve? We kept being TOLD that, Ms. Miller keeps pointing out Annie's angst at the whole "Graham is Gone", but we never get PAST that, it is like a road sign to a deserted street. Turn the car around Annie. So Ms. Miller has Annie FINALLY delve into "grief" on the last page and a half. What? This after a weird encounter, with a man she kissed 30 years before, who shows up to read at the bookstore, that she no longer owns, and the reading chairs are gone & she is upset & .........goode gawd........you see what I mean....this book is just a mess. Boy......If I could give "Monogamy" a negative star ~ well ~ I would. Ms. Miller...... I demand my reading TIME back, you literally John Cheever'd me & that is wrong! I cannot recommend this book. I just cannot.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Terris

    This seems just to be a quiet story of a woman reviewing her marriage and her life. It was not dramatic in any way, it felt kind of soft and smooth and slow -- very "Sue Miller," I think. I've read several of hers but not for quite awhile. I first thought "What is this book about?" but then I just kind of let it flow over me, and that felt better. In the end, it felt good. If you are a Sue Miller fan, you'll enjoy this one :) (Also, she read the audio book. Her voice was felt very calming.)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Latham

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really hated this book. the characters we're self-indulgent, pseudo-intellectuals who apparently didn't have a clue about parenting probably because they were so selfish about their own lives they had no idea that others were in the world. The ending made absolutely zero sense. She can't take photo's cause of a broken arm so NOW she's grieving??? What does that have to do with anything? And what about Frieda? her son is a selfish little prick (well look at his step-mother & father) who can't t I really hated this book. the characters we're self-indulgent, pseudo-intellectuals who apparently didn't have a clue about parenting probably because they were so selfish about their own lives they had no idea that others were in the world. The ending made absolutely zero sense. She can't take photo's cause of a broken arm so NOW she's grieving??? What does that have to do with anything? And what about Frieda? her son is a selfish little prick (well look at his step-mother & father) who can't think about how she may be feeling about her ex-husband who was still prominent in her life. All any one cared about was ANNIE ANNIE ANNIE. She could care less about any of them. Even her husband was an afterthought to how she was feeling or needing. I only finished it cause I though something has to happen. They all drive somewhere on a very rainy night and no one dies? Nothing at all happens....nothing!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily Carlin

    i simply don’t believe that none of the characters (“artsy,” upper middle class cantabrigians) would have a therapist. perhaps it because if anyone in this book did have a therapist, the plot would crumble.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kiki

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I had to think about this a lot before I wrote my review. If anyone wants to engage in a conversation, I'd be happy to talk about it! I picked this up after someone either told me, or I read, that it was an "indulgent" book for the author. I am not against Sue Miller; I don't dislike her. I really have little or no experience with her. I remember when her book The Good Mother came out, although I never read it. I remember when the movie, starring Diane Keaton came out, but I never watched it. I w I had to think about this a lot before I wrote my review. If anyone wants to engage in a conversation, I'd be happy to talk about it! I picked this up after someone either told me, or I read, that it was an "indulgent" book for the author. I am not against Sue Miller; I don't dislike her. I really have little or no experience with her. I remember when her book The Good Mother came out, although I never read it. I remember when the movie, starring Diane Keaton came out, but I never watched it. I was just not interested in reading a book on that subject matter or the movie. This book is interesting. The book's description describes the main trajectory of the novel: a happy, middle aged couple is interrupted by death. Graham, the husband, dies. Annie, his second devoted wife, is left dealing with both her memories and missing him, and her discovery that he was unfaithful to her. Annie is also close with his first wife, Frieda, who left him because she could not deal with infidelities,even though she agreed to an "open" marriage." She also has relationships with both her daughter with Graham, now an adult woman who works in public radio in California, as well as Frieda and Graham's child, Lucas, who is a book editor in NYC, and is happily married to a French actress. The plot is not so terrible. However, the execution, while I found did provide compelling reading, was often disturbing. Miller makes sure we know what everyone looks like: Annie is a tiny, attractive person; Graham is a large and jovial person--despite his size, he is still very appealing to women, sexually, and men, socially. He seems happy, but he reveals to Annie that he is maybe actually sad. He is popular. Frieda is like Olive Oil--large and gangly, ungraceful. The opposite of "graceful" Annie with her "dancer's body. Sarah, Graham and Annie's daughter, is also large and Annie thinks as ateenager, unattractive and overweight. She seems to have a hard time "liking" Sarah because of her "ungainly" appearance. This constant focus on the characters' appearances is somewhat distracting. I don't mind a descriptive moment or two, but the constant comparisons made me sad and tired. Larger women are described pejoratively, while Graham is a"ok" with his overweight body, and his "fat penis." Friends of the couple speculate about tiny Annie and large Graham's sex life (so freaking weird!). Much is made of Graham's size and matching "appetites" for everything in life. This grew tiresome, and was a ridiculously overused trope throughout the novel. I also did not understand the author's constant avoidance of any contemporary technology. Hardly anyone uses a smart phone, cell phone, or computer! When Graham dies, Annie goes to his office, but never opens a laptop or boots up a PC--and nothing like that happens at his bookstore either. Towards the end of the book, after Graham's death, Annie is momentarily reunited with a male author she met many years earlier (when she is married to Graham) at an artists' retreat (Annie is a photographer). Her stepson Lucas mentions him and then that she is coming to speak and sign his latest books at the bookstore formerly owned by Graham(prior to his death). She goes to the reading and reunites, very briefly. with this man. now 30 years older. He misremembers her as someone he actually had sex with, when really all they did was make out like teenagers. This absurd meeting (she knew nothing else of this author's life or books despite her husband owning a bookstore?) is followed up with Annie having a bad fall on ice outside her Cambridge home, and even after breaking bones, she drags herself to her home and up the stairs to the "landline." The marriage began in the 1980s, and this is 30 years later. No one refers to a "landline" before the widespread use of cell and smartphones. But Annie doesn't seem to have a cell phone--not even a flip phone--and only has a "landline" upstairs in her dead husband's office. How does she communicate with her far flung family? Make plans? She never mentions emails or social media. Never opens the dead man's phone to check his messages, voice, or text. This annoyed me, this very pointed ignorance of technology. Her daughter makes a private phone call to her California boyfriend after a Thanksgiving gathering a year or two following her father's death. SHe goes to her room and takes her phone out of her purse. It's utterly ridiculous to try this hard to ignore correspondence/communication of any kind. There aren't letters either! Annie is a photographer--an artist--aho admittedly does not have a super successful career.Much like Ms Miller, she indulges herself. She photographs what she wants, as Miller writes what she wants, oblivious to what people want. I understand that, but how does this "family" afford a home in Cambridge,Mass.--even a renovated carriage house? Taxes are high, and Graham is a small business owner of a locally owned bookstore. No mention (again) os social media or online ordering, etc. Bookstore is the the 20000s were not exactly known as million dollar businesses. And with Annie's semi-successful, amateurish photography career--she self publishes some books of her photos, or they are published by a small press who is also a friend of Graham's--I hardly believe she could suddenly survive when her husband dies. However, he had a small life insurance policy, and low and and behold, she has cared for her elderly, demented neighbor with relatives who want nothing to do with her, and now that the neighbor has died, she has taken in the neighbor's old cat, she has benefitted from a generous bequeathal to care for said old cat. SHe is set, to the relief and amazement of her family and her readers. Silly. Anyway, my problems with this book are that I was so distracted by the things the author has chosen to ignore, or wrongly focus on, I ended up not liking any of the characters. I felt they were one dimensional: paper dolls placed there bend and to reflect Annie's feelings. I could never buy into the close friendship she has with her husband's ex-wife, or her son. It was all too weird and progressive, yet they were the most unrealistic and least progressive people I had ever read about. She never looked up the books written by the man she had a passionate pseudo-affair with, even though her husband owned a bookstore? Never looked up anyone's profile on Facebook or Twitter? If the world she lived in and the people who were around her were more REAL to me, I may have believed she was someone who shunned all traces of contemporary modernity, but mostly, it just struck me as unrealistic and annoying. I didn't like Annie's self importance, and confidence, and even after she finds out about a secret but brief affair her husband had right before his death, she continues to behave so strangely. Doesn't ask the woman any questions, and there is no follow up there. Her relationship with her daughter is unrealistic and very strained--her child seems unimportant to her. I don't need big things to happen in books, but I do prefer a realistic book, that I can imagine it happening. I didn't see the attraction to "fat" Graham, screwing every woman he meets. I was repulsed by her focus on physical appearance, and her superiority to EVERYONE. When her daughter finds the books of photographs featuring her heavyset husband and his bookstore and all the torn pages, that her mother has destroyed apparently in a fit of rage or sadness, but doesn't confront her, I was annoyed. It was annoying. This book annoyed me. It could have been so much better. But Sue wanted to please herself.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    This book may have a limited audience, or perhaps I should say that the focus may strike some readers as narrowly directed. Intensely character-driven, the narrative unwinds the complex dance that is marriage, particularly the experiences of women who feel that they are not free to fully express themselves. That simmering sublimation tends to settle into a subterranean rage, which can easily blur the outside world, forcing a neutral expression as a kind of defensive mechanism. The author examines This book may have a limited audience, or perhaps I should say that the focus may strike some readers as narrowly directed. Intensely character-driven, the narrative unwinds the complex dance that is marriage, particularly the experiences of women who feel that they are not free to fully express themselves. That simmering sublimation tends to settle into a subterranean rage, which can easily blur the outside world, forcing a neutral expression as a kind of defensive mechanism. The author examines relationships at every age, and induces the reader to create their own prism for viewing love, loss, loyalty, betrayal, connections, absences, presences, all the places inhabited by each of us, at different times. In an effort to construct a metaphor to encompass her process, I at first thought of myself as walking a non-linear path which led to various doors. Once I went through a door, there was no going back. But, that seemed too simple. Then, I thought of a kaleidoscope, and I think that analogy comes closer to what the author is showing us. We are fractals, and we begin and eventually return to, the center. Through various experiences, we dramatically rise, fall, or plod along laterally, overlaying or being obscured by other fractals along the way. Each turn may have any number of variable outcomes, and even identical experiences are never the same twice. It's much like memory: we don't remember the first instance of anything. We remember our first time remembering. Miller's insightful writing is as intelligent as it is analytical, but in a way which sneaks up on the reader, and is especially incisive in the last third of the book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    debra

    I think I "disenjoyed" the book I read before this so much that my enjoyment of this novel was enhanced.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alecia

    3.5 stars. rounded up. This was not a 4 star read for me because even though it was a well-intentioned look at grief and betrayal, I found it lagged in places. I don't mind a slow-moving book, sometimes I love it, but in that case prose has got to draw me in and make the slowness worth my while. In this case, I found it a bit predictable and it just didn't reach me in that way. Annie and Graham are long-married, both on their second marriages. They have two adult children and are in a seemingly 3.5 stars. rounded up. This was not a 4 star read for me because even though it was a well-intentioned look at grief and betrayal, I found it lagged in places. I don't mind a slow-moving book, sometimes I love it, but in that case prose has got to draw me in and make the slowness worth my while. In this case, I found it a bit predictable and it just didn't reach me in that way. Annie and Graham are long-married, both on their second marriages. They have two adult children and are in a seemingly happy long relationship when Graham dies suddenly. Having been a participant in a similar situation, I can say that part was written very well, along with the descriptions of trying to move on while wracked with grief. But the totality of the book, while well-written in places, just seemed to drag on for me a bit too much.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Saswati Saha Mitra

    Monogamy by Sue Miller is one of those books you have high expectations from due to its theme, title and a gorgeous cover. At the core of the story is Graham, a genial bookstore owner, whose joie-de-vivre manifests itself in his love for food, friends, books and women. He is twice married and continues to have relationships outside of his marriage which he then also openly discusses with his first wife, Frieda. While the premise of the book has so much potential, where it started to fall flat for Monogamy by Sue Miller is one of those books you have high expectations from due to its theme, title and a gorgeous cover. At the core of the story is Graham, a genial bookstore owner, whose joie-de-vivre manifests itself in his love for food, friends, books and women. He is twice married and continues to have relationships outside of his marriage which he then also openly discusses with his first wife, Frieda. While the premise of the book has so much potential, where it started to fall flat for me is, how none of the female characters, felt well etched out. Graham’s personality towers over Annie and Frieda’s lives and without him, they seem to fade into the background. Annie’s righteous anger with Graham over his indiscretions, is also put to rest rather too quickly, after we learn about her own experience outside her marriage. There’s some pacing and depth issues in this story. I struggled with the total lack of an authorial voice or character led perspective on what these characters journeys mean for the nature of relationships. As a result, the book ended up being a timid attempt at a powerful theme for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    I have read all of Sue Miller's novels, The Good Mother being my most favorite of her collection. Monogamy is a very close second. A thoughtful and realistic account of contemporary family life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathy McC

    Stayed up late reading because I had to see how this one ended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Claudia Piepenburg

    Where do I start? Having never read anything by Ms. Miller but hearing good things about her writing, and hey! that nice review in the NYT, I figured that I'd shell out the twenty bucks or so and see what her "...important and compelling writing" is all about. It wasn't easy for me to slog through this mess. Since when does a baby's cry sound like an old door opening and closing, you know...all creaky...like a door? Most of her similes and metaphors were as bad as that one. Then there was the abun Where do I start? Having never read anything by Ms. Miller but hearing good things about her writing, and hey! that nice review in the NYT, I figured that I'd shell out the twenty bucks or so and see what her "...important and compelling writing" is all about. It wasn't easy for me to slog through this mess. Since when does a baby's cry sound like an old door opening and closing, you know...all creaky...like a door? Most of her similes and metaphors were as bad as that one. Then there was the abundant use of adverbs, so abundant that I thought perhaps I should start counting them, that's how much they distracted me. So when someone enters a room she not only enters it suddenly but also quickly? Wow...must have taken a very long time to come up with those two words ending in ly. But the very worst bit of writing for me at least was on page 126 when Miller wrote: "Graham. Her breath seemed to stop." And then just three sentences later: "Her breath seemed to stop." First of all, either your breath stops or it doesn't. You're either not breathing for a few seconds or you are. There isn't any "seeming" about it. Just awful writing, really. And second, the fact that no one caught it, that Miller got away with writing two such awkward sentences in close proximity says to me that once you've written a few NYT best-sellers, after a certain point in time, no one bothers to edit anything you write. The writing overall was sloppy and insipid and by now you'd think that Miller would know that it is true that readers prefer to be "shown" rather than "told". There was a whole lotta telling going on in this novel, very little showing. The only thing that makes me feel good about all of this is that...and get ready for it, I'm going to plug my own book now...my debut novel was released in mid-August, and it's far superior to Miller's. If anyone on Goodreads would like to read it, it's on Amazon and the publisher's website: adelaidebooks.org. It's titled "Letting Go."

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    Graham and Annie have been married for almost thirty years and they appear to be the perfect couple. They lead a comfortable life in Cambridge: outgoing Graham owns a small bookstore and loves to host parties in their home while Annie, who’s more reserved, is a photographer who is looking forward to having her first gallery show after a six-year drought. They stay in close contact with Graham’s first wife, Frieda, who has actually become good friends with Annie. Annie is certain that she’s Graha Graham and Annie have been married for almost thirty years and they appear to be the perfect couple. They lead a comfortable life in Cambridge: outgoing Graham owns a small bookstore and loves to host parties in their home while Annie, who’s more reserved, is a photographer who is looking forward to having her first gallery show after a six-year drought. They stay in close contact with Graham’s first wife, Frieda, who has actually become good friends with Annie. Annie is certain that she’s Graham’s last and greatest love. But is she really? When Graham passes away suddenly (not a spoiler), Annie goes through an intense mourning period and then to make matters worse, she discovers a secret that makes her question how much she really knew Graham. Miller has given me pretty much what I expect when I read one of her novels. We get an in-depth look at the ups and downs of a 30-year marriage and the characters within it, all told at a slow, steady pace that draws the reader into their lives. I thought there seemed to be a bit of an excessive obsession with Graham’s penis (how many adjectives can she possibly ascribe to it?), but then again, that’s what got him in trouble so maybe it’s understandable. I also felt like there was a bit of a disconnect between their lifestyle and the amount of money (or lack of) that they appeared to have. Quite frankly, if they’d cut back on all the wine drinking and high-end food purchases, they would have had a ton of money in the bank! Nothing earth-shaking, but a quiet meander down Graham and Annie’s path and a look at what it means to be monogamous. Mostly, though, it’s a look grief, trust, and an examination of relationships between husbands and wives, ex-spouses and their grown children.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    I read Monogamy by Sue Miller in staves with other Pigeonholers as part of a group. Annie and Graham have been married for over 30 years, and it's the second time around for them both. Annie is a photographer and a bit of an introvert, whilst Graham, the owner of a Massachusetts bookshop, has a more exuberant personality, and everyone loves larger than life Graham. Annie and Graham have daughter, Sarah together, and Graham and his first wife, Frieda have a son, Lucas. When Graham suddenly dies, t I read Monogamy by Sue Miller in staves with other Pigeonholers as part of a group. Annie and Graham have been married for over 30 years, and it's the second time around for them both. Annie is a photographer and a bit of an introvert, whilst Graham, the owner of a Massachusetts bookshop, has a more exuberant personality, and everyone loves larger than life Graham. Annie and Graham have daughter, Sarah together, and Graham and his first wife, Frieda have a son, Lucas. When Graham suddenly dies, the man whose enormous presence has apparently dominated all of their lives, Annie is left bereft and lost. With chapters that alternated between characters and time periods, I found Monogamy to be a fascinating and enthralling story. Sue Miller's portrayal of Annie's grief stemming from Graham's death was authentic and moving. The novel was largely a fine-drawn, quality character study, that was reflective, complex, highly emotive and rather disquieting. This was my first book by Sue Miller and I have been inspired to check out some of her other work, starting with The Senator's Wife. A special thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing, Sue Miller, NetGalley and Pigeonhole for a complimentary copy of this novel at my request. This review is my unbiased opinion.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Judith von Kirchbach

    MONOGAMY is a book, that reads like watching a play. Vivid characters with whom you will become intimate. Some adhering to their vows, some not, some disagreements spoken aloud, some suspicions mere whispers. I grieved for the characters, for the time they might have had for a do-over. Infidelity lead to broken trust and parents who showed their weaknesses to their children. MONOGAMY is a literary gift about marriage, family, and the legacy of the departed.

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