It is sometime since I read The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life by William Nicholson but I do remember enjoying it, and his other books, very much. Adventures in Modern Marriage features some of the same characters from the author’s other books. They aren’t quite sequels but the same characters may appear in different books perhaps with less of a focus on them. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read any of them before, all the books are easily enjoyed as stand alone novels.
Adventures in Modern Marriage focuses on three couples: Harry and Laura, Allan and Liz and Annie and Mitch. All are at the stage in their marriages when they have been together a long time, their children are growing up and leaving home and elderly parents may be in need of care – the sandwich generation if you like. The book is an intense exploration of what each marriage is like and the challenges and trials the couples face.
I found this to be a quietly compelling novel which had me immersed in the characters’ lives as I read. I felt fury along with Henry when his tv project didn’t go to plan. I empathised with Liz sitting with her dying mother wishing it was all over, but feeling guilty at the same time. I was angry with Alan as he put his marriage at risk when he met a former lover and wondered what if? I was also cheering Liz on as she worked on her magazine article showing that yes, women are just as interested in the physical side of a relationship as men and that being of a certain age doesn’t mean their desires fade. I really wanted to know more about Carrie, Henry and Laura’s daughter, and find out why she was so unhappy, so I hope she might be the focus of a future book.
In examining the everyday happenings of each character’s life in fine detail, William Nicholson takes his reader right into their minds. I enjoyed reading about characters of a similar age to myself and although not having the same predicaments, I could identify with their situations being a wife, mother and daughter myself. The book is a thoughtful look at these marriages after many years, with their regrets and temptations but also delights. With William Nicholson’s characteristically beautiful writing, this is a well observed reflective look just what a modern marriage is.
My thanks to the publishers Quercus for my copy of this book via Netgalley. Adventures in Modern Marriage will be published on 26th January as an e-book and in hardback with the paperback to follow in September. You can order a copy online here: Adventures in Modern Marriage
From the back of the book
With pace, wit and a beady eye, Adventures in Modern Marriage revisits the characters from Nicholson’s highly acclaimed The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life. But now the children are grown up, and the adults are older, though not always wiser. Here is a big-hearted novel about life and love in the bestselling vein of Colm Toibin and Nick Hornby.
Focusing on Henry and Laura Broad and their daughter Carrie, this is a minute – but in true Nicholson style, extraordinarily empathetic – dissection of relationships and what keeps them going. It is an acute and compassionate look at male mid-life crises, female sexual desire, death and the fear of it, children and the trouble with them – all the things we battle with every day.