Monday, June 8, 2009

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

Mom was reading this while she was here in May and I got the impression that she was not entirely happy with it. She left it for me to read, and all she would say was that it was weird. Hmmm.

I am not familiar with Sue Miller's other books, but I have to agree with Mom. This book is weird. More precisely, the ending is weird, and a let-down.

The story follows Delia, the wife of a senator, who has built up an indepedent life of her own after separating from her husband because of his inability to be faithful to her. They remain married and see each other intermittently, but in order to endure his philandering, she found she had to create distance from him, and although this is not how she would have wanted her life, she can live with things as they are.

A young couple moves into the house next door and Delia becomes friends with the wife, Meri. Meri has issues of her own, having to do with being a young wife, and how to reconcile herself with her new roles as wife, soon-to-be mother and someone who loves her job as a radio producer. I could certainly relate to both of the characters and some of the challenges they faced, being somewhat in the middle of the two by age and shall we say, "profession"? Sue Miller writes knowingly about marriage, intimacy and the particular difficulty women face to maintain a professional alter ego in spite of being most strongly identified with home and hearth, and raising children.

Towards the end of the book, through tragedy, Delia suddenly finds herself in the role of caring for her husband - after all those years of having absolutely no say in his comings and goings, he is suddenly completely under her thumb. She is in a strange way happy with this new situation, in spite of the limits it places on her own freedom - he has finally come home to her and she feels secure at last that he will finally be 100% faithful.

Until, of course, the final creepy twist in the story, up until which I was really enjoying the book and the characters. I found what Meri does at the end of the book to be incomprehensible, and although it might fit with the insecurity she feels, it just did not feel right to me. So, yes, I agree with Mom, it is a weird book.


dyanna said...

I like your blog.I'm waiting for your new posts.

Kristin said...

I've read a number of books by Sue Miller, and liked them, but haven't read this one. Another "political" novel you might enjoy (I was entranced by it) is American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Amy said...

Kristin, thanks for the tip, I will see if they have it in my library!