The Story of a Marriage, By Andrew Sean Greer

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Andrew Sean Greer's writing has an ease and a delicacy that belies the tormented emotional lives of his protagonists in this story about race and homosexuality set in 1950s San Francisco.

Pearlie has married her childhood sweetheart, Holland, and has given him a much-loved son. They live quietly in a newly created suburb, working hard and rarely talking: a quietness, Pearlie wants to believe, that comes from contentment, not estrangement. But then a stranger arrives at their door, as strangers often do in suburbia, to disturb their calm: Buzz, a friend of Holland's who was with him in the war. As Greer expertly unravels the history of both men's wartime experiences, we see Pearlie forced to deal with truths she's unconsciously been avoiding for years.

While particular strands of this story could only have been set before the 1960s, Greer's underlying point could be made any time: about the complacency in which human beings indulge, and the comforting belief that they know all there is to know about the person they love.