The Age of Grief
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The luminous novella and stories in The Age of Grief explore the vicissitudes of love, friendship, and marriage with all the compassion and insight that have come to be expected from Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize—winning author of A Thousand Acres.
In “The Pleasure of Her Company,” a lonely, single woman befriends the married couple next door, hoping to learn the secret of their happiness. In “Long Distance,” a man finds himself relieved of the obligation to continue an affair that is no longer compelling to him, only to be waylaid by the guilt he feels at his easy escape. And in the incandescently wise and moving title novella, a dentist, aware that his wife has fallen in love with someone else, must comfort her when she is spurned, while maintaining the secret of his own complicated sorrow. Beautifully written, with a wry intelligence and a lively comic touch, The Age of Grief captures moments of great intimacy with grace, clarity, and indelible emotional power.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
An astoundingly good collection
The characters in this collection are painted without physical flaws, but their internal damage is profound and believable. Much of the time, they can't look each other in the eye. They can't express their desires.
The stories build toward the title novella, an unflinching, comprehensive, heartbreaking dissection of a marriage at the crossroads. It's brilliance is the poetry through which the story is told. We come to feel with the narrator the love that he feels, and we feel his pain as well. Smiley knows when to pull back and when to take us deeper.
By the end, we have lived his story; it becomes our story as well, and that is the mark of great writing at its best.