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The Odds: A Love Story

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  2,840 Ratings  ·  595 Reviews
In the new novel from the author of "Last Night at the Lobster," a middle-age couple goes all in for love at a Niagara Falls casino
Stewart O'Nan's thirteenth novel is another wildly original, bittersweet gem like his celebrated "Last Night at the Lobster." Valentine's weekend, Art and Marion Fowler flee their Cleveland suburb for Niagara Falls, desperate to recoup their l
ebook, 192 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Viking Books
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Mary Lou
Jul 18, 2012 Mary Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The Odds A Love Storyis the first of Stewart O’Nan’s thirteen novels that I have read and I could almost dismiss it, but . . .. My thoughts after the last page were questions about whether or not I had read something worthwhile, even profound.

The story is simple to summarize: after 30 years of marriage and two affairs, one acknowledged and one kept secret and looming bankruptcy due to lost jobs and overextending on a house and a kitchen remodel, Art and Marion wager all they have left on Valent
Jan 23, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Stewart O’Nan is “the man” with his wildly imaginative, poignantly rendered portrayals and he never fails to astound me. In Emily, Alone, he took an ordinary old woman – the kind of person you pass by without a glance nearly every day – and revealed the extraordinary life that lies right beneath the surface. Now again, he lasers in on an ordinary couple, heavily in debt – Art and Marion Fowler – who retreat to Niagara Fall as a last-ditch effort to sav
Apr 08, 2012 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I need to first say this: I love Stweart O'Nan. I love him as a 'magnify the details of life and make them wonderful' writer, the classic 'nothing happens but it's well written so who cares' guy. I also had the opportunity to meet him and I think he is the most fantastic person ever. And I thought Wish You Were Here was just great, and The Good Wife changed my whole way of thinking, and the one with the Red Lobster was probably the most understated, poignant read in life.
But this latest one seem
May 15, 2012 Mmars rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My first O'Nan. Unfortunately, I had a lot of difficulties with this book.

On the positive and was drawn to the theme. Also enjoyed the chapter headings.

Even though I dislike writing negative reviews, even more annoying are negative ratings without justification. So, here goes.

Mundane details. "Her phone rang, a quick trill to let her know she had a Facebook message. Usually it was nothing pressing. Distant friends posting something amusing on her wall, a forwarded YouTube video or a link to a s
David Abrams
Apr 08, 2012 David Abrams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to putting American culture under a microscope, few novelists succeed as well as Stewart O’Nan. Time after time, novel after novel, O’Nan has focused tightly on particular microbes of our society—people like you and me, to be blunt about it—and examined the foibles, the follies, and the flaws of the Way We Live. In Songs for the Missing, he turned his attention to the grief of a family whose teenage daughter goes missing; in Last Night at the Lobster, it was the disappointment of t ...more
Jan 30, 2012 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

As much as I crave the chubby novels with 58 main characters, 130 subplots and a heft that guarantees the reader Popeye sized forearms by page 500 I do find the quiet, small, I’m-not-sure-anything-ever-happens-until-suddenly-it-has-happened novels very impressive. Stewart O’Nan is a master of such novels. He leads the reader through the lives of the people they live next door too with the dexterity of a spellbinder.

The Odds is O’Nan’s new novel. It tells the story of Art and Marion Fowler’s mar
May 03, 2012 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The Odds by Stewart O’Nan

If you are looking for a fast-paced, full of excitement, lots of action book, this is not the one for you. If you are looking for a story about a marriage that is ordinary and dying this is it.

Sound like a boring read? Well, it is not boring. It is a funny and sad, simple and complex, honest and like real life, love story.

Marion and Art have been married for 30 years. Thirty years of working, loving, raising a family, and now falling apart. They have lost jobs, are going
Mari Anne
Stewart O'Nan seems to be one of those uniquely talented writers that never has a blockbuster. I have read several of his books and I think I might know why. He is undeniably a very talented writer and I always enjoy his books... to a point. Every book of his that I have read has always been missing something. Sometimes it's better character development, sometimes a better plot. His novels always JUST seem to miss the mark. In this novel I was really enjoying the story and was really thinking th ...more
Oct 28, 2011 Crystal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 25, 2012 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE ODDS: A Love Story. (2012). Stewart O’Nan. *****.
This short novel from Mr. O’Nan really manages to hit home. It seems to come right off the front page of our current newspapers. Marion and Art have been married for almost thirty years. They decide to travel from their home in Cleveland to Niagara Falls to celebrate Valentine’s day. Art has recently lost his job and Marion has had her hours cut back severely. Their home is about to be foreclosed upon, and their marriage is on the rocks. They
Nov 16, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stewart O’Nan’s novel, The Odds -- A Love Story, has many strengths and a few weaknesses, though perhaps the weaknesses are more important than the strengths.

This is a book about a couple whose children are out of the house, who have lost everything in the financial meltdown, and who have decided that they will go to Canadian casinos bordering Niagara Falls to try to win enough money to ease their forthcoming bankruptcy proceedings and inevitable divorce.

The desperate improbability of this scena
The Short of It:

A brutally honest look at a marriage in crisis.

The Rest of It:

In all my years as a reader, I’ve never read an O’Nan novel. Boy, have I been missing out.

Art and Marion Fowler ditch their soon-to-be foreclosed home for Niagara Falls, hoping to recoup enough money to save their home and their marriage. The odds are against them, in more ways than one but as they rent the “bridal” suite for one last Valentine’s hurrah, one remains hopeful where the other has totally and utterly given
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Unabashedly, I'm declaring the Stewart O'Nan fan club is back in session.

In The Odds Stewart O'Nan explores a marriage in crisis. Art and Marion Fowler have lost their jobs, are heading for bankruptcy, about to lose their home, and are on the brink of divorce. In a last ditch effort to salvage something, Art and Marion withdrawal all their remaining savings and book a bridal suite at a Niagara Falls casino. They are telling others it is a second honeymoon. They actually plan to gamble their mone
Nov 09, 2012 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first O'Nan book I have read. I saw that his novels receive consistently good reviews, and a short novel works great w/ my business travel.

He seems to be somewhere in between High Literature and Popular Reading, and the setting and plot are very "contemporary". In that, he reminds me a bit of John Updike - the contemporary, the details, the use of items from that particular time.... OK, I loved the Heart concert! O'Nan really did nail a 50+ couple going to see a band from their you
Jan 21, 2012 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
No other author packs so much into so few words. O’Nan’s
stories are always sparse, but taut, filled with
undercurrents of thought and feelings.
What on the surface seems a simple story, a marriage on the
skids, with dissolution looming, is so much more. In a last
ditch attempt to spin the wheel, role the dice and possibly
beat the odds, Art and Marion Fowler liquidate their assets,
book a room at a plush casino in the most romantic place on
earth, Niagara Falls, and hold their breath. Here, they’d
go fo
May 25, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a book by Stewart O'Nan, though I have heard good things about him. His latest novel, The Odds: A Love Story, tells the story of Marion and Art, a middle-aged married couple on their way to Niagara Falls.
They are in severe financial trouble, about to lose their home to foreclosure and have a plan to hit a casino, with Art's sure-fire system to win enough money to save them.

As the story quietly unfolds, we find that Art and Marion are planning on separating, but I wasn't clear if
switterbug (Betsey)
I accidentally deleted my review so here it is again, but I tweaked it because the first draft needed work.

In this bittersweet, spare novella, a Cleveland couple returns to the scene of their honeymoon in Niagara Falls to gamble on their declining thirty-year marriage and bet on their collapsing net worth. Victims of the economic recession, Art and Marion Fowler are unemployed professionals with a quarter-million-dollar debt and a three-decade balance sheet of reproaches, recriminations, and reg
Sep 02, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stewart O’Nan is a master at looking at the ordinary, everyday and everyman and presenting readers with a story that is both beautifully executed and insightful. O’Nan’s latest, The Odds: A Love Story certain doesn’t disappoint. Covering Valentine’s Day weekend in 2006, The Odds tells the story of Art and Marion Fowler, a middle aged couple facing not only bankruptcy, but also the end of their marriage. In an act of desperation the Fowlers liquidate their finances and head to a casino in Niagara ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Betz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really shocked to see that people gave this book a 5 star rating. I hope to even the playing field with my one star rating. I think O'Nan wrote this book over a weekend--or maybe just on a Friday night. One reviewer said she almost dismissed the book but then thought O'Nan's other works were so good, that perhaps she was at fault and was missing something more profound. Nothing profound here! I felt the entire time I was reading the book that I had read this book before--a typical "we are ...more
Nov 10, 2014 Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Odds of my giving Stewart O'Nan a good review--1 in 2.

Beginning each chapter, O'Nan lists a statistic. I don't understand how the odds of a proposal being accepted is 1 in 1.01. Does that mean sometimes the one being proposed to says "yes" without being asked?

This is a short book. When I picked it up from the holds shelf at the library I was tempted to read it while ripping some CDs and save a return trip. I'm glad I took it home because I really studied the gambling technique Art uses and it
T.E. Grau
Jun 02, 2016 T.E. Grau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlikable characters who don't like each other take a big gamble after failing a half dozen different ways in life.

The writing contained that bittersweet truth that marks O'Nan's fiction, and the dialogue between Art and Marion Fowler was humorous and real and remarkably sad, trailing this exhausted middle aged couple as they trundled through a Niagara Falls getaway on Valentine's Day.

A lightly grim exploration of selfishness, dreams unrealized, and the slow grind of age with too much regret be
Diane S ☔
Jan 06, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O'Nan has a singular knack of making the commonplace and mundane of vast interest and importance. Loved the odds statistics he gave at the start of each chapter. The hidden meanings he derives from everyday events, especially those that occur within a long marriage where each character has his or her own secrets, longings and expectations. Another very good read from this author.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
In discussing this author I realized I read this without reviewing it earlier this year. It was so quick of a read that I forgot! This is the story of a marriage, and the couple travels to Niagara Falls beyond their means to try to salvage it. Pretty realistic.
Tammy Dotts
Feb 06, 2012 Tammy Dotts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Any introduction to writing or literature class will include the theory that most (if not all) books follow a pattern of escalating peaks that reach a climax before drifting off into a denouement. In a line graph, the crux of the book, regardless of the genre, would stand above everything else. The pattern of plot denotes a clear beginning, middle and end.

But what if a book chooses to disregard this tried-and-true formula? What if the book chops off the traditional beginning and end? What if the
Carol Moore
The Odds ** …Steward O’Nan
After 30 years of marriage, Art and Marion face financial ruin. They’ve lost their jobs and have enormous debts due to overextending on a house. They have no savings left. Their marriage is also troubled. Art convinces Marion to go to Niagra Falls for a long weekend. His plan is to rekindle their relationship and win big at the casino. Their relationship has a definite, persistent dynamic. Art knocks himself out to please Marion. She blames him for any and all problems
Larry Hoffer
Niagara Falls is the often-clichéd spot where couples begin and celebrate their lives together, as a large number of marriage proposals and weddings happen there each year despite all of the tourist trappings. Stewart O'Nan's new novel, The Odds looks at the other side of the coin—a couple staring down the end of their lives together.

Art and Marion Fowler have been married for nearly 30 not-entirely-happy years. With their marriage on the brink of collapse and their finances in ruin, they flee
Daniel Powell
Feb 20, 2012 Daniel Powell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stewart O'Nan's The Odds is, appropriately, subtitled "A Love Story." It's not of the Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steele school of love stories, which is probably why I found it such an interesting story.

There's a great line in Joan Didion's essay "On Going Home." Didion writes that "Marriage is the ultimate betrayal." Within the context of her essay, she's talking about how marriage changes the familial dynamic, how her people call her husband "Joan's husband" in his presence because he hasn't
Feb 26, 2012 Caren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Mr. O'Nan has captured the tenor of our times in this slim novel of a middle-aged couple whose financial situation and marriage are coming apart at the seams. As a last ditch effort to salvage some of their lives, they take an anniversary trip to the Canadian Niagara Falls with what remains of their life savings, in order to gamble on doubling their money and, just perhaps, patching up their relationship. Each chapter begins with statistical odds of a certain event coming to pass (example: "Chap ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stewart O'Nan is a master of the intimate novel. I thought this was a rather modest effort (that's not necessarily a criticism), but reviewers, according to BOOKMARKS MAGAZINE, made it a consensus 4-star pick (the magazine's highest rating). Two of my favorite comments: From a reviewer for the Washington Post: "I read The Odds over my 27th anniversary, and I defy any long-married husband to make it through these pages without feeling the bracing wind of exposure. ... A few hours with this witty, ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Nov 27, 2011 Jessica Woodbury rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2011, kindle, arc
I had just read a thriller and I felt like reading something I could whiz through.

I was lucky to start this because it reminded me of something really important: good writing is just as fun to read as any fast-paced thriller. It sucks you in and makes you fly through it and feel and care and just enjoy your time with it.

I already knew I loved Stewart O'Nan. I've read LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER and SONGS FOR THE MISSING and I know his writing is often sad but his characters are real and vivid.

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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri ...more
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“You couldn't relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole--like the world, or the person you loved.” 3164 likes
“The happiest she'd ever been was with him, and the saddest. Was that the true test of love?” 21 likes
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