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The Story of a Marriage: A Novel

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  3,475 Ratings  ·  777 Reviews
A Today Show Summer Reads Pick

A Washington Post Book of the Year

"We think we know the ones we love." So Pearlie Cook begins her indirect, and devastating exploration of the mystery at the heart of every relationship--how we can ever truly know another person.

It is 1953 and Pearlie, a dutiful young housewife, finds herself living in the Sunset District in San Francisco,
ebook, 208 pages
Published April 29th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2008)
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May 27, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this novel after finishing Greer's "The Confessions of Max Tivoli," knowing nothing about the storyline. Having been utterly ignorant of the various plot twists, I was able to enjoy "Marriage" to the fullest. Yes, it's lyrical and poetic, as Greer is one of the most naturally gifted writers I've come across in years, but many literary novels get lost in this emphasis on stylistic narrative and character development, failing to realize that most readers come to fiction to simply be enterta ...more
Aug 07, 2008 Edan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Taking this to Kauai...

...So I took this on my trip because the plot intrigued me, and because I've been curious about Andrew Sean Greer's work for a long time, and, well, because its shortness pleased me. Weight is always a factor when choosing beach reading, isn't it?

Some of the prose here is lovely, although most of the time it strains to be lovely, making it less so. Greer likes to repeat phrases throughout the novel, such as, "We think we know the ones we love..." and usually these refrains
Sep 22, 2016 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-usa, e4
e, claro, o Amor
são os ingredientes principais com que o autor constrói uma bonita história sobre o mistério que é cada ser humano; para os outros e para si próprio.

"Julgamos conhecer aqueles que amamos (...)
Pensamos que os conhecemos. Pensamos que os amamos. Mas o que amamos acaba por revelar-se uma tradução pobre, uma tradução que nós próprios construímos, numa língua que praticamente não conhecemos."
May 14, 2009 Deidre rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Andrew Sean Greer. The Story of a Marriage. New York: Picador, 2008.

I was attracted to this paperback book because of its cover. I read a couple of pages and the read was decent so I bought it. The entire book was a gentle surprise. I will try another book of his.

(41) “It is the hardest kind of knowledge, not just about another but about ourselves. To see our lives as a fiction we have written and believed. Silence and lies. The sensation I felt that evening – that I did not know my Holland [hus
Ebony Haight
Mar 14, 2009 Ebony Haight rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I expected to love this book. When it came out I was giddy and purchased it from my local bookstore with out hesitation. Then I began reading it and found myself stumbling over the prose, which seemed to be imagining itself as more beautiful, more poetic than it actually was. And I was confused by the narrator, not in a pleasant way but more in a sort of, really... what's happening here? kind of way. This from someone who typically enjoys the slow reveal, Never Let me Go being a great example. U ...more
Mar 30, 2008 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book pretty much sums up every poetic mystery to life that I have ever had (and also continues to run through my life as a constant theme.)

Who are we? How do the choices that we make affect the rest of our lives? Fate.... and How could we TRULY EVER know the family + friends that we love?

Most of the time we think that we "know" our husbands, wives, girlfriends, parents....But we can't possibly, and never will....everyone has their secrets - and it's interesting to recognize the "facade"
May 07, 2014 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do we really know about the people we love? What do we really know about love?

This book challenges this question to its very core. Let's go ahead and herald this author for his skilled writing capabilities. That goes without saying. His talent is true but what I want to commend most on is ability to weave a story that is both believable and dramatic. This story attacked me emotionally. It stirred anger and astonishment toward the audacity of these characters and that is a proven sign in m
May 26, 2009 Denis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's always an incomparable pleasure to discover a great novel: it's like rediscovering emotions that you thought you'd not feel again. Greer's book is such a novel, and its aching beauty somehow gets even more compelling, and poignant, as it is illuminated by the knowledge the reader has that he's experiencing a very privileged moment just reading those pages. It is, apparently at least, a very simple story, about a married couple, and a third person who might disrupt this marriage - but as usu ...more
Andrew Sean Greer es un gran escritor, sutil, sencillo, delicado, contenido y evocador. Si me emocionó y sorprendió con su novela 'Las confesiones de Max Tivoli', con 'Historia de un matrimonio' lo ha vuelto a conseguir. Después de leer este libro, pienso en las injusticias que se cometen con los Pulitzer, porque parece que para conseguirlo se ha de escribir un tocho de cientos de páginas contando la historia norteamericana, mejor si hablas de dinastías familiares a lo largo del tiempo. Pero Gre ...more
Teresa Lukey
I'm not sure where to start with reviewing this book. I didn't realize that it was going to be about the struggles of being homosexual in the 1950's. Not that it wasn't interesting to learn that people were prosecuted and jailed for homosexual acts-I had no idea.

The story is narrated by Pearlie Cook, who is married to Holland, described as a beautiful man. Prior to her marriage to Holland, his aunts tell her not to marry him because he has a weak heart. Of course, she doesn't listen to them and
Laurie Neighbors
Surely Andrew Sean Greer could put his talents to better use than to inhabit the presumptive position of narrating from the perspective of a Black woman. I wanted to love this book, but I just got more and more irritated with every page. My disbelief was not the least bit suspended as Greer wrote Pearlie up into a dull, unquestioning, easy to manipulate, passive Black housewife who was tricked time and time again by a manipulative, rich, white, gay male wizard. I kept asking myself if I'd be res ...more
May 11, 2014 Licha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really disliked this book. I wanted to stop this several times but my OCD would not let me. I had high hopes that some big reveal would come along. And two big reveals did come around page 40, but after that nothing more. I didn't quite get what this was about, even after the big reveal. None of the characters were anyone you'd like to know more about and indeed, the author never goes into explaining what they think, what motivates them, what bonds them together. It all sums up to not caring wha ...more
The one thing that pulled me into this book was the first page. Now if you can grab me from the first page, then you already have my immediate attention. As far as the story, let's just say that it is no mistaking that Andrew is a talented writer. The way he writes flawed characters is a gift that no one can take away. Especially since this is my first book I read by him, anxious to read more of his works.

Pearlie in my opinion was a naïve woman. I felt like she tried to keep her composure even a
Warren Rochelle
I wanted to liked this book more than I did. It has earned a great many accolades, including earning a place on several Best Book of the Year lists, and such rave reviews as:

"Bewitching ... A book whose linguistic prowess ad raw storytelling power is almost disruptive to the reader. It's too good to put down and yet each passage is also too good to leave behind."
Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times

Khaled Housseini: "a book about love, and it is a marvel to watch Greer probe the mysteries of love
Sep 12, 2010 Kp rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writing and the plot structure of this book are great. I love the way the author unravels the story slowly, slowly like a ball of yarn so that you can't really see what's in the middle or at the heart of it until the first layers have been unraveled. It keeps the reader wondering - just enough to be interesting, but not so much so that it's confusing. So I really ended up enjoying listening to the story to find out how all the loose ends would come together.

I had a problem with the plot, ho
Apr 21, 2009 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Holland and I had talked about our friends and our childhoods and movies and books and politics—we had agreed and disagreed and had our fights and merry moments over a beer—but I think it’s fair to say we had never spoken honestly in all ours lives.” This quote from A Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer prettily sums up the story’s central conflict. The narrator, Pearlie a young mother and wife to her high school sweetheart, Holland grapples with her marriage in 1950’s San Francisco. She s ...more
This book is a small gem. In fewer than 200 pages, Andrew Sean Greer weaves the story of a marriage in crisis with delicacy, finesse and the prose of an angel. I loved his evocation of San Francisco's Sunset district in the 1950's. But even more than that I loved his ability to capture the mystery at the heart of the book's central relationship. I read it in just two sittings, and was sad when I had finished it.

It's the kind of novel that reminds you why it is we read novels in the first place.
Sep 23, 2009 Joje rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a generous and lyrical novel about several things, but mostly about the mystery of not knowing another's thoughts and feelings, even those of someone so closely watched. The choice of point of view is perfect, since the whole of the mystery moves around Pearlie and that placement is what makes it a mystery. The twists are gently introduced, even elegantly, but I have some doubts on two of them that I shall probably be working through in the next month. Still these questions are balanced ...more
Crediamo tutti di conoscere la persona che amiamo.
Nostro marito, nostra moglie. E li conosciamo davvero, anzi a volte siamo loro: a una festa, divisi in mezzo alla gente, ci troviamo a esprimere le loro opinioni, i loro gusti in fatto di libri e di cucina, a raccontare episodi che non sono nostri, ma loro. Li osserviamo quando parlano e quando guidano, notiamo come si vestono e come intingono una zolletta nel caffè e la guardano mentre da bianca diventa marrone, per poi, soddisfatti, lasciarla c
Sep 02, 2015 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A haunting book set in 1950's America.
We think we know the ones we love but do we?
Beautifully written sad story of secrets, lies and relationships.
Very compelling.
What would you do to protect the one you love?
Anne Marie
Sep 28, 2011 Anne Marie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy this book. And, I really, honestly thought I would! Especially in reading the first few pages. It seemed so elegantly written! As the book progressed however and you were reading chapters and chapters of the same thing, the writing style started to become tedious and repetitive. I definitely got the feeling that the author was "trying too hard". And the content... well.. what content? I finished the book, put it down, and said to myself "So... wait... what was that supposed to be ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Sassy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully layered and richly nuanced book, but it is not complicated or heavy to read. The style is so perfectly crafted in the service of the narrative that it is almost impossible to say anything about the story itself without giving away too much. The book is character rather than plot driven, but the plot is fascinating and surprising, with each turn of events revealed only as the characters themselves realize what is happening. Highly recommend.
B. Lynn
Dec 20, 2009 B. Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Something is amiss when Holland returns from the war. Pearlie, his new bride, cannot put her finger on what is troubling her husband in Andrew Sean Greer's exquisite novel, The Story of a Marriage. This story of restlessness, fear, and conflicting loyalties becomes unsettling with each revelation.

Travel back to the Sunset District of San Francisco in 1953, where life was more complex than we remember. Thought-provoking discoveries await the reader.
Apr 15, 2009 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Claire
Shelves: fiction
"We think we know the ones we love." This is the first line and theme of the book about Pearlie Cook and her marriage to Holland. Brilliant and very profound writing. I love how this author takes you somewhere and then moves you somewhere else. He does a lot with only 195 pages. I won't say much here about the story, because you should come into it open and unassuming. I highly recommend.
Feb 03, 2009 Margot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written. Great for anyone who is married, might get married or knows someone who is married.
Mar 08, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It thought this book was brilliant. Andrew Sean Greer writes beautifully. In prose full of quotations you want to remember, he writes a concise yet thought-provoking novel that reveals itself in layers at just the right times. He keeps you questioning throughout, and sometimes maddeningly frustrated with the characters, but overall explores relationships (friendship and romantic) and the mystery of how we can ever really know another person. There's a strong sub-theme of war that explores the la ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
It's the early '50s and Pearlie Cook is a young housewife and mother, married to her childhood sweetheart, but her illusion of happiness is shattered when a man claiming to be an old friend of her husband's shows up on her doorstep one day.[return][return]I loved this book SO MUCH. I don't even know what to say about it. All I can do is flail happily. Like The Taqwacores, this is a story about people of color (apparently some people thought this was a "twist" in the story, but idk, there are ple ...more
Oct 09, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a coworker recommended this, I thought, "Yeah, great timing. A marriage story--just what I'd love to read right now." But I'm so glad I did.

It's written by a man, but in first-person from the point of view of a wife, in such beautiful, vivid, simple language.

I have to include at least these two quotes:

“How do you make someone love you? For the very young, there can be nothing harder in the world. You may try as hard as you like: place yourself beside them, cook their favorite food, bring
Guillermo Jiménez
"No usar el texto como un pretexto" me repito como mantra, aún incluso antes de terminar de leer esta novela.

Una llamada le anuncia a mamá: «Nidia, acaban de robarme el auto. Al rato te llamo, voy a cortarme el cabello», dice papá. Eso acaba de suceder, tan solo unos minutos. Un par de horas antes terminé de leer esta impecable novela de Andrew Sean Greer (Washington, D. C., 1970), donde nos enteramos del matrimonio de Pearl y Holland. De su matrimonio y de su historia de amor.

Luego veo a mi mad
Mar 15, 2010 Dahlma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't enjoy reading this novel. I felt the author withheld important information and keeps the reader at arms length of the characters. It's odd that he creates a compelling situation but the characters aren't compelling to me because I don't feel that I really know any of them. I don't understand their motivations. I certainly don't get the impression of any ethnic differences among the characters and although I wish I could say this doesn't make a difference, it definitely does in ou ...more
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Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer 3 52 Dec 11, 2013 03:19PM  
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Andrew Sean Greer (born 1970) is an American novelist and short story writer.

He is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named one of the best books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a California Book Award.

The child of two scientists, Greer studied writing
More about Andrew Sean Greer...

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“A lover exists only in fragments, a dozen or so if the romance is new, a thousand if we're married to him, and out of those fragments our heart constructs an entire person. What we each create, since whatever is missing is filled by our imagination, is the person we wish him to be. The less we know him, of course, the more we love him. And that's why we always remember that first rapturous night when he was a stranger, and why this rapture returns only when he's dead.” 70 likes
“Perhaps love is a minor madness. And as with madness, it's unendurable alone. The one person who can relieve us is of course the sole person we cannot go to: the one we love. So instead we seek out allies, even among strangers and wives, fellow patients who, if they can't touch the edge of our particular sorrow, have felt something that cuts nearly as deep.” 69 likes
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