Michele's Reviews > The Senator's Wife

The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller
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Feb 06, 08

Read in February, 2008

Life Doesn't Change in its Fundamentals"

I've read enough work by Sue Miller to say with complete confidence that she's a brilliant writer, and a master at character development. The Senator's Wife is a gray tale of two couples, neighbors sharing an east coast duplex in an upscale neighborhood. In the story, Miller brings in the focus so tightly, that it feels a little voyeuristic prying into the everyday thoughts, feelings and actions of these characters. Said characters are ordinary, but at the same time fascinating because of their mundane circumstances. Given this, one may wonder how the author manages to keep the reader interested for 306 pages. Again, I attribute it to the brilliant writing.

Alternating chapters from the perspectives of Delia, a grandmother who is the "Senator's Wife," and Meri, a woman in her mid-30s who is fascinated by the quiet glamour of Delia, move the story from 1993 to present day. Meri and her husband Nathan, a college professor, move to the split house. The decision to purchase their portion of the dwelling is based on his fascination with Delia's husband, a notorious senator, now retired. The senator is mysterious and although he is rarely seen, he is very much a part of the story. Delia's excerpts explain their complicated relationship in detail. But the thrust of the story centers on Meri's fascination with Delia, hence the title, and how the relationship between the women leads to the climax.

The Senator's Wife is a fundamental look at life. It's a look at young marriage and an aged marriage lived side-by-side. It's a look at long process of raising children from birth to middle age, and at finding one's place as a caregiver. It's not action-packed or even very exciting, but for fans of Sue Miller and for those readers who appreciate strong character development, I do recommend reading this novel.
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