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The Odds: A Love Story

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  3,090 ratings  ·  631 reviews
The beloved Stewart O'Nan, author of the bestselling Last Night at the Lobster and Emily, Alone, returns with another bittersweet gem.

Jobless, nearly homeless, and with their marriage on the brink of collapse, Art and Marion Fowler flee their Cleveland home for one last Valentine's Day hurrah at Niagara Falls. Their days are spent sightseeing, but at night they risk what d
Hardcover, 179 pages
Published January 19th 2012 by Viking (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,090 ratings  ·  631 reviews

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Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The odds of surviving going over Niagara Falls in a barrel: 1 in 3

The odds of married people reaching their 25th anniversary: 1 in 6

This little book (just 179 pages), The Odds: A Love Story, by Stewart O'Nan is one that I just read for the second time. Anyone who knows me is aware that I love Stewart O'Nan's storytelling, but the first time I read this book years ago, I was less than impressed with it. I'm not sure why I decided to revisit the book but I'm happy I did. I found that this time th
Mary Lou
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
I am most likely biased based on a recent personal "adventure" with the misgiving of relationships and the perils of love... If I know what it is. O'Nan wrote, as always, with grace, admirable description, & his near unique ability to make the ordinary extraordinary. All his novels take an everyday event, usually covering a very brief period of time, and paint a picture of a working class, typical, seemingly everyday relationship, day at work, small-town event, etc.

I found The Chapter Title
Nov 28, 2011 rated it really liked it

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 rated it it was ok
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 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it

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 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Crystal (VanillaHearts62)
Oct 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: won
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Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
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)
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 09, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Diane S ☔
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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)
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Larry H
Jan 28, 2012 rated it liked it
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
T.E. Grau
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Steve Horowitt
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
READ THIS!!! This guy has an innate ability to tap the human psyche; the tense communications, things we're afraid to say and do; our foibles and inadequacies. He illuminates the drama and complexity of everyday life with honesty, compassion and humor.

"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."d
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Die Chance ist ein echter Pageturner, aber eine Sache war mir bei dieser "wir machen noch mal eine Pauschalreise am Valentinstag 30 Jahre nach der Hochzeit zu den Niagarafällen und retten damit unsere Ehe Geschichte" schon etwas befremdlich, dass die Beziehung zwischen Art und Marion mittels Glücksspiel gerettet wurde. Naja, sowas kann halt nur im Roman funktionieren. Eins steht für mich fest, dass Geldsorgen, Liebe, Vertrauen und so'n Zeugs nicht am Roulettetisch geklärt werden sollte.
John Owen
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a quick read. It is the story of a baby boomer couple who have run out of luck. Both have been let go from their jobs and are near bankruptcy. They decide to make one last attempt to recover by making a big bet at a Niagara Falls casino. Ok, so the plot is a bit contrived. O'Nan makes it interesting and believable.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2012
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.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4 1/2 Stars. This book isn't great literature, but I could not put it down. I found it really appealing and it just drew me in from start to finish.
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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
“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.” 3826 likes
“The happiest she'd ever been was with him, and the saddest. Was that the true test of love?” 27 likes
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