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Memories of a Marriage

3.09  ·  Rating details ·  549 ratings  ·  103 reviews
In the unforgiving class system of the 1950s, Lucy de Bourgh, daughter of one of Rhode Island's first families and beneficiary of an ample trust fund, was married to Thomas Snow, son of a Newport garage owner and his bookkeeper wife. It hardly mattered that Thomas was a graduate of Harvard Business School, or that he went to work for a great Wall Street firm and succeeded ...more
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Nan A. Talese (first published 2013)
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3.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  549 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Elegant is the word I'd use to describe this book. It's the story of a writer in his twilight years who reconnects to a woman from his past and begins discussing with her the circumstances surrounding the breakup of her marriage. I suppose you could say he's obsessed with their story but I think more precisely he has a desire to understand which is something, as we age, people feel more deeply. We want to know the truth and if we've matured enough it's now possible to see it more clearly and wit ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sex among the elite WASP clubby set! Who knew?

This is somehow a good read though not an especially good book. It's hard to care much about a cadre of well-born and successful Manhattanites steeped in Harvard and not much interested in anyone else. But maybe it's interesting to know that there are people who still care about membership in exclusive social clubs. The provincialism which underlies the social setting in this book makes it difficult for the story to be one of consequence.

This is a sh
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am of two minds about Memories of a Marriage -- an odd little book that serves as an expose of a high end WASP marriage turned sour. On the one hand, the characters who live among its pages are types I recall meeting in books back in the 1970s and 1980s. Phillip, the narrator, and his circle are all septuagenarians and they are, without exception, extremely wealthy, 'cultured', Ivy League educated, and urbane. They are the blue chip sort of folk one used to encounter in books but I find less o ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a strange reading experience, because I really didn't care for the book when I first started it. I found the characters simply too pretentious, too obnoxiously rich and uppity to care about. But eventually Begley's excellent (Paul Auster like and this is a huge compliment) narration won me over. The story reads strangely autobiographical or it might just be a narration trick to establish intimacy with the reader, but it does the trick and offers exactly what the title promises, as the m ...more
Lorri Steinbacher
Aug 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Rich people problems. That about sums up the book. It was like having lunch with an aging, somewhat pompous uncle who likes to gossip about his rich, aging friends. It's not an unpleasant way to spend the afternoon, but you find yourself stifling a yawn and surreptitiously checking your watch by dessert.
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, fiction
Not a particularly interesting book, though it is very well-written as are all of Begley's books. It rolled along and kept me interested. No. Not interested. Just reading. Because Begley's writing moves along and brings the reader along too. Probably only for diehard Begley fans.
Ladyce West
Na capa de trás da edição brasileira de Memórias de uma casamento, somos informados de que aqui encontraremos um olhar profundo sobre uma classe e seus privilégios, numa trama que se desenvolve entre Paris e Nova York, Long Island e Newport. Coroando essa apresentação, como que para justificá-la temos uma citação atribuída ao Washington Post: Entre os escritores contemporâneos, Begley talvez seja o crítico mais sagaz e devastador do sistema de classes da sociedade americana. Nada mais ilusório. ...more
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
It’s seductive reading about the lives of the rich and famous, even if they’re fictional. It’s like having the doorman of a Fifth Avenue apartment let you into the plush, muted, old money, high ceilinged gorgeousness of wealth and entitlement. That’s what it’s like reading this book – a little delicious – we are let into an exclusive club. Temporarily. Our entrée into this world is via Philip, an aging writer who unexpectedly meets Lucy, a friend of his youth, a woman who when she was young, was ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
What an odd little book about the difficulties of sifting through other people's impressions of events and people in a vain attempt to find the "truth" of a life, a friendship, a marriage, a point in time. About half way through its 188-page narrative, I was so tired of Lucy's diatribe about her divorced, dead husband Thomas (and her apparent masochism) that I almost put it down. (I felt as the narrator Phillip felt and reported about 50 pages later after hearing yet another version of the belea ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Why do marriages fail? When Philip, the aging protagonist of Louis Begley’s new novella, runs into Lucy de Bourgh at the New York Ballet, he is surprised by the gruff, bitter woman she has become. The old lady who startles him at intermission bears little resemblance to the vivacious, bold heiress and Radcliffe graduate he knew in the ‘50s. Lucy begins to tell Philip her life story, and though she is a tough critic of herself, the real villain in her account is her ex-husband Thomas, a successfu ...more
Jan van Leent
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
In “Memories of a marriage” by Louis Begley, a writer – named Philip – in his seventies reconnects with an old friend – named Lucy – whom he met right out of college and hasn't seen for 40 years. Both main characters are from the East Coast privileged class: their capital acquired by their forefathers from one crime (slave-trade) or another. As parvenus their kind spend their life in luxury in places to be in Europe and at the East Coast.

Lucy once a beautiful woman with the world at her feet, ha
Doubleday  Books
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Meg Wolitzer of The New York Times Book Review said: "[E]ngrossing ... Begley gives us a chance to see into two different, often obscured worlds. One is the most private recesses of another couple’s marriage. The other is high-WASP society — though most people don’t usually even know where that particular unmarked door is, let alone get a chance to have it quietly shut in their faces ... The pleasures of this novel reside not so much in where the 'truth' lies as in its context. The world of the ...more
William Koon
Oct 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Louis Begley is a treasure. His prose sparkles and illuminates in an age of fluorescent flickerings. He does have a limited pallet, but then all great artists who know how to explore realize their territory and its terrors. Like J.P. Marquand and John Cheever, he confines another America and it’s possessions, i.e. Paris and London. His characters are the antithesis of hip. Here he explores a vain and preposterous character’s’ voyage through the hell of Anglo-French upper class life, sex, and its ...more
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's just the kind of book that you can't put down. Set between Long Island, Manhattan and Sharon, CT it's easy to feel you've met all the characters before. You've been in their house and like the protagonist, you had no idea what was going on with their marriages. And it's set in the summer, so everything just seemed right.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Sort of "Fifty Shades of Grey" meets "The Great Gatsby". Sexually aggressive aristocratic Rhode Island socialite marries the "townie" who uses her family connections and trust fund to elevate his status and career in investment banking. He becomes the self-made man and she flails uselessly in loneliness and self defeat.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Awful. The writing was one long run-on sentence after another, mixing speakers and tenses without warning. There was no plot. Being only 188 pages long is just about the only good thing I can say about it. Ugh.
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
His mixture of wit and intelligence with earthy observations is reminiscent of Updike. If the world were fair he would be as widely read.
Geri Nesbitt
Jul 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
The book is fascinating. It takes a little getting used to because you wonder why the main character is so very bitter. But, shortly you are really into it.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-2015
Dec 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Memories of a Marriage, a novel by Louis Begley, is not the narrator’s memoir of his marriage to Bella, a wonderful French woman he lost too early to cancer, but the narrator’s reconstruction of another marriage, one between Lucy and Tom, that ended badly despite the fact that Lucy was an heiress with an ample trust fund and her status helped enable Tom to become a very influential, and very, very wealthy international banker. This in itself is notable because Tom had been from the wrong side o ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
You begin with a narrator who has suffered great loss yet explains it in a "life happens" kind of way. He accepts bachelorhood in the best way he can and decides to distract himself with the compelling mystery of the deterioration of an old friend's marriage. It is curiosity born of boredom, loneliness, and distraction. Truth be told, I'm not sure why the story is even that compelling. Divorce happens, it's often messy, and truthfully I have heard of worse. Is it the fact that the wife is of old ...more
Granny Sebestyen
Bonjour les lecteurs ....
Voici un livre dans lequel j'ai eu du mal à me plonger .
Phillip, qui vient juste de perdre l'amour de sa vie, retrouve par hasard Lucy, une de ses anciennes conquêtes.
Lucy à mal vieillit et est devenue aigrie suite à un mariage raté.
Elle va s'accrocher à Phillip auquel elle n'avait jusqu'alors prêté que peu d'attention.
Lucy captive Phillip et les souvenirs de jeunesse remontent à la surface.
S'en suit une peinture de la société de l'époque ou argent et réussite étaient le
Melissa McGuire
Mar 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book was boring. I could not get into the story. I found myself skimming through the pages and honestly even by doing that i missed nothing. This book could have been alot shorter. I found the author just wrote things to make it longer. When i first started the book i thought it would be great but i was really dissapointed
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
A fairly depressing book with a creepy voyeuristic narrator. If he were writing about his own marriage, it would have been okay, but digging up all the dirt on other people and their marriage was just unpleasant. I waited for some redeeming reason for his interest, but no.
Jan 19, 2019 rated it liked it
You expect one relationship and get another. Well written and engaging, provides an intriguing peek into Yankee aristocracy, but not of literary stature that would drive a future classic.
A chnce meetin of 2 long ago friends leads to their reconnecting. The books narrator is a novelist who is i trigued by his old frien and what went wrong with her marriage.
Jane Larkin
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very easy read.
Jill Meyer
Nov 05, 2016 rated it liked it
" Happy marriages are all alike; every unhappy marriage is unhappy in its own way." In Louis Begley's short new novel, "Memories of a Marriage", certainly the late Thomas Snow and his wife, the former Lucy de Bourgh, had as unhappy a marriage as seen in fiction. Their union had many sides and as many facets as a diamond; in truth, what WAS the truth?

Louis Begley has written quite a few novels of the WASP society in America. Himself a Polish Jewish refugee after WW2, he may see that as the ultima
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Memories of a Marriage is narrated by Philip, a novelist who has recently lost the love of his life to cancer. Now in his golden years, somewhere around the age of 70, fond memories of Bella and also his young daughter who died help him through the rough times. Philip and Bella did everything together, they traveled extensively and even shared office space (Bella was also a writer).

One day while Philip was attending the ballet, he runs into Lucy De Bourgh, a Rhode Island heiress that Philip knew
Every player in Louis Begley's MEMORIES OF A MARRIAGE has their own perspective on what happened in the marriage of socialite Lucy De Bourgh and the poor boy that made good, Thomas Snow. Lucy's version of her life with Thomas is intensely different from the accounts of others in her family and social circle. (Perhaps that is why police should be reluctant to rely on eye witness accounts of any given event).

Twenty five plus years after their divorce and Thomas's death, Lucy has become a bitter, a
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Louis Begley is an American novelist.

Begley was born Ludwik Begleiter in Stryi at the time part of Poland and now in Ukraine, as the only child of a physician. He is a survivor of the Holocaust due to the multiple purchases of Aryan papers by his mother and constant evasion of the Nazis. They survived by pretending to be Polish Catholic. The family left Poland in the fall of 1946 and settled in N