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A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage
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A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  136 reviews
In the tradition of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, comes a poignant memoir about a marriage that was as deep and strong as it was mysterious and complex

Upton and Sally Brady were a rare breed: cultivated and elegant, they lived a life of literary glamour and high expectations. Sally a debutante; Upton a classics major from Harvard, they met at the Boston C
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 22nd 2011)
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Average rating 3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  588 ratings  ·  136 reviews

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Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm always grateful to Goodreads First Reads to have the privilege of reading a pre-pub book. I gravitated to this one because of the publisher's comparisons to Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking, a lyrical, unflinching highly introspective book about the death of Didion's husband, John Gregory Dunne.

This is not that book.

Sally Ryder Brady -- the long-time wife of Upton Brady, the editor-in-chief of Atlantic Monthly Press -- lived in a rarefied world of famous writers and parties, sailboats
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is one of those memoirs that most likely served as a cathartic experience for its writer, and is of such a personal nature that, while one can thus understand the writing of it, one really can't understand the need to publish it. Barely five pages into her narrative the author recalls an act of physical intimacy with her husband so personal that I think I actually recoiled from the page: Too much information, lady, I thought, What made you think anyone needed to know that?

One of the questio
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it

I absolutely enjoyed reading this book because the author is quite adept at telling a story, and has a gift for detail. She definitely transports the reader to the particular time and place, and I thought the subject matter was absolutely compelling. That being said, I found Mrs. Ryder Brady's reaction to her husband dislosing to her that he had slept with another man to be disingenous, perplexing and downright idiotic. She literally packed her skis and took off for the
Victoria Whipple
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it
This was a title I got through Goodreads First reads, and I put off reading it because it's not my usual fare. As a school librarian, I usually read children's and YA books, and if I actually read a "grown-up" book, I usually prefer fiction. But having devoured Sapphique and not being prepared with another book I picked up "Box of Darkness", and I didn't want to put it down. Sally Ryder Brady has written a story of the marriage to her husband of 45 years. After his death, she used the writing pr ...more
May 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book was mildly interesting for its description of a time gone by, when good girls from Northeast Protestant families went "bad" by dating outside their denominations, dropped out of Barnard to become someone's secretary, took acting classes and did one year of summer stock, got emotionally steamrolled by their awful, borderline personality disorder mothers, and then, their husbands. This story is probably entertaining for the seersucker suit set, many of whom must know the Bradys by reputa ...more
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This is another in those bitter modern memoirs that are circulating now, but better written than most. The gist of it is that Sally Ryder Brady married and had 5 children with (SPOILER ALERT) a man, who became a prominent editor of The Atlantic Monthly, who she realizes after his death was either bisexual or gay but unable to accept his homosexuality. Still, I kept getting an uneasy feeing throughout the book...she seemed just too good to be true (verbally and emotionally abused by her mother an ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Diane , I really think you'll like this one .
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book is a wonderful reminder to me of what my dear and amazing friend , Diane, and I so often talk about - " Everyone has a story " . This is Sally Ryder Brady's story .
My three star rating only reflects my humble opinion of the book , it's cover , the writing style , etc . Sally Ryder Brady's " story " deserves a 5 star rating .
Her " story " told on the written page through timelines , events and other characters really is much deeper than any written word . It is HER story and speaks
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Very well written and certainly held my interest - but there were times in the middle when I took a real dislike to the author. If you are afraid for your children - not physically but emotionally - is it really a good idea to stay married? It would be interesting to have their take on things. I also found it hard to believe that she was surprised, after her husband's death, to find out that he was either gay or bisexual - after all, he admitted during their marriage to having sex with another m ...more
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
I got this book as a Goodreads First Read.

It was fascinating. Like watching a train wreck fascinating.

In the beginning, I wasn't sure exactly what it was that drew Sally to Upton other than the fact that the dancing was magnificent. (She admits there were red flags during their courtship.) By the end, I got the sense that the other things she loved about him she loved simply because they had been together so long. But she did love him, and the way she tells her story is lovely in a way that is
Diane S ☔
Feb 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
While I was reading the first half of the book I thought Sally Brady was either stupid or a saint. Upton Brady was in turn either delightful to be around or destructive. But by the end of the book I applauded her courage in staying in a marriage that was difficult to say the least and in finding a way to get her husband to accept help for his problems, while finding herself and helping her come to terms with her marriage. She loved him with an unconditional love and it is just sad that he was in ...more
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as A First Reads giveaway. I enjoyed the book, though I think the author sold herself short. I was left wondering why she remained in her marriage for so long when she really only presented a cursory and superficial description of her husband's good qualities. He was presented in a very negative light. I was left feeling--not that they had a deep and complex marriage--but rather that she was a weak and co-dependent woman who chose to ignore major warning signs in her attempt ...more
Nov 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
I just finished this book. Once I started reading I didn't want to quit till I finished it. The story draws you in. It is a story about marriage and betrayal. A story about finding out that you don't really know the person you thought you knew best. An excellent book.

I received an advanced reading copy of this book through Goodreads.
Apr 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Sorry, this book was not for me. I felt it was slightly disingenuous for the author to proclaim love and admiration for her deceased husband then write an intimate expose about his alcoholism and bisexuality/homosexuality, while presenting herself as a mostly normal wife and mother. I guess I missed something as most people who read this book gave it high ratings.
Oct 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received Sally Ryder Brady’s book A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Sally Ryder Brady’s A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage offers a glimpse into the lives of two fascinating individuals who share a deep love and enduring friendship, as well as a passionate commitment to making their partnership work. The author brings you on a tumultuous ride that is the story of her life with Upton Brady, a victim of a conservative upbringing, strict rel
Nov 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a very honest and at times, an uncomfortable and painful memoir to read. Written by Sally Ryder Brady about her relationship with her husband, Upton, this memoir alternates between the past (when they first met and the course of their relationship) and comes back to the present where Sally is learning how to deal with her life as a widow.

While going through some of Upton's belongings after his death, Sally discovers something which is very shocking to her and leaves her questioning whe
Annie Garvey
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was ok
Superficial in the extreme. This book offered no insights into either Upton or Sally or their worlds; except perhaps that Sally's connections managed to get her a publisher for this self-indulgent, cathartic novella.
After reading the publisher's blurbs and reviews, I thought I would get some sort of idea as to how a woman can stay with a man who she knows to be gay, who is abusive, and who is an alcoholic who will not stop drinking. Not.
This read like a cliff notes and gave nothing except a ske
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a very well-written memoir of a marriage that was richly blessed, idyllic, and filled with pain and sorrow. The author writes eloquently and simply about her complicated husband - there was so much that they shared; love, intelligent conversation, music, dancing, literature - but there was also a part of her husband that he held back. Lots of love and lots of anger - the writer conveys her memories without seemingly to breach their intimacy. Brady decides to share her story after secrets ...more
Nov 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I can't remember the last time I was so moved by a book. The storybook romance and the true difficult romance and love were blended together in a way that made me appreciate the genius of Upton Brady and feel touched by his frailities and Sally's steadfastness and love! Sally Ryder Brady is as much a genius as her husband was and she has displayed her skill with words that tell the whole story of their life together in a beautiful and truthful manner.
I feel extremely fortunate to have been selec
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was certainly an enjoyable and engaging read. Sally Ryder Brady's writing style creates and maintains a bond with her readers, but the story lacks satisfaction. Maybe its a study in resignation and determination. At times, especially in the early days, Upton was charming and magnificent to behold, but that didn't last. The marriage did, but as a reader, I'm not convinced why. Was she saving him? Did Upton want saving? A Box of Darkness remains an intriguing story of a marriage, with depth, ...more
Nov 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
Every marriage is different for sure, and everyone has his or her own line in the sand, but wow! It was difficult to connect or empathize with these characters, especially Sally. I found the flashbacks hard to follow, and some storylines just dangled and died. Didn't have great expectations, but was disappointed overall.
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
An searingly honest reflection by Brady of her troubled marriage to a complicated man.
Sep 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
How did this book got published? How did this book get any reviews at all? Why did I read this book past the first page?
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Not sure why she needed to tell this story. Seemed quite self serving.
Linda Doyle
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Brady's book is an easy read that I devoured in two days. It was interesting to read about a world of high literary society, one of which I am completely unfamiliar. It was also interesting to read about Brady's dysfunctional marriage. I felt a bit voyeuristic about it all, but that didn't stop me from reading. But something was missing from this otherwise interesting and entertaining book: I didn't feel any sympathy, any anger, any emotion at all. This was unusual, considering the nature of Bra ...more
Jana Kaplan
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: wishlist
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author's husband was the director of the Atlantic Monthly Press and together they hobnobbed with the literary lights of the time. However, they had four children and no trust funds to back up the his modest salary at the Press. When he suddenly died, the author learned that he left thousands in debt and that was only the beginning of the surprises. There were indications that his attraction to men continued parallel to their "charmed" family life.

Most striking about this book for me is the
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
This was a book for the author. Period! I’m sure it helped her, but did absolutely nothing for me as a reader. If you’re sitting on the fence as to if you should read this or not. I say not! You’re life will not be enriched by reading this.
Nov 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
I received this book from the Goodreads Advance Readers Program. The blurb posted on the site made it sound like it would be interesting, and even though I received it a month or so ago, I just got around to reading it now. In short, it is a good read - I started it and finished it in one day.

This true story tells of Upton and Sally Brady, who met when she was introduced at a debutante ball, had lives that intersected at points in the next few years, and who married in 1956. When the book opens
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-health, memoir
Interesting reading. Sally Brady seems to be mainly asking if her husband loved her, and proving that she loved him. He probably would not have appreciated this book (page 208: "The big question will never be answered, though. "Do you mind if I tell this story?""

I think she DID write the book as a catharsis (page 206) although she repudiated this idea.

We may never really know what is in another person's heart, no matter how deeply we know him or her. That is a lesson from this book to me.

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Sally Ryder Brady, writer, teacher, and free-lance editor, is the author of the novel, INSTAR (Doubleday 1976; Ballantine 1977), an illustrated book of adult humor, SWEET MEMORIES (Bloomsbury USA 2006), and two books of non-fiction, A YANKEE CHRISTMAS Featuring Nantucket & A YANKEE CHRISTMAS Featuring Vermont (Yankee Books/Rodale 1992 & 1993) for which she appeared on Oprah. Her short stor ...more
“Ben shrugged his shoulders. "I find that people who have good luck in their lives tend to have good luck medically." Perhaps there is truth in this.” 2 likes
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