Good Minds Suggest: Katie Kitamura's Favorite Books About Marriage

Posted by Goodreads on February 6, 2017
Katie Kitamura

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In A Separation a woman embarks on a journey to find her unfaithful husband, who goes missing in the rugged south of Greece.

It's here that novelist Katie Kitamura (whose previous books include Gone to the Forest and The Longshot) takes readers on a journey through both external and internal landscapes to discover the truth about her protagonist's marriage.

These are some of Kitamura's favorite books about marriage. They range from classic novels and thrillers to experimental memoirs—all mapping the shifting ground between two people, from minute betrayals to seismic revelations:

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
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"The novel's unnamed narrator is only newly married to the mysterious Maxim de Winter when she becomes obsessed with his deceased first wife, Rebecca. The couple's fragile happiness collapses under the pressure of intrigue, jealousy, and the disquiet of the narrator's imagination. Du Maurier's novel is the ultimate depiction of marriage as a ménage à trois."


Colonel Chabert by Honoré de Balzac
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"A husband presumed dead turns out to be very much alive in Honoré de Balzac's classic Restoration-era novella. Colonel Chabert is wounded while fighting in the Napoleonic Wars and taken for dead. Years later he returns to Paris, only to discover that his wife has remarried and refuses to recognize him. This novel is at once forensic and deeply melancholic, an excavation of the bonds that outlast affection."


What Maisie Knew by Henry James
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"Henry James's novel is told from the point of view of a sensitive and preternaturally perceptive child caught in the middle of a series of complicated domestic arrangements. James deemed the challenges of representing adult matters through the limited consciousness of a child the 'delightful difficulty' at the heart of the novel; the result is a masterpiece of technique, irony, and heartbreak."


My Marriage by Jakob Wassermann
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"This is a brutally honest portrayal of a marriage falling apart at the seams. Closely based on Wassermann's own disastrous personal life, the novel fuses a tense narrative of dread and manipulation with the minute details of a ferocious legal battle between husband and wife. Flawlessly translated by Michael Hofmann, My Marriage dissects the multiple contracts of wedlock, both psychological and legal."


The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
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"It's easier to find stories of marriages gone wrong than marriages that are successful. But The Argonauts is, among other things, the portrait of a graceful marriage. The relationship that comes to life in the pages of Nelson's book is intimate, a work in progress, a narrative that is fiercely contingent and deeply personal. But it's also a political act committed in the face of California's Prop. 8—the bill that made same-sex marriage illegal in the state."

Looking for even more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.



Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Julia (new)

Julia Are there truly no great books that show a happy, satisfying marriage?


message 2: by Bookwormthings (new)

Bookwormthings Probably not, there isn't a lot of drama in those!


message 3: by Mark (last edited Feb 09, 2017 03:52PM) (new)

Mark The successful marriages I see have a lot of drama. The partners are still individuals, and the tension between the humility the marriage requires and the pride and passion of the individual create conflict; the process of resolving it gracefully certainly could generate a novel. Maybe dissolution is easier to write about than solution.


message 4: by Anastasiya (new)

Anastasiya Petkova Julia wrote: "Are there truly no great books that show a happy, satisfying marriage?"
There is. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, Written in My Own Heart's Blood. Tere is drama in a marrage. Even in a successful one.


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