Man and Wife – Tony Parsons

A couple of weeks ago I was out in the city at my favorite bookstore, playing my little book-game: find a book you haven’t seen before nor heard of either. Between the classics, the biographies, and thrillers of the moment, I felt the need for something different. Something more….contemporary. Man and Wife seemed like a good choice.

The story it presents is quite common but far from simple. Harry Silver is a man with a complicated life. It didn’t use to be that complicated: he had a beautiful wife, Gina and an amazing son, Pat, and to top it all, a good job in television. Then a mistake changed everything.

Fast forward a few years and here’s Harry again, married a second time to another beauty, Cyd, trying to make a new life together with her and her daughter, little Peg. Between visits to see his son, a strained relationship with his wife and a bitter one with his ex-wife, the death of his father and the challenge of dealing with his mother’s health issues, Harry feels a bit overwhelmed. To make things even more interesting, a new girl catches his eye and there he is, ready to fall into the same trap again.

Is the grass really greener on the other side? Harry seems to think so, as he envisions a new life in a new place, a new wife, a new start. But is that really how things work?

Parsons talks about what a marriage really is. Not in a moralistic way, but more like from the point of view of the man who’s been there and done that. The mistakes, the jealousy, the feeling of insecurity, the sweet siren song of temptation, it’s all there, and the protagonist has to deal with it. Sometimes it’s tough and sometimes it may seem like a futile task, but Harry is given a second chance. Will he prove that he’s learned something from his mistakes or is he doomed to repeat them all over again? Is the search for that everlasting love – the kind his parents once shared until death separated them – bound to go on and on, or does he really have a chance of finding it for himself with his wife?

The book provides some answers and there is something to be learned from it. It’s written in an entertaining and easy to read style where humor mingles with heartbreak and things change when you least expect it. An entertaining read.

*read in June 2011

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4 Responses to Man and Wife – Tony Parsons

  1. Esa says:

    To write a novel about a marriage and make it ring true, is hard to achieve. But this book sounds like it is one of the good ones. It reminds me of Lisey’s Story by Stephen King. It was a well done portrait of a long marriage, where you see the little things that mean so much.

  2. Delia says:

    I found King’s approach more straightforward and sometimes brutally honest, with a nasty underside. His characters are not just names on a page in a book, they feel as real as the next door neighbor.

    Man and Wife is about today’s relationships and even though it presents a more romanticized version of marriage and relationships, it does raise some interesting questions.

  3. Esa says:

    I agree with your King assessment. I do think his women characters are becoming stronger with each book.

    As for Tony Parsons book, there is a prequel of sorts to Man and Wife, do you feel inclined to read it? I think I will give them a try at some point.

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