A Passionate 40-Year Marriage
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This book covers the forty-year period in which Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson meet, marry, and produce four daughters: Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace. The book moves back and forth in time. We are either in the present day (2016) or in flashback mode. This chronology is easy to handle because the flashbacks are orderly and labeled. Hence, we get Chapter 1 and 2 followed by 1975, then we get Chapters 3 and 4 followed by 1976–1977, etc.
It is in a flashback that we understand the title of the book. We see Marilyn at a party given by the dean of the medical school David attends. She has baby Violet in a sling across her chest. In an exhausted state — because Wendy and Violet were born in the same year — she makes conversation with one of David’s professors. David is within earshot and hears his “sleep-deprived, hormonally flimsy” wife say, “I just love being a mom. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had.” This becomes the catch-phrase for all stressful times in their lives.
And as you can imagine, with four daughters and forty years to cover, there are lots of stressful times. Indeed, when the book opens all four daughters are stressed to the max. One is a recent widow who is very bitter. Another is a high-strung, stay-at-home mom with a law degree and a BIG secret. Then there is one who is a tenured professor facing solo parenting. And finally, there is one caught up in an embarrassing lie. Fortunately, in spite of sibling rivalries and birth order issues, these young women have lots of family LOVE to fall back on.
Speaking of LOVE in capital letters, a defining element of the story is just how much in love Marilyn and David are. They are besotted with each other. This fact is tough on everyone.
- As their daughters grow into adulthood, this example of marital love is a hard act to follow.
- It’s also hard to comprehend for the teenage grandson who stumbles upon them flirting in the kitchen and tries to “understand this new faction of human life where people…consciously chose to talk about weeds with their crotches touching.”
- And some readers might likewise wonder about all the PDA…and even tire of it.
I was ok with the public display of affection. And I truly wanted to know how things would pan out for all the characters. But I still had difficulty with the book. Other reviewers suggest that a tighter edit might have improved the story. At 544 pages in hardback and 20 ½ hours (!!!!) in audiotape, this might be true. My problem with the book is that I listened to it and found the narrator’s performance (Emily Rankin) to be cloying and annoying. Still, I stuck with it for all those hours because the storyline is that compelling.
Bottom line: READ this book, but don’t listen to it.
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