October's book of the month
MONOGAMY, Sue Miller
Annie is not the first love of Graham's life but she is, he thinks, his last and greatest. Very recently, he has faltered; but he means to put it right.
Here they are in marriage, in late middle age, in comfort. Mismatched, and yet so well matched: the bookseller with his appetite, his conviviality, his bigness; the photographer with her delicacy, her astuteness, her reserve. The children are offstage, grown up and scattered on either coast; Graham's first wife, Frieda, is peaceably in their lives, but not between them.
Then the unthinkable happens. Now Annie stumbles in the dark: did she know all there was to know about the man who loved her? If no marriage is without its small indiscretions, how great does a betrayal have to be to be to break it?
A novel about marriage, family, secrets and love, Monogamy confirms Sue Miller's place among the greatest writers at work in America today.
Small Pleasures – Clare Chambers Late in the Day – Tessa Hadley Commonwealth – Ann Patchett Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout Housekeeping – Marilynne Robinson The Forgotten Waltz – Anne Enright Here is the Beehive – Sarah Crossan
1. How does Sue Miller create a tension between love, grief, and anger? How does Annie work through this conflict?
2. Why do you think the author chooses to swap between different perspectives while narrating each chapter? What does this narrative style tell us about truth, memory and perception?
3. What is your impression of Graham while he is alive? How does this change after his death, and throughout the rest of the novel?
4. What do you make of the relationship between Annie and Frieda? How does the presence of each woman in the other’s life help to illuminate these characters?
5. Annie works as a photographer, and part of the plot is signposted by the development of her latest exhibition. Do you think Annie’s interest in photography is significant? How do photographs influence our memories and our perception?
6. How do you feel towards Rosemary? How does Annie come to terms with what she discovers about her?
7. Sarah and Lucas arrive to grieve their father. How does their experience of grief differ from Annie’s? In what ways is it the same? How are the grown-up children helpful to Annie as she processes what has happened?
8. Graham’s marriage to Frieda broke down because of his infidelity. Does this past history add an extra layer of poignancy to the story?
9. What do we learn about Annie’s life before she met Graham? How does this shape our understanding of her in the present?
10. Sue Miller has been widely praised for her ability to depict everyday life. Do you agree? Are there any particular scenes in the novel which portray small details from ordinary moments, but which still create a significant impression?
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