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  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2017/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , who's afraid of virginia woolf   

    The 6 Most Deceptive Marriages in Fiction 

    It’s all too easy to look at someone else’s love from the outside and think it looks perfect—after all, in the age of social media, perception of happiness, especially in your love life, is everything.  That’s why we need great writers, writers who can show us what looks like a happy marriage, then slowly—or explosively—reveal the true darkness within. The marriages in these six novels aren’t the worst in literary history (maybe), but they’re possibly the most deceptive.

    Almost Missed You, by Jessica Strawser
    Strawser’s debut novel is one of those perfectly-plotted, fast-paced thrillers that quickly establishes an idyllic life, only to tear it down with gleeful intensity. Violet and her husband Finn were “meant to be.” and are annoyingly happy on their first family vacation with toddler son Bear. Then Finn leaves Violet on the beach, takes Bear, and leaves, without explanation, and forces Violet’s best friend, Caitlin, to assist him with the application of a little blackmail. Violet is sent spinning down a rabbit hole of revelations and secrets that expose her ideal marriage to be much darker and more complex than she could have imagined. If you’ve ever had a moment of happiness in your relationship and wondered how you got to be so lucky, Strawser’s book will make you pause and wonder if maybe you aren’t as happy as you think.

    The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena
    Lapena’s debut set a standard in deceptive marriages with Anne and Marco Conti. On the surface, they are the perfect young couple: successful, loving, blessed with an adorable baby daughter. The first hint that they’re not that perfect is their decision to leave baby Cora alone for the evening when the babysitter cancels on the night of a party. Arriving home late and inebriated, they discover the front door open and the baby kidnapped. The investigation slowly picks apart their perfect image, revealing rot and lies, building towards a series of revelations that make it clear just how much of a deception the marriage really was.

    Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris
    Paris answers the question, “what would it be like if your spouse turned out to be a sociopath?” in grand fashion, offering up the marriage of Grace and Jack Angel as the answer. From the outside, they’re perfect—good-looking, successful, happy. They even throw great dinner parties, with Grace the perfect hostess. But Grace never answers the phone and never goes out alone—in fact, she is a prisoner in her own home, punished for any disobedience and tortured on a daily basis by Jack’s insane rules. Worse, Grace’s teenage sister Millie is planning to come live with them, and Jack has made it clear he has similar plans for her. Behind the facade of the ideal marriage is a nightmare, and the story of Grace’s desperate race to save her sister makes for gripping, tension-filled reading.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    Du Maurier’s classic novel of suspense has at its heart not one, but two deceptive marriages. The first, between wealthy Maxim de Winter and his first wife, Rebecca, seems to be one of devotion from a husband to a departed wife who died as the result of a tragic accident. His devotion is shared by the staff at his estate, and is so powerful, Rebecca seems to haunt every aspect of the place, with her possessions and personality preserved. The second is between Maxim and his new wife, who contends not only with the memory of her predecessor and the hostility of the servants, but with the dawning realization that Maxim’s devotion to his wife—and her death—isn’t at all what it seems.

    How to be a Good Wife, by Emma Chapman
    The term gaslighting is everywhere these days, and Chapman’s tense, disturbing novel is therefore an ideal read. Marta opens the story as a vaguely dissatisfied housewife suffering from an empty nest. She and her husband Hector seem solid, if not precisely passionate for each other. But Marta stops taking the medicine Hector has always insisted she have, and little things begin to seem … off, especially her murky memories of life before Hector. As Marta begins to pull at threads that have been in place for 20 years or more, everything about the placid life around her begins to unravel.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
    No, we’re not talking about Martha and George, the fighting couple who anchor this thrilling dark comedy. We’re talking about Nick and Honey, the young couple invited over for dinner. Initially, Nick and Honey seem like a sweet couple horrified at the behavior of their hosts, but as they’re drawn into the drunken, emotionally abusive events of the evening, they are slowly revealed to be just as deceptive. By the end, it’s pretty certain that Nick married Honey for her family’s money, Honey used a pregnancy scare to trap him into committing, and that Nick attempted to sleep with Martha but couldn’t—because he’s too drunk. And that’s all in the course of a few hours.

     

    The post The 6 Most Deceptive Marriages in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2017/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , how to be a good wife, , who's afraid of virginia woolf   

    The 6 Most Deceptive Marriages in Fiction 

    It’s all too easy to look at someone else’s love from the outside and think it looks perfect—after all, in the age of social media, perception of happiness, especially in your love life, is everything.  That’s why we need great writers, writers who can show us what looks like a happy marriage, then slowly—or explosively—reveal the true darkness within. The marriages in these six novels aren’t the worst in literary history (maybe), but they’re possibly the most deceptive.

    Almost Missed You, by Jessica Strawser
    Strawser’s debut novel is one of those perfectly-plotted, fast-paced thrillers that quickly establishes an idyllic life, only to tear it down with gleeful intensity. Violet and her husband Finn were “meant to be.” and are annoyingly happy on their first family vacation with toddler son Bear. Then Finn leaves Violet on the beach, takes Bear, and leaves, without explanation, and forces Violet’s best friend, Caitlin, to assist him with the application of a little blackmail. Violet is sent spinning down a rabbit hole of revelations and secrets that expose her ideal marriage to be much darker and more complex than she could have imagined. If you’ve ever had a moment of happiness in your relationship and wondered how you got to be so lucky, Strawser’s book will make you pause and wonder if maybe you aren’t as happy as you think.

    The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena
    Lapena’s debut set a standard in deceptive marriages with Anne and Marco Conti. On the surface, they are the perfect young couple: successful, loving, blessed with an adorable baby daughter. The first hint that they’re not that perfect is their decision to leave baby Cora alone for the evening when the babysitter cancels on the night of a party. Arriving home late and inebriated, they discover the front door open and the baby kidnapped. The investigation slowly picks apart their perfect image, revealing rot and lies, building towards a series of revelations that make it clear just how much of a deception the marriage really was.

    Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris
    Paris answers the question, “what would it be like if your spouse turned out to be a sociopath?” in grand fashion, offering up the marriage of Grace and Jack Angel as the answer. From the outside, they’re perfect—good-looking, successful, happy. They even throw great dinner parties, with Grace the perfect hostess. But Grace never answers the phone and never goes out alone—in fact, she is a prisoner in her own home, punished for any disobedience and tortured on a daily basis by Jack’s insane rules. Worse, Grace’s teenage sister Millie is planning to come live with them, and Jack has made it clear he has similar plans for her. Behind the facade of the ideal marriage is a nightmare, and the story of Grace’s desperate race to save her sister makes for gripping, tension-filled reading.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    Du Maurier’s classic novel of suspense has at its heart not one, but two deceptive marriages. The first, between wealthy Maxim de Winter and his first wife, Rebecca, seems to be one of devotion from a husband to a departed wife who died as the result of a tragic accident. His devotion is shared by the staff at his estate, and is so powerful, Rebecca seems to haunt every aspect of the place, with her possessions and personality preserved. The second is between Maxim and his new wife, who contends not only with the memory of her predecessor and the hostility of the servants, but with the dawning realization that Maxim’s devotion to his wife—and her death—isn’t at all what it seems.

    How to be a Good Wife, by Emma Chapman
    The term gaslighting is everywhere these days, and Chapman’s tense, disturbing novel is therefore an ideal read. Marta opens the story as a vaguely dissatisfied housewife suffering from an empty nest. She and her husband Hector seem solid, if not precisely passionate for each other. But Marta stops taking the medicine Hector has always insisted she have, and little things begin to seem … off, especially her murky memories of life before Hector. As Marta begins to pull at threads that have been in place for 20 years or more, everything about the placid life around her begins to unravel.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
    No, we’re not talking about Martha and George, the fighting couple who anchor this thrilling dark comedy. We’re talking about Nick and Honey, the young couple invited over for dinner. Initially, Nick and Honey seem like a sweet couple horrified at the behavior of their hosts, but as they’re drawn into the drunken, emotionally abusive events of the evening, they are slowly revealed to be just as deceptive. By the end, it’s pretty certain that Nick married Honey for her family’s money, Honey used a pregnancy scare to trap him into committing, and that Nick attempted to sleep with Martha but couldn’t—because he’s too drunk. And that’s all in the course of a few hours.

     

    The post The 6 Most Deceptive Marriages in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2017/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: , , , who's afraid of virginia woolf   

    The 6 Most Deceptive Marriages in Fiction 

    It’s all too easy to look at someone else’s love from the outside and think it looks perfect—after all, in the age of social media, perception of happiness, especially in your love life, is everything.  That’s why we need great writers, writers who can show us what looks like a happy marriage, then slowly—or explosively—reveal the true darkness within. The marriages in these six novels aren’t the worst in literary history (maybe), but they’re possibly the most deceptive.

    Almost Missed You, by Jessica Strawser
    Strawser’s debut novel is one of those perfectly-plotted, fast-paced thrillers that quickly establishes an idyllic life, only to tear it down with gleeful intensity. Violet and her husband Finn were “meant to be.” and are annoyingly happy on their first family vacation with toddler son Bear. Then Finn leaves Violet on the beach, takes Bear, and leaves, without explanation, and forces Violet’s best friend, Caitlin, to assist him with the application of a little blackmail. Violet is sent spinning down a rabbit hole of revelations and secrets that expose her ideal marriage to be much darker and more complex than she could have imagined. If you’ve ever had a moment of happiness in your relationship and wondered how you got to be so lucky, Strawser’s book will make you pause and wonder if maybe you aren’t as happy as you think.

    The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena
    Lapena’s debut set a standard in deceptive marriages with Anne and Marco Conti. On the surface, they are the perfect young couple: successful, loving, blessed with an adorable baby daughter. The first hint that they’re not that perfect is their decision to leave baby Cora alone for the evening when the babysitter cancels on the night of a party. Arriving home late and inebriated, they discover the front door open and the baby kidnapped. The investigation slowly picks apart their perfect image, revealing rot and lies, building towards a series of revelations that make it clear just how much of a deception the marriage really was.

    Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris
    Paris answers the question, “what would it be like if your spouse turned out to be a sociopath?” in grand fashion, offering up the marriage of Grace and Jack Angel as the answer. From the outside, they’re perfect—good-looking, successful, happy. They even throw great dinner parties, with Grace the perfect hostess. But Grace never answers the phone and never goes out alone—in fact, she is a prisoner in her own home, punished for any disobedience and tortured on a daily basis by Jack’s insane rules. Worse, Grace’s teenage sister Millie is planning to come live with them, and Jack has made it clear he has similar plans for her. Behind the facade of the ideal marriage is a nightmare, and the story of Grace’s desperate race to save her sister makes for gripping, tension-filled reading.

    Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
    Du Maurier’s classic novel of suspense has at its heart not one, but two deceptive marriages. The first, between wealthy Maxim de Winter and his first wife, Rebecca, seems to be one of devotion from a husband to a departed wife who died as the result of a tragic accident. His devotion is shared by the staff at his estate, and is so powerful, Rebecca seems to haunt every aspect of the place, with her possessions and personality preserved. The second is between Maxim and his new wife, who contends not only with the memory of her predecessor and the hostility of the servants, but with the dawning realization that Maxim’s devotion to his wife—and her death—isn’t at all what it seems.

    How to be a Good Wife, by Emma Chapman
    The term gaslighting is everywhere these days, and Chapman’s tense, disturbing novel is therefore an ideal read. Marta opens the story as a vaguely dissatisfied housewife suffering from an empty nest. She and her husband Hector seem solid, if not precisely passionate for each other. But Marta stops taking the medicine Hector has always insisted she have, and little things begin to seem … off, especially her murky memories of life before Hector. As Marta begins to pull at threads that have been in place for 20 years or more, everything about the placid life around her begins to unravel.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
    No, we’re not talking about Martha and George, the fighting couple who anchor this thrilling dark comedy. We’re talking about Nick and Honey, the young couple invited over for dinner. Initially, Nick and Honey seem like a sweet couple horrified at the behavior of their hosts, but as they’re drawn into the drunken, emotionally abusive events of the evening, they are slowly revealed to be just as deceptive. By the end, it’s pretty certain that Nick married Honey for her family’s money, Honey used a pregnancy scare to trap him into committing, and that Nick attempted to sleep with Martha but couldn’t—because he’s too drunk. And that’s all in the course of a few hours.

     

    The post The 6 Most Deceptive Marriages in Fiction appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Brian Boone 5:00 pm on 2016/12/15 Permalink
    Tags: , seascape, the goat or who is sylvia, the play's the thing, , three tall women, , who's afraid of virginia woolf   

    Remembering Edward Albee: 5 Plays to Read Now 

    Last September, Edward Albee passed away at the age of 88. Among the last great major American playwrights of the 20th century, he won three Pulitzer Prizes for his dramas, which often dealt with the falsities of modern life and the lies we all tell ourselves to get by. Okay, that sounds pretty bleak. And sure, while his plays often ended with relationships in shambles, they were also really funny, and as he got older and evolved as a writer, they became quite strange. At any rate, his plays don’t have to be seen to be enjoyed—here are some eminently readable works by the late, great Edward Albee.

    Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1962)
    Before there was “comedy of discomfort” as exemplified by Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office, there was drama of the discomfort. And Albee’s smash hit from 1962 is about as uncomfortable as it gets. Think of every dinner party you’ve ever been to when the hosts start passive-aggressively (or aggressively) sniping at each other as the booze begins to flow. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? depicts that kind of an evening, as professor George and his wife Martha invite a young colleague and his wife over for dinner. As the night wears on, George and Martha’s marriage disintegrates as they inappropriately flirt with their guests, drink way too much, and flat out tell each other that they’ve ruined each other’s lives. (Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for her masterful portrayal of Martha in the 1966 film version.)

    A Delicate Balance (1966)
    That title? A bit of a spoiler. Albee won his first Pulitzer Prize for another up-close-and-personal criticisms of marriage and traditional family structures. A study in contrasts, a well-to-do couple named Tobias and Agnes (along with Agnes’s perpetually drunk and funny sister Claire) find their lives invaded by intruders: their friends Harry and Edna, escaping some kind of horrible thing that remains unnamed. (Is it the future? Yeah, it’s probably the future.) Along for the invasion of privacy and sanity is Agnes and Tobias’s daughter, seeking refuge after her fourth divorce.

    Seascape (1975)
    Seascape features something one doesn’t usually find in the legitimate theater: sea creatures. However, it’s an Edward Albee play, so that’s offset by lots of insight about relationships. Once again, Albee examines a marriage in disarray: Nancy and Charles are at retirement age and take a trip to the beach to discuss their uneasy journey forward. And then they’re joined by two humanoid lizards who crawled out of the ocean because they were also seeking a change. (Albee took home another Pulitzer for this one.)

    Three Tall Women (1991)
    While Albee generally wrote in a linear, realistic style, Three Tall Women offers a shift to a more experimental, even expressionistic style. It’s the surreal story of “A,” a 90-year-old woman reflecting on her life and choices before Alzheimer’s ravages her memory. Her caretaker is “B,” who is A at 52-years-old. The other major character is “C,” who is “A” and “B” and age 26 and is in A’s room on behalf of A’s attorney so she can sign some paperwork. While a lovely narrative does unfold, Three Tall Women reads more like poetry than a play script.

    The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? (2000)
    This pitch-black comedy is about a stately, upper-middle-class family whose liberal politics are pushed to the limits when Martin decides to leave his wife Stevie for his lover…a goat named Sylvia. It’s easily the only play about a man who marries a goat to ever win the Tony Award for Best Play or be named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

    What is your favorite play by Edward Albee?

    The post Remembering Edward Albee: 5 Plays to Read Now appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Rebecca Jane Stokes 7:00 pm on 2014/07/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , i capture the castle, , , , , louisa may alcotte, , , revolutionary road, richard yates, , , the host, , , who's afraid of virginia woolf,   

    10 Characters Who Ended Up With The Wrong People 

    Little Women

    Very often we turn to books for the satisfaction of a love story well told. If it’s done right, we get all swoony, clutch the tomes to our winsome bosoms (or winsome pectorals, as the case may be), and sigh over the perfection and delicious unreality of a fictional love affair. I may really dig a dude in a real life, but him spontaneously being all Edward Fairfax Rochester and telling me about an invisible cord connecting our ribs is, I can almost guarantee, never going to happen.

    To that end, I’ve always had a soft spot for books where the “perfect love story” doesn’t turn out to be so perfect after all. I know I’m not alone in this. Every reader gets a wonderful shiver of schadenfreude each time a pairing between characters goes south and goes south HARD. Here are 10 characters who ended up with absolutely the wrong people:

    1. Jo March and Professor Bhaer (Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott)
    Okay, I can feel the masses ready to string me up on high for this one, but I’m standing by it. Oh sure, Jo and the Professor are a sweet, modern couple and I kind of dig them, and everybody knows accents are sexy, but none of this matters because LAURIE. He loved Jo most of his life, and you know the feeling was mutual. That said, while I always wanted to be a Jo, I am probably closer to being an Amy, so I guess I should be grateful.

    2. Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
    A girl’s gotta eat, BUT AT WHAT COST? Marriage to a pompous, socially climbing, sniveling parson = not worth it. I want an alternative version of P&P where Charlotte takes up a life walking the streets of London solving crimes while deep undercover as a prostitute. It would be all about female empowerment and also Jack the Ripper.

    3. Cassandra Mortmain (I Capture The Castle, by Dodie Smith)
    To be fair, there’s something admirable and noble and sweet and real about our narrator Cassandra ending up on her own and learning that a broken heart doesn’t mean the end of love altogether. Still, when a good chunk of a novel has been dedicated to Cassandra falling for her sister’s then-fiance, you can’t help but feel slightly cheated by the ending.

    4. Harry, Hermione, and Ron (The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling) 
    I tend to be a Hermione and Ron apologist, but if even J. K. Rowling admits that it should have been Harry and Hermione, then who are we mere plebes to argue with her wisdom?

    5. Frank and April Wheeler (Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates)
    Frank and April Wheeler’s totally borked dynamic eventually leads to disasters we won’t discuss here, because spoilers. Frank and April clearly weren’t meant to be together, or if they were, the timing was off and the repressive culture of the age shot their union in the foot before it even had a chance to trot. One could argue that without their cataclysmic pairing the book wouldn’t exist, to which I respond: DON’T CARE TOO DEPRESSING.

    6. Romeo and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare)
    They literally die because they are mad at their parents. Are they smitten with each other? Totally. But are they also infants with poor impulse control? Oh very much so.

    7. George and Martha: (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee)
    Just a word of wisdom for the collected masses reading this post—if you and your partner both have significant drinking problems and a shared semi-delusion of a child, it’s best to get out before one of you starts breaking the furniture, you dig?

    8. Charles and Camilla (The Secret History, by Donna Tartt)
    Fraternal twins Charles and Camilla take a beyond warped page from George R.R. Martin’s books when it comes to how twins feel about each other. In their pants. No, just…no.

    9. Lolita and Humbert: (Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov)
    I have one word for you, and it rhymes with shmedophilia. Also, everybody dies. *Drops mic, walks away, sassy and triumphant*

    10. Wanda and Ian: (The Host, by Stephenie Meyer)
    Look, I get that love is about more than just the physical body, but the body is a big part of it—especially at first. So forgive me if I give Wanda and Ian the side-eye. We get it Wanda, your love for Ian surpasses the physical. Doesn’t erase the fact that you are making out with him using basically a corpse’s mouth. Barf.

    What fictional characters do you think ended up with the wrong people?

     
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