“Monogamy” is an exploration of marriage, family and friendship. Sometimes the people in those relationships are happy and sometimes, apparently most of the time, they are misunderstood and unknowable.
Annie has been divorced for about seven years when she meets Graham at the opening of his bookstore. Graham too is divorced, from Frieda, with whom he has a son, Lucas. Annie is petite and attractive while Graham is a big man with an apparent hunger for life and all it offers. As the two of them begin a life together, “she felt overwhelmed sometimes—by Graham’s size, by his energy, his appetite for people, for music, for food.” Annie is concerned she will lose herself in her life with him.
Annie is a photographer and had some success with shows of her work. Her second successful show had been a series of photographs taken of her mother over the years that recorded shifts in her face and carriage as she descended into Alzheimer’s disease. The public display of the photographs created a rift with her siblings. As a result, and in order to take care of her daughter, Sarah, she pulls back from her career. Sarah is described as a large, awkward and miserable child.
Graham’s marriage with Frieda had ended due to his many infidelities. However, they remain close friends and Annie and Frieda also become close friends. Lucas spends a lot of time with Annie and Graham and Sarah spends time with Frieda. They are in many ways (but certainly not all ways) a combined family. A portion of the book describes Sarah and Lucas as adults (both likeable and successful).
Graham and Annie’s next door neighbor, Karen is a single elderly woman with dementia. She moves in and out of the story. There are a variety of other people who move in and out of the story, but with a couple of exceptions, none of them are notable or memorable.
At the age of 65, and unexpectedly, Graham dies in his sleep. At a celebration of Graham’s life, Annie discovers that Graham has been unfaithful to her and that Frieda knew about his infidelity. This portion of the book is dedicated to her anger.
We are given glimpses into the lives of Sarah and Lucas and a glimpse into Frieda’s life. The book focuses on marriage, infidelity, grief, anger and relationships, and the difference between how we view the lives of others and their actual lives.
The book is well written but I found it dull, unpleasant and trite. The author is well regarded but if you have a stack of books at home awaiting your attention I would not add this to that! That said, if you find that doing the opposite of what is suggested is your raison d’etre, you can reserve this book at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.