Sunday, August 10, 2014

Book Review: Private Life by Jane Smiley

This book made me wonder what would have happened if the stage was set at a different time.

I couldn't help but root for the main character of this book, Margaret Mayfield, but often wished she had lived in a different decade so that she could have had more control over her own destiny rather than be a captive audience to everything that was going on around her.

Margaret is an intelligent young woman she is still single and destined to be a spinster old maid in her mid twenties. Her strong minded mother has other ideas and sets on a quest to get her married, as she has done for her other daughters. Through a series of events, Margaret marries a man that she perceives to be a brilliant scientist who works at the naval base in San Francisco. Margaret becomes Andrew's support in every way, cleaning and cooking, transporting and transcribing his papers. Her husband's eccentric ways become stranger as life goes on.

Throughout the book we take a journey with Margaret from a young girl with the world ahead of her and a little bit of daring to do the unconventional, to a woman who realizes the man she married was not exactly what he seemed and she has no choice to continue to stand beside  him as his support.

This book made me sad for Margaret and the understanding that marriage was a convention at that time that was often considered more important than any individual's hopes, dreams or ambitions, or feelings of love.

This book is beautifully written and very interesting, albeit sad.

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