Context: The second book I finished while we were staying in Port Vila, Vanuatu
Not read any Cunningham since The Hours waaaay back at review #0057 in September 2007. I enjoyed that and I enjoyed this too.
Written as viewpoints rotate chapter by chapter with each of four major characters, this is a novel about relationships. It focusses on how they form, how we define family, sexuality and roles within them and it results in the decisions we make for ourselves as a result of them. That’s pretty much what I took from the book.
I found it intriguing to see the experimental family that forms as a result of each of the three main characters pursuing a quest for liberation within relationships. This ends, kind of predictably, in going not so well for a couple of them. But it does result in a family being created for those that either never had one or those that are emotionally estranged from them. For one character in particular, this is important as his life draws to a close.
On the whole, the characters were pretty complex and I appreciated this reminder of how difficult each of us is to pin down. I thought the novel was pretty honest for its look at what happens when we a self-sacrificing to the point of self-harm. Cunningham also seems to be truthful in depicting relationships that are messy despite their liberality.
I don’t think this is a vastly important book but it is a reasonable read and I enjoyed meeting the characters he created.
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