Throughout Lily Tuck’s wide-ranging and award-winning career, she has been praised by critics for her crisp, lean language and her sensuous explorations of exotic locales and complex psychologies. From Siam to Paraguay and beyond, Tuck inspires her readers to travel into unfamiliar realms. Her newest novel is no exception. In I Married You for Happiness, marriage, mathematics, and memory coalesce to create her most accessible, riveting, and deeply moving book yet.
“His hand is growing cold, still she holds it,” is how this story of a marriage begins. The tale unfolds over a single night, while Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Too shocked yet to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long marriage, beginning with their first meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician—it was a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love. As the reader is drawn through select memories—real and imagined—of events that occurred in places as distant and disparate as France, Wisconsin, Hong Kong, Mexico, and California, Tuck reveals the most private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys that shaped the lives of Nina and Philip.
Slender, powerful, and utterly engaging, I Married You for Happiness is not only a moving elegy to a man and a marriage, but also a meditation on the theory of probability and how chance can affect both a life and one’s consideration of the possibility of an afterlife.