A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias


I’ve been fortunate this summer to spend time in beautiful places with great libraries.  One of the best reads of my summer was A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias.  A Happy Marriage is a biographical novel about Yglesias’ own marriage.  He tells the story of life with his late wife, Margaret, in a sequence that alternates between the first three weeks of their first meeting, and the last three weeks before his wife’s death.  Yglesias does not hold back in his revelations about the nature of his love for his wife, which is at times cruel or absent, and at other times expansive and redemptive.  As his wife nears her final days, he struggles and ultimately fails to articulate his love to her.  But Margaret is expressive to the end.  “She had made certain to say good-bye, an eloquent good-bye.  She had managed to tell him, despite all the obstacles nature and the human world had put in their way, that her love and his love had survived.”  (p. 368). 

Yglesias gave a wonderful interview on Fresh Air, addressing his life as a writer and the son of two writers.  He notes that “it is true that if you come from a family of writers, you understand that there is always an assassin in the family.” He knows that he included stories in the novel that would have enraged his wife.  A Happy Marriage is a compelling glimpse into the heart of a man struggling to create, care for, and let go of his thirty-year marriage.

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