Quote Of The Day: Complicated and Unexpected

Quote Of The Day #46

Alan and Jane had a perfect marriage–he’s a professor, architect, and writer in a university in upstate New York while she’s a capable senior administrator in the same place. One day Alan played sports with his students twenty years his junior, fell to the ground, and hurt his back. At first it was thought he would get better soon, but it didn’t. Every day, Alan was immersed in pain killers. Most of the time he had to lie down as he couldn’t stand for more than 15 minutes at a time. The illness dragged on for a year and had no end in sight.

Alan’s relationship with his wife Jane was getting worse and worse for obvious reasons–he demanded care like a child and she was getting tired of it all. Just as things were getting very bleak, a couple arrived at the university–Henry and his wife Delia. Henry was a free lance editor while his wife Delia had a one-year fellowship for her writing at the university–she’s from the American south and she wrote well known novels about southern life. The couple exerted profound influences on Alan and Jane, who felt that their long held concepts, values, views, ideals were put on trial.

This is “Truth And Consequences” by Alison Lurie, first published in 2005. Although the book is not as exciting as “The War Between The Tates”, it explores the relationship between men and women, the expectations people have, the choices people make. And the topic has always fascinated me.

In addition it also explores the influence our friends have on us. Our friends often have serious impact on our life, not only in the important area of love, family, career choice, but also in things as trivial as exercises and food intake etc.

And finally I didn’t expect this, but I have the same observation and I totally concur with what the author says on the topic. The book also talks about the two marriages, in which two creative persons become somehow childlike in their life; their spouses feel that they become practically caregivers and don’t really like it. I read about such marriages of painters, writers, performers etc., mostly describing the positive aspects of it. However the book explores both sides of the story and describes two conflicting views, both valid, both with merits, both eliciting sympathy from us…

There are not as many quotable lines as in her other books, but those I highlighted are still very insightful:

“Maybe the most awful thing about it all was that she wasn’t a good person anymore. All her life, ever since she was a seven-year-old at Sunday school, it had been Jane’s secret plan to be good…. She had never confided this ambition to anyone–to do so would have been to invite ridicule and possibly retribution.”

“Until last May, it had been easy to be good–maybe too easy. Occasionally in the past, Jane had felt her virtue untested…. But now she was tired to be wonderful, and her husband Alan, she suspected, was tired to be grateful. As time passed, her virtue had failed.”

“She never said this, never even hinted it, but he assumed that she was angry and full of despair. And the fact that she would not admit this somehow made him angrier, at her dishonesty.”

“Alan had always had many friends, maybe he still did, but he didn’t want to see any of them. Once it became clear that his back wasn’t going to get better soon, they had begun to treat him in an awkward uneasy manner as if he had joined a cult or been convicted of some embarrassing felony… Even his best friends didn’t treat him the same as they once had. They were solicitous, but formal and uneasy, glad to see him but gladder to leave.”

“Was he being punished, and if so for what? His life had not been blameless, but he had never been guilty of murder or plagiarism, never cheated on his taxes. He had not stolen anything since sixth grade, and it was years since he had committed adultery.”

10 thoughts on “Quote Of The Day: Complicated and Unexpected

  1. The book sounds very interesting. I find the relationship between men and women quite fascinating since their stereotypical roles are so different and often dictated by the patriarchy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tell me about it. When I was growing up, I was often terrified to say something unwittingly and set off another round of argument at home. The only good thing out of it is that I often hear complaints from both sides. And at the time, I sometimes wondered why my schoolmates knew nothing or didn’t care about the two competing forces at home while I knew so much about it and had to care so much in case…. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha I had a very similar experience where I was pretty much walking on eggshells to make sure no one started fighting. It’s tough growing up like that but it makes you a very good unbiased observer.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So true. Every family has a crazy dynamic–well every place we live in, and every relationship we are in have its own quirkiness that binds us together while plague us forever.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. I haven’t read many novels about close relationships over recent years, but your quotes make me think I am maybe missing out on something. That and the fact that I have just finished reading “The Slap” by Christos Tsiolkas – which deals with many relationships. In some ways “The Slap” reminds me of what you do in some of your writing because it looks at things from the slant of a particular community (in Tsiolkas’s case, the Greek community in Australia). The problem with Tsiolkas is that I can’t believe that there are people who talk to each other in the way that his characters talk to each other. Maybe I’ve led a sheltered life! The characters in your quotes sound more like the kind of people I can relate to.


  3. Illness and disease changes people. It’s hard on relationships and true friends are revealed in those circumstances. Great review! Is the pic yours? Cause I like the highlighted sentences in the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the praise. Yes, a family, or any relationship really, can be affected by illness or an unlucky event. I am still reading it and I somehow feel that it will be a happy ending somehow. Yes, the picture is mine and the book is second hand, which explains its wilted color, but I did an orange highlight to cheer it up. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

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