Matrimony

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

It is 1987, and Julian Wainwright, aspiring writer and Waspy son of New York City old money, meets beautiful, Jewish Mia Mendelsohn in the laundry room at Graymont College. So begins a love affair that, spurred on by family tragedy, will take Julian and Mia across the country and back, through several college towns, spanning twenty years.

From the moment he was born, Julian Wainwright has lived a life of Waspy privilege. The son of a Yale-educated investment banker, he grew up in a huge apartment on Sutton Place, high above the East River, and attended a tony Manhattan private school. Yet, more than anything, he wants to get out--out from under his parents' influence, off to Graymont College, in western Massachusetts, where he hopes to become a writer.

When he arrives, in the fall of 1986, Julian meets Carter Heinz, a scholarship student from California with whom he develops a strong but ambivalent friendship. Carter's mother, desperate to save money for his college education, used to buy him reversible clothing, figuring she was getting two items for the price of one. Now, spending time with Julian, Carter seethes with resentment. He swears he will grow up to be wealthy--wealthier, even, than Julian himself.

Then, one day, flipping through the college facebook, Julian and Carter see a photo of Mia Mendelsohn. Mia from Montreal, they call her. Beautiful, Jewish, the daughter of a physics professor at McGill, Mia is--Julian and Carter agree--dreamy, urbane, stylish, refined.

But Julian gets to Mia first, meeting her by chance in the college laundry room. Soon they begin a love affair that--spurred on by family tragedy--will carry them to graduation and beyond, taking them through several college towns, spanning twenty years. But when Carter reappears, working for an Internet company in California, he throws everyone's life into turmoil: Julian's, Mia's, his own.

Starting at the height of the Reagan era and ending in the new millennium, Matrimony is about love and friendship, about money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith. It asks what happens to a marriage when it is confronted by betrayal and the specter of mortality. What happens when people marry younger than they'd expected? Can love endure the passing of time?

In its emotional honesty, its luminous prose, its generosity and wry wit, Matrimony is a beautifully detailed portrait of what it means to share a life with someone--to do so when you're young, and to try again, afresh, on the brink of middle age.

News

  • The New York Times on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Mr. Henkin writes with a winningly anachronistic absence of showiness.... This is just a lifelike, likable book populated by three-dimensional characters who make themselves very much at home on the page."
    --Janet Maslin, New York Times

  • Booklist on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "[Henkin] builds a deeply affecting portrait of a marriage, tracing its evolution over the course of 20 years.... In this heartfelt homage to the risks and rewards of marriage, Henkin never artificially amps up his material, instead allowing the quiet accumulation of his characters' shared experiences to create for his readers a world they will recognize and relate to."
    --Booklist

  • People Magazine on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "[A] charming novel ... Henkin keeps you reading with original characters, witty dialogue and a view that marriage, for all its flaws, is worth the trouble."
    --Tom Fields-Meyer, People

  • Kirkus on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Radiates the kind of offbeat shoulder-shrugging charm that made Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh so memorable.... [Matrimony] gets to you and stays with you."
    --Kirkus Reviews

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "In this classically composed second novel of a couple who meet and fall in love at their liberal arts college in the Berkshires, Henkin, much praised for Swimming Across the Hudson (1997), sensitively examines the 15 years of love and marriage that follow."
    --Carlin Romano, The Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Library Journal on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Takes a good look at love, friendship, and marriage from the Reagan years to the new century."
    --Library Journal

  • Bookreporter on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Henkin movingly explores marriage, friendship, and the many ways we love and hurt each other.... Poignant.... Readers who loved Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety will find echoes [in Matrimony.]"
    --Cindy Crosby, Bookreporter

  • Small Spiral Notebook on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "[Henkin" is able to explore in depth a surprisingly wide array of issues universal to the experiences of marriage.... It is a testament to Matrimony's redemptive power that at the end of the novel, despite all the difficulties the characters face, the reader might still want to get, or stay, married."
    --Adam Goldwyn, Small Spiral Notebook

  • Dani Shapiro on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Joshua Henkin has written a powerfully moving book about so many of the big things: romantic love, abiding friendship, commitment, betrayal, loss, hope, regret. Matrimony is a novel at once sprawling and economical -- an elegant excavation of the human spirit."
    --Dani Shapiro, author of Black and White

  • Brian Morton on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Joshua Henkin's Matrimony is a deliciously old-fashioned novel. With no gimmicks, no tricks, Henkin gives us a cast of complex, flawed, utterly real characters, exploring their inner lives with an astonishing sureness of touch. Beautifully written and deeply felt, Matrimony is a miracle of intelligence and heart."
    --Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening

  • Joan Silber on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "With vibrant intelligence, Matrimony looks at the mystery of how a couple stays together and the ways even the most privileged among us are subject to the disasters wrought by our incalculable natures. A luminous tale, eloquently told."
    --Joan Silber, author of National Book Award Finalist Ideas of Heaven

  • Stacey D'Erasmo on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "The rich rewards of dailyness, the complexity of ordinary human connection, the unexpected ways that love endures, and the frequently hilarious ironies of modern life are on full display in this warm-hearted, clear-eyed novel. Henkin's portrait of a marriage is a portrait of us all."
    --Stacey D'Erasmo, author of Tea

  • The Washington Post on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "Truly an up-all-night read."
    --Adriana Leshko, The Washington Post

  • Michael Cunningham on Matrimony

    January 26, 2012

    "In the tradition of John Cheever and Richard Yates, a devastating novel about love, hope, delusion, and the intricate ways in which time's passage raises us up even as it grinds us down. It's a beautiful book. Here's to its brilliant future."
    --Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of The Hours.

  • Matrimony Giveaway

    May 10, 2010

    There's a Matrimony giveaway (of the book, not the institution) over on Getglue. Check it out.

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