Booklist Reviews 2011 November #1
*Starred Review* A more or less spare novel from what we have come to anticipate as the verbally generous O'Nan is still a gift. While setting aside his customary interest in rich detail, he arrives here at a pin-sharp narrative that, importantly, retains his natural empathy for people worn nearly raw by life's cares. Even this potentially bleak story about a middle-aged couple's declining marriage—with all the relationship's fibers and filaments under obvious strain—is warmed to a palatable temperature by O'Nan's sensitivity. The novel opens with an alarming phrase: "This final weekend of their marriage . . ." Both dexterity and understanding are required for a writer to pull a story up from such an apparent page-one nosedive. We get the backstory quickly: Art and Marion are spending Valentine's weekend at Niagara Falls, where they honeymooned three decades ago. Their finances and marriage are in ruins. Frequent shifts in point of view emphasize the difference in Art's and Marion's current thinking: Art hoping for reconciliation, Marion accepting what's what. How O'Nan saves his story from debilitating darkness or cringing sentimentality presents an impressive reading experience. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Author tour, considerable review attention, and a national radio campaign round out publicity measures. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2011 September #1
Art and Marion Fowler are jobless and facing foreclosure, even as their marriage teeters on the brink. So what do they do? Head to Niagara Falls, book the bridal suite at the area's fanciest casino, and risk all at the roulette wheel. Another from the beloved O'Nan, who so sensitively makes the everyday hurts of everyday people real and important. This book will resonate profoundly in today's strapped environment; great for book clubs.[Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2011 November #1
Their 30-year marriage stressed to the breaking point by financial troubles and infidelity, Art and Marion Fowler take one last trip together, to Niagara Falls, the site of their honeymoon, to make a desperate gamble with their remaining money and perhaps save their marriage. In this spare and engaging novel, O'Nan (Snow Angels) deftly interweaves the perspectives and memories of husband and wife, drawing a believable portrait of a long marriage, with its private jokes and rituals intermingling with half-buried resentments and miscommunications. Some incidents, particularly Marion's brief affair with a woman, could have been more fleshed out to give readers a better handle on the characters and what has kept them together. VERDICT Readers of contemporary literary fiction should enjoy the subtle dry humor and a story that gains momentum and pitches toward a satisfying, if somewhat ambiguous happy ending. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/11.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis[Page 73]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews Newsletter
This turns out not to be Viking's hotly anticipated sequel to The Odd Couple, featuring superdudes Oscar Madison and Felix Unger*. Nope, this quiet little book would be nice, even tranquil, except for the riptide of discomfort, surliness, bloat, and subdural unpleasantness perhaps reminiscent of a certain time of the month for female readers. The scant plot follows a sad-sack husband and a sourpuss wife on the brink of (choose one): a) divorce; b) bankruptcy; c) one last spending binge in Niagara Falls; d) all of the above. It's good, but sad. Dudes will recognize themselves in Art's small gestures: "He met her when she stood, and kissed her, holding her shoulders, rubbed the tops of her arms as if she were cold." But Marion is aloof and needs to quit having a cow while listening to Art sing in the shower: "As he did the solos, ridiculously impersonating the various instruments, she lay there listening, clicker in her lap, not understanding how he could be that oblivious, and that happy, both of which, she thought, were at least partly her fault." She must read Proust. - "Books For Dudes " LJ Reviews 3/1/2012 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2011 October #1
Marion and Art, on the brink of divorce and bankruptcy, head back to Niagara Falls, where they spent their honeymoon decades earlier. This compact novel unfolds over Valentine's Day weekend, culminating with the couple's determination to gamble what money they have left at the roulette wheel in the hotel casino. Taking the metaphor for all its worth and then some, the two risk "throwing away their savings chasing the high not of money but of sheer possibility." At his best, O'Nan (Emily, Alone) nails the persistence of betrayal long after wrongs have actually been committed; their desperation has become as routine as ordering dinner. The kitsch of the falls is effectively rendered, though the plot eventually devolves toward cliché, perhaps inevitably in the trappings of the setting. Rooting for the couple becomes more of a challenge once the language begins to feel as predictable as the Maid of the Mist ride. Learning that "he was more comfortable with the rose as the badge of their love, being both natural and ephemeral, than the ring, which seemed binding and permanent" doesn't so much explain Marion as reveal a dependency on symbolism that at times interrupts an otherwise tender tale of imperfection and commitment. (Jan.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC