By the author of the beloved Schmidt series, Memories of a Marriage is a penetrating look at class and privilege, shifting from Paris to Manhattan, Long Island to Newport. Mourning his wife and daughter, and on the edge of old age, Philip reencounters an astonishing woman from his past: Lucy De Bourgh, an heiress who was once a passionate debutante and the intimate of many men, including Philip himself. As she reveals the startling details of her failed marriage to Thomas Snow—a townie turned powerful international banker, liked by many but to her a loathsome monster—Philip discovers a story that will challenge his assumptions about those he has known, admired, and desired. A triumph by an author expert in revealing the good breeding and bad behavior of the moneyed elite, Memories of a Marriage is an eloquent and irresistible book that explores all the varieties of love and the very concept of truth.
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Praise for Memories of a Marriage
“Among contemporary novelists, [Begley] may be the wryest, most devastating critic of class in American society.”—The Washington Post
“Engrossing . . . Louis Begley gives us a chance to see into . . . the most private recesses of another couple’s marriage.”—The New York Times Book Review
“This delicious, dazzling novel about the rise and fall of a great American debutante kept me up all night.”—Susan Cheever
“A consummately constructed monument to human imperfection.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“[Begley is] an elegant stylist with a dry wit and a merciless eye.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A fiendishly clever, Fitzgeraldesque tale about marriage, friendship, gossip, and self-justification.”—Booklist
About Louis Begley
Louis Begley lives in New York City. His previous novels are Wartime Lies, The Man Who Was Late, As Max Saw It, About Schimdt, Mistler’s Exit, Schmidt Delivered, and Shipwreck.
"This delicious, dazzling novel about the rise and fall of a great American debutante kept me up all night. Begley knows everything about the secret lives of the American aristocracy, and he tells all." —Susan Cheever
"Absorbing ... [Begley] tells this tale with all the archness — and yearning — of a voyeur looking in ... His evocations of glistening mahogany in New York’s club rooms, of summering in the Hamptons, of oysters and whiting at the Paris Savoy have the clear ring of truth. He has observed the relevant mannerisms, and he garnishes his scenes with all the glee of a name-dropping arriviste ... Begley proves he is a master dissector of the American character. Among contemporary novelists, he may be the wryest, most devastating critic of class in American society ... Begley delivers a literary stiletto to what Tiffany or Crate & Barrel might blithely call 'the Gatsby set' ... Read it and weep." —Marie Arana, The Washington Post
"[E]ngrossing ... Begley gives us a chance to see into two different, often obscured worlds. One is the most private recesses of another couple’s marriage. The other is high-WASP society — though most people don’t usually even know where that particular unmarked door is, let alone get a chance to have it quietly shut in their faces ... The pleasures of this novel reside not so much in where the 'truth' lies as in its context. The world of the highly entitled at play and at work — seen traveling the globe over the decades, installing themselves in European hotels and joining exclusive men’s clubs and marrying into families made up of 'very much our kind of people' — remains irresistible." —Meg Wolitzer, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] consummately constructed monument to human imperfection." —San Francisco Chronicle
"In this compact, voyeuristic novel, Begley creates his latest larger-than-life character in the beguiling but sharp-tongued socialite Lucy De Bourgh ... Begley’s effortless storytelling will have readers...fascinated by Lucy and Phillips’s complex, tangled relationship." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A fiendishly clever, Fitzgeraldesque tale about marriage, friendship, gossip, and self-justification ... Begley, marvelously droll and possessed of a rapier wit, revels in his mercurial characters, intricate psychological puzzles, unreliable memories, counterintuitive class divisions, and all the mysteries and miseries of lust and love."—Booklist
"Sharply observed and subtly nuanced ... It could pass as a novel from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s later decades, if Fitzgerald had lived so long."—Kirkus Reviews
From the Hardcover edition.