Katie Roiphe’s stimulating work has made her one of the most talked about cultural critics of her generation. Now this bracing young writer delves deeply into one of the most layered of subjects: marriage.
Drawn in part from the private memoirs, personal correspondence, and long-forgotten journals of the British literary community from 1910 to the Second World War, here are seven “marriages à la mode”—each rising to the challenge of intimate relations in more or less creative ways. Jane Wells, the wife of H.G., remained his rock, despite his decade-long relationship with Rebecca West (among others). Katherine Mansfield had an irresponsible, childlike romance with her husband, John Middleton Murry, that collapsed under the strain of real-life problems. Vera Brittain and George Gordon Catlin spent years in a “semidetached” marriage (he in America, she in England). Vanessa Bell maintained a complicated harmony with the painter Duncan Grant, whom she loved, and her husband, Clive. And her sister Virginia Woolf, herself no stranger to marital particularities, sustained a brilliant running commentary on the most intimate details of those around her.
In these portraits of marriage, Roiphe brilliantly evokes what are, as she says, “the fluctuations and shifts in attraction, the mysteries of lasting affection, the endurance and changes in love, and the role of friendship in marriage.”
Praise for Uncommon Arrangements:
"In this astute and engrossing examination of seven artsy marriages from 20th-century England, Roiphe couples her penchant for social criticism with her training in English literature."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Listen to the author's podcast episode.
Katie Roiphe received her Ph.D. from Princeton in English literature. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, Esquire, Vogue, Harper’s, and the New Yorker. Her previous books include The Morning After, Last Night in Paradise, and a novel, Still She Haunts Me. She lives in New York.