The Forever MarriageThe brief reviews I read earlier in the year didn’t pique my interest in The Forever Marriage. But I so rarely walk into my little public library and find a recent release that I skimmed the first page . . . and was hooked.

We meet Carmen Garrett as she’s exulting in her husband Jobe’s untimely death from cancer. Of course, this first glimpse makes Carmen seem shallow and heartless, but we soon learn—in backward-looking chapters that alternate with the present day—that the story of her marriage is complicated both by her own inadequacies and Jobe’s. She’s motherless, suddenly poor, and directionless. He’s rich, a brilliant mathematician, and emotionally clueless.

Sounds like a pot-boiler, I know—one that might seem on the verge of bubbling over when I add that The Forever Marriage encompasses Carmen’s own treatment for breast cancer (she wonders: divine retribution?), a meddling mother-in-law, a scorching extramarital affair, a son with Down syndrome, a lesbian best friend, teen romance, a mathematical puzzle on the brink of being solved, and Jobe’s ghost.

Yet Ann Bauer has written a contemporary story that surprised me with its humor, truthfulness, and essential kindness. I’m glad I gave it a second look.

While writing this post, I found Bauer’s blog. Coincidentally, today’s entry details her decision to return to writing advertising copy, a more lucrative gig (at least for her: six figures) than being a full-time creative writer, even a successful one. Makes me appreciate my day job as a web editor a little more…