This is a beautiful book with a lovely pace. It follows the life of a marriage and the creative life of those individuals in the marriage. It shows the consequences when those in the marriage become stuck emotionally and creatively. It also shows how the expectations of others can weigh us down, but they can also lift us up.
The book has a distinctive masculine voice, but it is the voice of a man who longs for connection and is open and mature about his emotional life. I have read a few books about the masculine emotional experience and if the writing is good, I always find the story full of a gentle humanity. It is touching reading this type of story. It is like I am privy to a world that is at once alien and familiar all at the same time and full of beauty. And I can assure you, Miller's writing is very good.
While at times I despaired for Alex because of what Lena put him through, I never disliked her. Miller always allowed the reader a view into her reality, so it wasn't as if I was being recruited to 'team Robert' rather than 'team Lena'. I always felt a great sense of compassion for her. The characters that Miller draws are full-bodied with a real-life mix of virtues and faults.
This book is about how the lives of people who love each other, but have difficulty sustaining a relationship that society expects them to have, become enmeshed in each other's world, still manage to sustain each other and navigate their way to the type of relationship they should truly have. This navigation is sign posted by their discovery of their own individual creative processes. For me, their uncovering of their authentic emotional life is mirrored by their understanding of how the creative process moves within and without them. And it is in this journey that the passage of love is revealed.
If you want a grown-up book about the trajectory of a relationship told from the perspective of one person, but that authentically takes into account every significant person in the relationship throughout their life, then this is the book for you.