Book Quote:

“The modern marriage has two states, plateau and precipice, and in the winter of our recent crisis – with markets plummeting and even rich folks crying poor; with the dark reign of one tinsel president finally ending, and the promised hope of a new man about to start; yes, with hope rising like a cockamamie kite and fear more common than love – Charlie Pepper forgot his wife.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody  (MAR 23, 2011)

Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian is the story of a marriage. The novel takes place in the not far distant past, when Obama has recently been elected president and the markets have plummeted. Lena and Charlie have started their lives anew. Charlie was the head of surgery at Mass General Hospital. He has left this behind to move to San Francisco to start up a new company that specializes in medical robotics although this is not the best time to look for venture capitalists to fund his research.

Lena gave up a high-power job as a producer for national public television to move to San Francisco. She and Charlie have a precocious son, Theo, and Lena recently gave birth to twins, one of whom was stillborn. The surviving twin, Willa, is very, very fragile and suffers from seizures and multiple pneumonias. She is not yet one year old and taking care of her is a full-time job, one in which Lena is lucky enough to have help from a nanny. Once in San Francisco, Lena has told Charlie that she understands that for the next three years he will not have much time for her. However, she is not prepared for the distance that occurs between them. They used to have time to volunteer in Mbarra, take vacations together, and spend intimate time with one another. Now Charlie is rarely home. He travels around the world trying to get funding, giving demonstrations and working on research. They feel emotionally estranged from one another.

Lena made Charlie make one promise before they moved to San Francisco – that no matter what, he was not to accept any funding from her uncle Cal. Lena feels that Cal is responsible for her father’s death. Cal is one of the richest venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and shortly after they move there, he offers to fund Charlie’s company. Charlie is certainly in a predicament. With the market and real estate tanked, he has some serious ethical and pragmatic decisions to make. Finding funding now is like planting a delicate vineyard in a drought.

Cal and his wife Ivy are at the top of the food chain. They are so rich that Edgarian takes a page to describe the delicacies and chefs they employ to cater a party in celebration of their daughter’s engagement. Despite their wealth, they are not immune to tragedy. Shortly after they offer Charlie the money to fund his project, both Cal and Ivy are diagnosed with devastating diseases, ones in which they have to face their mortality.

Lena finds out that one of her previous beaus works for Cal. They are drawn together during the time that Charlie is away. Now Lena is faced with having to decide the fate of her marriage. She is exhausted and used up, awaiting that time when grace will befall her marriage. So far, she has just waited. Meanwhile, she has a seductive lover who is present and giving her all that Charlie is not.

This is an engaging novel, one in which the characters feel real and are accessible to the reader. The writing is intelligent and articulate. The novel reeled me in and I looked forward to reading this book. I recommend it to anyone who likes character-driven novels that reflect the reality that all people face in marriage – the ups, the downs and the in-betweens. Edgarian really gets it and she is able to communicate it very well.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 27 readers
PUBLISHER: Scribner (March 8, 2011)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Carol Edgarian
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: More marriage troubles:

Trouble by Kate Christiansen

Remedies by Kate Ledger



March 23, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: California, Character Driven, Contemporary

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