The Group

Christine Smallwood writes:

In novels, a marriage is not only the place where comedy ends: it is also the place where tragedy begins. The wedding of Lil Roth, the opening act of Joanna Smith Rakoff’s A Fortunate Age, is followed by a lame attempt at spousal murder-by-scissors, a brief stay in a Manhattan mental institution, and Lil’s freak death after a bad case of flu. Lil hadn’t even planned to get married. At her college-sponsored commencement brunch she’d told her parents of her opposition to the ‘outmoded institution’. Her stand was dismissed by the company as naivety and, Moët clouding her mind and dribbling down her dress, she couldn’t think of an impressive intellectual backer, settling for the support of ‘any modern thinker’.

(LRB 11 February 2010)