Serial Monogamy

Serial Monogamy

Book - 2016
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When Sharon learns that her husband Al is having an affair with one of his students, her life is sent into turmoil, and the couple decides to split. But when Sharon is diagnosed with cancer, she and Al are brought together once again. Meanwhile, in an interwoven thread, we meet Nelly, a young, beautiful 19th century woman with ties to the theatre. Magnetized toward the incomparable Charles Dickens, Nelly becomes his secret mistress. But soon, she will learn the cost of her captivity and the limits she has placed on her own life.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780385685627
Characteristics: 345 pages ;,22 cm.

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wendybird Apr 28, 2017

Truthfully, the things that first made me pick up this book are not ones librarians admit to being tempted by. The first thing – the book jacket, with its large and small, colourful glass marbles and clean, capitalized aqua typeface – made me pause and reach for it. The second thing – my recognition of the author’s name, Kate Taylor – also a favorite arts writer at The Globe and Mail – made me flip through it and then decide to read it.
The main story line follows this thread: a young married woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, while simultaneously trying to resurrect her fading marriage and kick start her post-baby career. At first glance, the plot isn’t far away from the typical Netflix fare or visitors on the Oprah book circuit. But this book is just different enough that it will should catch and delight an intrepid (although probably female) reader’s attention.
I like the protagonist, Sharon. She’s funny, self-deprecating, but also clear thinking, talented and brave. And, boy, did she (or, actually, author Kate Taylor) spin one heck of a good Victorian tale to frame and solidify Sharon’s twenty-first century struggles. There were times I couldn’t decide which story (or narrator) I preferred: the Dickensian “Nelly”, or the modern mom / reporter, Sharon. Normally, I don’t like moving from one narrator as a novel unfolds, here it fits and amplifies the story. Spoiler alert, though: there are actually 4 narrators by Serial monogamy’s final page, but the final two are minor and help to pack it all together.
Fans of well written novels with believable characters working to make sense of their world particular world (with all its beauties and challenges) will appreciate this Toronto-set book.

CD_Librarian Apr 11, 2017

This is a very well-written story balancing a contemporary tale of marriage and sickness with that of Dickens and the love of his later years, Nell Ternan. Kate Taylor really captures the times both modern and Victorian. It's an excellent read for those who have been enjoying fictional books about real people, Like Vanessa and Her Sister, The Paris Wife or The Aviator's Wife.

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