STARRED REVIEW
February 2020

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

STARRED REVIEW

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

February 2020
STARRED REVIEW
February 2020

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

February 2020
STARRED REVIEW
February 2020

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

STARRED REVIEW
February 2020

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

February 2020

Book Clubs: Matters of the heart

Share this Article:

Recommending four stellar book club reads that focus on the complications of love.


Lauren Groff’s electrifying, acclaimed novel Fates and Furies chronicles the vagaries of romantic passion through would-be actor Lotto and elusive Mathilde—a picture-perfect pair who meet in college and marry young. Through sections told from the perspective of each partner, the novel tracks the ups and downs of their 24-year union, and the two narratives powerfully play off each other. Mathilde’s secrets will surprise readers, and the book has a headlong momentum that suits its subject matter. From start to finish, it’s a thrilling look at the risks and rewards of love.

Mary Parsons, in debt and contending with health problems, is hired as part of actor Kurt Sky’s Girlfriend Experiment in The Answers, by novelist Catherine Lacey. Kurt aims to find a formula for the ideal romantic relationship, so he partners with women who have been prompted to display certain traits, such as Maternal Girlfriend and—in Mary’s case—Emotional Girlfriend. Mary is soon swept up in Kurt’s strange drama, and the narrative that unfolds is a disquieting and provocative exploration of the logistics of love.

Ian McEwan’s novel The Children Act tells the story of Fiona Maye, a respected judge coping with both a failing marriage and a difficult legal case. Nearly 60, Fiona finds herself at odds with her unfaithful husband while she grapples with a judgment involving a young Jehovah’s Witness, who, by forgoing medical treatment because of his religion, may die. This thorny ethical dilemma will provide fodder for book club debate. McEwan’s portrait of Fiona—an assured, confident figure who hides her vulnerability all too well—is wonderfully complex, and he presents a sensitive portrayal of a marriage that has reached its last chapter.

Poet Maggie Nelson reflects on gender, love and the nature of modern marriage in her remarkable memoir The Argonauts. Nelson, who is married to the transgender artist Harry Dodge, writes with candor about her experiences as a partner and new mother. Chronicling Dodge’s testosterone treatments and the process of her pregnancy (which involved in vitro fertilization), Nelson reflects on the changes in her understanding of partnership and the meaning of family. Rich in ideas, her book is a fascinating excavation of matters of the heart.


A BookPage reviewer since 2003, Julie Hale selects the best new paperback releases for book clubs every month.

The Argonauts
By Maggie Nelson
Graywolf

ISBN 9781555977351

Get the Books

Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies

By Lauren Groff
Riverhead
ISBN 9781594634475
The Answers

The Answers

By Catherine Lacey
FSG
ISBN 9780374100261
The Children Act

The Children Act

By Ian McEwan
Nan A. Talese
ISBN 9780385539708
The Argonauts

The Argonauts

Graywolf
ISBN 9781555977351

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Recent Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!