It's January, the stock market is shaky, and the Hollywood writer's strike is still dragging on, but Fresh Air's book critic says there's at least one piece of good news this month: Sue Miller has a new novel out.
It's called The Senator's Wife, and it's about two neighbors, one a new bride, the other the longtime wife of an unfaithful politician. Corrigan says fans of Miller's previous novels (including The Good Mother, While I Was Gone and Inventing the Abbotts) should give themselves a mid-winter treat and read it.
Book Tour is a Web feature and podcast. Each week, we present leading authors of fiction and nonfiction as they read from and discuss their work.
Since publishing her first novel, The Good Mother, more than two decades ago, Sue Miller has become one of the most celebrated chroniclers of family, marriage and friendship. In her new book, The Senator's Wife, she returns to what one reviewer calls Miller's "perennial theme [of] intimate betrayals." The book revolves around the marriages of two women who live side by side in a double New England townhouse, where the architecture is only one of the story's mirror images.
Miller is the author of nine works of fiction, including the bestselling While I Was Gone and Family Pictures. The Good Mother and her short story collection Inventing the Abbots were both made into movies. It's a process Miller says she doesn't like.
"As a writer," she says, "you imagine that changing one word will change the meaning of things. The idea of everyone participating in the structure of this film ... drove me crazy."
In 2003, she published her only book of nonfiction, a memoir about taking care of her father, who suffered from Alzheimer's. In its review, Publishers Weekly said that readers "need only have parents of their own to appreciate this testimony's dignity and grace." More recently, Miller was the guest editor of Best New American Voices 2007, a collection of works by the nation's emerging writing talents.
Miller says that she's drawn to writing about "tumult," adding, "the family in the last quarter century seems to me to be among the most fascinating social or economic inventions — more than business or real estate ... more than the church or the law or the hospital. It is, of course, open to and impinged on by all of those."
This reading of The Senator's Wife took place in January of 2008 at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C.