two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
20-Jan-Feb-2006
By: 
Alison Lurie
user_rating: 
0

A-TruthConsequencesAfter 16 years of marriage, Jane no longer recognizes her husband Alan. Afflicted by debilitating back pain and ensuing depression, he’s a crumpled, needy wreck of a man. He still attends to his duties as architecture professor at Corinth (or Cornell) University, and it’s there that he rubs elbows (and more) with devilish "womanist" poetess Delia Delaney. Meanwhile, Jane, who at first babies Alan, finds herself fighting an incredible crush on Delia’s sensitive (and hunky) husband Henry.
Viking. 232 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0670034398

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"Truth and Consequences is a brilliant romp through the complex relationships of academics and their spouses. … Lurie has created a novel that both pokes fun and commiserates with her characters, a tough feat and a wonderful read." Ashley Simpson Shires

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There’s something flippant, even shallow, about Lurie’s treatment of the very real problems of physical pain and disability. … Though Lurie may lack the profundity of [Jane] Austen and [Barbara] Pym—and the social and intellectual acuity of her fellow American satirist Mary McCarthy—she is nonetheless a writer well worth cherishing for giving us novels that are as gracefully edifying as they are incontrovertibly entertaining." Merle Rubin

Boston Globe 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Ultimately, the characters are so slight that who leaves whom, when, and for whom don’t really matter, and the satiric potential, so ripe at the outset, never develops into anything much more than a one-note shot at an easy target." Julie Wittes Schlack

New York Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"[T]he story motors along smoothly on sheer professional craft. The result isn’t a terribly original or memorable novel, but a pleasant enough read nonetheless." Michiko Kakutani

Miami Herald 2 of 5 Stars
"Though more than a few scenes bear proof of the author’s glittering sharp edge, the book lacks the filigreed finesse of [her] earlier works as Foreign Affairs or The Truth About Lorin Jones." Ellen Kanner

San Francisco Chronicle 1.5 of 5 Stars
"Truth and Consequences is not Lurie at her best: It is Lurie at her most repetitive and least subtle." Heller McAlpin

Critical Summary

The Miami Herald sums up critical reception best: "Truth and Consequences isn’t art. It isn’t even vintage Lurie. It’s a good copy, but for an author this deliciously sly and nimble, that’s not quite good enough." The Pulitzer Prize–winning author seems to be repeating herself here, and not always in a fresh or exciting way. Worse, a few critics accuse her of not caring about her central couple, making it doubly hard for readers to care who ends up with whom. Still, you can’t miss flashes of Lurie’s brilliance. And a case could be made for her spot-on skewering of the tension between artistic egos and their bossy caregivers.

Also by the Author

Foreign Affairs (1984): Award Star Pulitzer Prize. Lurie offers a touch of academic life far from campus. Two Ivy League professors, a younger man and an older woman, travel to London on separate research projects. Each has a romance while overseas, one juxtaposed against the other.