"[A] BRILLIANT, WITTY AND PROVOCATIVE NEW NOVEL."
--San Francisco Chronicle
As a young woman, the brilliant and eternally curious Magda Danvers took the academic world by storm. Then, to everyone's surprise, she married Francis Lake, a mild, midwestern seminarian, who has devoted his life to taking care of his charismatic wife. Now, Magda's grave illness puts their marriage to its ultimate test.
Though facing her "Final Examination," Magda continues to arouse her visitors with compelling thoughts and questions. Into this provocative atmosphere comes Alice Henry, retreating from family tragedy and a crumbling marriage to novelist Hugo Henry. But is it the incandescence of Magda's ideas that draws Alice, or the secret of "the good marriage" that she is desperate to discover? For Alice, Hugo, Francis, and Magda will learn that the most ideal relationship--even a perfect marriage--doesn't come without a price....
"COMPELLING WRITING...REMARKABLY SKILLFUL...Gail Godwin shows herself to be at the height of her considerable power as a storyteller and a writer."
--The Boston Globe
"ONE OF HER FINEST BOOKS...It is not only a well-written story, but a mature and wise one, affirmative in its vision of love, unblinking in its portrayal of tragic loss."
--Atlanta Journal & Constitution
"FASCINATING...[A] BIG SUMPTUOUS BOOK...HER BEST NOVEL."
"A BRILLIANTLY CRAFTED NOVEL, full of fun and mischief and resonating with wisdom and moral depth."
A Featured Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club