Sunday, 23 June 2019

Modern Love

Earlier this month Tayari Jones won the prestigious Women's Prize for fiction for her stunning novel An American Marriage (2018). I cheered aloud when Jones won, as I had just finished reading this remarkable novel while on holidays in Morocco.

An American Marriage is the story of newlyweds Celestial and Roy. He is an ambitious businessman, keen to be successful and ready to start a family. She us a talented artist who is wants to focus on her career and build her doll-making business. Barely a year into their marriage they are still navigating their lives together when tragedy strikes, and a miscarriage of justice sees Roy incarcerated. Both have to adjust to their new circumstances and thwarted ambition. Will their love survive his sentence?

Told in alternating points of view, often through letters to each other, Jones has crafted truly memorable and realistic characters.  This is the story of how people cope with change, the expectations on relationships, and the nature of love. An American Marriage is also a damning indictment on the American judicial system and the deep racism that pervades all aspects of society. As the Women's Prize judges claimed, Jones 'shines a light on today's America'.

Heartbreaking and beautiful, this novel will stay with me for a long time and I suspect will end up on my list of favourite reads in 2019.  Highly recommended for anyone interested in a moving, intimate, character-driven story.