I know. How romantic, right? I actually really love Valentine’s Day and consider myself an amorous person, but rather than post about the best couples in novels or most romantic books I wanted to pose a counterpoint to all the sugary sweetness. Relationships are complicated and nowhere is this more comprehensively explored than in novels. Here are three of my favourite books which deal with infidelity in a way that is intelligent and gives fully rounded points of view to all parties involved.
The Forgotten Waltz – Anne Enright
Without a doubt this is one of my favourite novels that I’ve read in the past few years. Enright has a sharp dry sense of humour and brilliantly gets at the raucous emotions surrounding infidelity. This novel is written from the perspective of the “other woman” as she comes to terms with the dynamics of her affair and the wedge she’s made between a father and his daughter. Her memories of passion come butting against the stark reality of her present. This novel is poetic, heart-wrenching and left me in tears.
The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton
Manners and decorum hide simmering passion. Nobody got this better than Wharton. Her prose delicately handle the growing emotion between a married man and the mysteriously oddball Countess. The reader can feel a strong sympathy for all the parties involved no matter how much you may want to cheer for Newland to leave his conventional wife for the woman he’s really drawn to. The novel itself has been somewhat eclipsed by the excellent Scorsese film but it’s well worth reading if you haven’t already.
The Painted Veil – W. Somerset Maugham
Maugham really knows how to put his adulteress through the wringer. Kitty marries too soon and realizes once she’s dragged away from her homeland to the far East by her new husband Walter that she’s made a terrible mistake. Her affair with a handsome and charming official can’t end well and it doesn’t. Rather than leave his wife, Walter gives her an ultimatum which could end in her death. This novel is both terrifying and brutal on its characters psyches showing how hard it is to discover what you really want in romance.
Do you have any favourite novels which deal with infidelity?