After reading John Irving's A Son Of The Circus a few months ago and enjoying it , I decided to read another of his books. I chose The 158-Pound Marriage because, unlike many of Irving's other works it was a slim volume ideal for carrying whilst commuting.
The narrator is an academic who writes historical novels. His wife, Utch, was born in Austria soon before the Soviet Union marched in at the end of WW2. Severin, also born in Austria, teaches German and coaches wrestling at the same university as the narrator. His wife, Edith, is an aspiring novelist.
The two couples decide to become a foursome'. By mutual agreement Severin spends occasional nights sleeping with Utch, whilst Edith and the narrator sleep together. It is an arrangement that appears to be working, but from the beginning of the book I suspected that things turn sour. It is clear from the outset that the narrator is wary of Severin, but the reverse is not true. Severin turns out to be a colourful character full of mystery, some of which is gradually revealed as the tale unfolds. Inevitably, things end badly, but I will not reveal any details.
Compared to A Son Of The Circus, The 158-Pound Marriage is colourless and dull. It was only a refusal to give up, that kept me going until the last page. However, I have not been put-off reading John Irving, and plan to tackle some of his better-known novels in the future.
Review by author of ROGUE OF ROUXVILLE