The basics: Art and Marion's marriage is failing. They're giving it one last-ditch effort by spending a romantic weekend in Niagara Falls, where they also plan to gamble their way back to financial solvency.
My thoughts: The Odds: A Love Story is not the kind of love story fans of Nicholas Sparks would enjoy. It's a real love story, filled with miscommunication, disappointment, blame and exhaustion. O'Nan balances the whimsy of beginning each chapter with a set of odds related to its content with the increasingly depressing vision of Art and Marion's marriage. O'Nan gradually reveals the details of both how dire their marriage and financial situation are, as well as how it got there. More importantly, however, O'Nan seamlessly uses both Art and Marion as narrators. The reader comes to understand the marriage, and it becomes clear neither Art, Marion, nor the reader truly understand it from all perspectives.
Favorite passage: "You couldn’t relive your life, skipping the awful parts, without losing what made it worthwhile. You had to accept it as a whole—like the world, or the person you loved."
The verdict: The Odds is a quirky, fun, realistic portrayal of a modern marriage on the brink of financial ruin and divorce. Its biggest strength are the characters of Art and Marion, who are remarkably well-developed as individuals in this short novel. It's a travel novel, a character study, and a love story, but all three are firmly grounded in reality and resonate with wisdom and genuine emotion.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 192 pages
Publication date: January 19, 2012
Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy The Odds: A Love Story from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle version).
Now tell me: The Odds: A Love Story was my first Stewart O'Nan novel, but it certainly won't be my last. Which of his novels should I read next?
As an affiliate, I receive a very, very small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!