My thoughts: I've been meaning to read Matrimony, Joshua Henkin's previous novel for years, but when I heard about this new novel, I decided to start with it. I'm so glad I did. I read The World Without You mostly in public places, which isn't particularly unusual for me. What is worth mentioning, however, is that nearly every chapter of this novel brought tears to my eyes. Some chapters left me sobbing, which is something I generally try to avoid in public places, but this novel was too good to put down in airports, on airplanes and on the bus.
Despite taking place over a few days, Henkin masterfully constructs these characters fully. I never got confused as to which person, and they seemed like real people, was which. Part of the fun for me was the setting in the Berkshires, near where my husband grew up and I, too, love to spend summers. Essentially, this novel is all about character and writing:
"In her twenties, she used to buy condoms with a casualness that bordered on disdain, but this feels different to her. There’s something more private about pregnancy than about sex, and although she understands the two are connected, it’s the trying to conceive that feels personal to her."As I looked back on the numerous passages I marked, I was still surprised to see that all of them were character-based statements. Henkin is a beautiful writer, and despite the tragic death at the novel's center, the emotions I felt as I read never felt forced or stemmed from manipulation. Instead, they stemmed from real grief felt for these people.
Favorite passage: "She’s suspicious of people who don’t snoop; she thinks it suggests a lack of curiosity."
The verdict: The World Without You is a deeply affecting, character-driven novel and one I won't soon forget. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 336 pages
Publication date: June 19, 2012
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