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Review – Matrimony by Joshua Henkin

by Joshua Henkin
291 pages
Published 2007

I was pretty interested when I Joshua Henkin contacted me about reviewing his book. I’ve been seeing this book pop up everywhere. Apparently there was good reason for this: Matrimony was named a New York Times Notable Book, a Book Sense Highlight Pick of the Year, AND a Borders Original Voices Selection. I’m sure this is every author’s dream, for people to sit up and take notice and say Hey! This writer is GOOD. No crickets can be heard where Joshua Henkin is concerned.

Matrimony (I’m going to pretend you haven’t seen this book everywhere) introduces us to Julian Wainwright as he enters adulthood at Graymont College. Julian makes a friend, Carter Heinz. Julian’s family has money and Carter’s doesn’t, creating an undertone of envy within the relationship. The grass is always greener on the other side, though, because Julian wants to get out from under his parents’ influence and follow his dream: writing; an occupation that is certainly not glamorous or well paying (especially in the beginning).

Julian and Carter scope out a girl in college, Mia (they called her Mia from Montreal), who is beautiful. They both drool over her, but Julian meets her first (doing laundry of all things) and the dating begins. Carter had already met someone, Pilar, but that doesn’t stop him from wanting what Julian has.

Julian and Mia get married very young after a family tragedy and the book looks at whether a marriage can survive the immaturity of the early 20s. Trust and betrayal, friendship and love, ambition…all of these are deftly handled.

But was the book any good? When I finally finished the book, I decided yes, it was good. But in the beginning and middle, I wasn’t so sure. There was a lot of seemingly random information provided about the characters, information that I didn’t feel was necessary while reading it, nor after I finished. The book is definitely character driven, and I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters…except for Mia, who I would have liked to heard more from, but wasn’t given a lot of her own page time.

I was very pleased, though, to see the characters grow and learn. I think many people learn lessons too late and pay for it dearly through the loss of friends and spouses. It’s hard enough to watch people do that in real life…I really hate to read about it in books as well.

Matrimony would be a very interesting book to discuss in a book club because I think most people could not only relate to the characters, but will also have a strong opinion.

(Psst…Matrimony is being released in paperback on August 26th. Cool, eh?)


Rating: 86 out of 100

Check out the author’s website here. Discussion questions can be found here or downloaded here: matrimony_reading_group_guide.

You can also download this essay (henkin-book-group-essay) that Joshua Henkin wrote that originally appeared here. I highly recommend reading this.

The author talks about his book here.

And for other reviews, you can read Bookfool’s, Rebecca’s (her review is waaaay better than mine), Booklogged’s, Mrs. S’s, Tanabata’s, Jenny’s, Chartroose’s, Heather’s, Amy’s, Lisa’s, Julie’s, Kristen’s, The Literate Housewife’s, Boston Bibliophile’s, Bethany’s, or Becca’s.

Does this book sound interesting to you? Good, because there will be a giveaway on this very bat channel of a signed paperback copy of Matrimony on September 8th. Stay tuned! Or bookmark this page! Or make a note in your thingamajigger! But definitely don’t forget.

Oh, and Matrimony is the September online book pick at lit*chick and Mr. Henkin will be answering questions. Cool, eh?  

| Tags: , , , 11 comments »

11 Responses to “Review – Matrimony by Joshua Henkin”

  1. Rebecca

    Glad you enjoyed it in the end, and thanks for the shout-out!


  2. lisamm

    Very thoughtful review, Trish! I’ll be doing a giveaway as well, Sept. 15th.


  3. Jessica

    I have been hearing about this book everywhere! I think I may have to read it!


  4. Florinda

    Currently reading this myself, so I was really interested in what you had to say about it…so far, my impressions aren’t that different from yours, and I appreciate your keeping it spoiler-free :-)!


  5. mellymel

    great review – may i shamelessly plug Matrimony as my Sept online book pick and Mr. Henkin will be answering qs too ? thanks! and I’ll linky loo your giveaway and review 🙂


  6. lisamm

    Good grief, what a lot of links!! But the one that goes with his book group essay that was originally on my blog doesn’t appear to be working. Just FYI


  7. bexadler

    Hey, hey! I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Matrimony too so stop by and leave a comment if you’re interested!!!



  8. Meg Waite Clayton

    I, too, will be giving away a copy on my blog, – and Josh will be guestblogging on how he got started writing


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