A spot on depiction of a marriage in decline, this story by Kingsolver started off a little slow for me. Upon further consideration though, it wasn't the writing that put me off. I think it took me a little bit to fully absorb what I was reading and honestly, I didn't want to keep reading, to continue experiencing this sad and realistic look at the struggle, the grind, not knowing if or how it would get better.
We see Lydia, a young middle school science teacher contemplating where her relationship with Whitman, a carpenter, went wrong. They were lovers, friends, cheerleaders for each other and throughout the story there are flashes of that shared history but only moments and that is what creates the tension that moves the story along.
Midstory, when Lydia observes Whitman from a distance planing a piece of wood while making a coffee table, the third person narrator notes:
"Every time he shoves the plane forward, a slice of wood curls out and drops to the floor, and she wonders if he's going to plane the board right down to nothing."
THIS, this sentence and its placement and subtle purpose in this story IS WHY we read fiction.
Marriage in a nutshell, the shaving away of each other until you're hollow and empty but somehow still salvageable. Kingsolver ends this one on a happy note where there's hope and understanding. Is it realistic? Will the change last? We don't know but we are left suspecting yet not fearing the worst.