It’s been 10 years since I heard Sue Miller, the author of the novel The Senator’s Wife interviewed on NPR. As Miller and program host Linda Wertheimer discussed the novel, much to my surprise I found myself intrigued. So intrigued was I that I vowed to read The Senator’s Wife someday. Well, after all those years I’m happy to say a few weeks ago I borrowed a copy from my public library. After waiting so long to read, naturally I was afraid I’d experience a let-down. But alas, there was none since The Senator’s Wife did not disappoint me.
After a newly married couple purchase one half of a double town house in New England the two of them discover their neighbor, a retired age woman with a stately demeanor is the wife of a former US Senator. While the two households share identical floor plans, their respective inhabitants live in completely different worlds. Nathan, a young political science professor is married to Meri, a reporter for a local NPR station. While not exactly honeymooners, their marriage is fresh and on an uncertain yet hopeful trajectory. Next door is Delia, aloof at first but soon becomes a mother figure to Meri. Beneath Delia’s calm facade however lie a lifetime of painful wounds thanks to her senator husband’s years of infidelities.
I credit Sue Miller for taking what could have been an average novel at best with a ho-hum storyline and turning it into something greater. I consider The Senator’s Wife one of this year’s pleasant surprises and could very well make my year-end Best Fiction List.