Every marriage is different, and I must say reading novels about marriage is highly interesting and, in a weird way, very satisfying. I’ve been married for years, and I mostly don’t remember the life I had before my marriage. I know that is not the case for everyone, but I’m sure I’m not lonely in this. Sharing your life, your house and every other thing with someone else sounds crazy. And I sometimes wonder how we do it, and reading novels about marriage surely helps.
As in all the book lists on my blog, I tried to include various novels about marriage so that every reader can find a book to their liking. The only thing I made sure of was to have mostly literary and contemporary fiction rather than the other genres. Some of them are dark, some of them are funny, but all the novels about marriage on this list are good books. I hope you’ll enjoy every one of them!
Novels About Marriage
They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same: Dept. of Speculation. They used to be young, brave, and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the small calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly something changes. As the years rush by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life as they know it cracks apart and they find themselves forced to reassess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now.
Written with the dazzling lucidity of poetry, Dept. of Speculation navigates the jagged edges of a modern marriage to tell a story that is darkly funny, surprising and wise. One of my fave novels about marriage.
The Beauty of the Husband – Anne Carson
The Beauty Of The Husband is an essay on Keats’s idea that beauty is truth, and is also the story of a marriage. It is told in 29 tangos. A tango (like a marriage) is something you have to dance to the end.
This clear-eyed, brutal, moving, darkly funny book tells a single story in an immediate, accessible voice — 29 “tangos” of narrative verse that take us vividly through erotic, painful, and heartbreaking scenes from a long-time marriage that falls apart. Only award-winning poet Anne Carson could create a work that takes on the oldest of lyrical subjects — love — and make it this powerful, this fresh, this devastating. A gem among novels about marriage.
Heartburn – Nora Ephron
Seven months into her pregnancy, Rachel discovers that her husband is in love with another woman. The fact that this woman has a ‘neck as long as an arm and a nose as long as a thumb’ is no consolation. Food sometimes is, though, since Rachel is a cookery writer, and between trying to win Mark back and wishing him dead, she offers us some of her favourite recipes. Heartburn is a roller coaster of love, betrayal, loss and – most satisfyingly – revenge.
This is Nora Ephron’s (screenwriter of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle) roman a clef: ‘I always thought during the pain of the marriage that one day it would make a funny book,’ she once said – And it is! A fun one among novels about marriage.
The Intermission – Elyssa Friedland
Have you ever had a secret so gut-wrenching you couldn’t share it with anyone, not even the person who shares your bed? Told from the alternating perspectives of a husband and wife who both have something to hide, this incisive novel pulls back the curtain on a seemingly-happy marriage, posing the question: how much do we really know – and how much should we want to know – about the people we love the most? A light romance among novels about marriage.
The Amateur Marriage – Anne Tyler
Michael and Pauline seemed like the perfect couple – young, good-looking, made for each other.
The moment she walked into his mother’s grocery store in Baltimore, he was smitten, and in the heat of World War II fervour, they marry in haste. From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counter-culture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayers of later years, we watch their lives unspool and see the consequences of their very mismatched marriage among novels about marriage.
The Children Act – Ian McEwan
Fiona Maye, a leading High Court judge, renowned for her fierce intelligence and sensitivity is called on to try an urgent case. For religious reasons, a seventeen-year-old boy is refusing the medical treatment that could save his life. Time is running out.
She visits the boy in hospital – an encounter which stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. But it is Fiona who must ultimately decide whether he lives or dies and her judgement will have momentous consequences for them both. For the fans of McEwan among novels about marriage.
A Separation – Katie Kitamura
Set in Greece among novels about marriage: A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. For the moment it’s a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, alone, she gets word that her ex-husband has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged southern Peloponnese. Reluctantly she agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she’s not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild and barren landscape, she traces the failure of their relationship, and finds that she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love.
A story of intimacy, infidelity and compassion, A Separation is about the gulf that divides us from the lives of others and the narratives we create to mask our true emotions. As the narrator reflects upon her love for a man who may never have been what he appeared, Kitamura propels us into the experience of a woman on the brink of catastrophe. A Separation is a riveting masterpiece of absence and presence that will leave the reader astonished, and transfixed. A literary mystery among novels about marriage.
Other Men’s Daughters – Richard Stern
A classic among novels about marriage: Harvard physiologist Robert Merriwether has four whip-smart children, an attractive and intelligent wife, and a successful, stimulating career. True, he and Sarah have not slept together in years, and when he decides to stay behind in Cambridge for the summer while the rest of the family vacations in Maine, his newfound freedom is deeply unsettling. But that does not mean that Merriwether wants to change his life or feels unloved. To a man of science, desire is nothing more than a biological reaction. And Merriwether’s personal philosophy is that once you’re in your forties, real love is nothing but lust and nostalgia.
The Paper Palace – Miranda Cowley Heller
On a perfect August morning, Elle Bishop heads out for a swim in the pond below ‘The Paper Palace’ – her family’s holiday home in Cape Cod. As she dives beneath the water she relives the passionate encounter she had the night before, against the side of the house that knows all her darkest secrets, while her husband and mother chatted to their guests inside…
So begins a story that unfolds over twenty-four hours and fifty years, as Elle’s shocking betrayal leads her to a life-changing decision – and an ending you won’t be able to stop thinking about. Perfect for book clubs among novels about marriage.
Stay with Me – Ayobami Adebayo
Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear.
Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me is a story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the power of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about the desperate attempts we make to save ourselves, and those we love, from heartbreak. Set in Nigeria among novels about marriage.
Standard Deviation – Katherine Heiny
Graham’s second wife, Audra, is an unrestrained force of good nature. She talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. When she decides to make friends with Elsbeth Graham s first wife and Audra s polar opposite Graham starts to wonder: how can anyone love two such different women? And did he make the right choice? A fun one among novels about marriage.
This Must Be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell
This Must be the Place is a novel about family, identity, and true love: an intimately drawn portrait of a marriage, both the forces that hold it together and the pressures that drive it apart. O’Farrell writes with complexity, insight, and laugh-out-loud humor in a narrative that hurtles forward with powerful velocity and emotion. This Must be the Place is a sophisticated, spellbinding summer read from one of the UK’s most highly acclaimed and best-loved novelists among novels about marriage.
Monogamy – Sue Miller
Annie is the great love of Graham’s life. Here they are in late middle-age, the photographer and the bookseller, so mismatched and yet so well-matched. Theirs is a happy marriage of nearly thirty years – and even the happiest of marriages, Graham tells himself, have their secrets.
Then the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Annie is alone, stumbling in the dark. How much can we ever know the people who love us? An interesting one among novels about marriage.
The Husbands – Chandler Baker
The wives here are different. They are living proof that women can have it all: successful careers, loving families, beautiful homes.
Their husbands are different too. They are living proof that men can do just as much as women. They can remember the kids’ schedules, use an iron and notice when the house needs dusting.
Nora thinks she’s found the perfect new home for her family. But when she agrees to get involved in a wrongful death case in the neighbourhood, Nora becomes convinced that there’s a dark secret at the heart of this perfect world.
For these women, it seems the secret to having it all is worth killing for. A literary thriller among novels about marriage.
The Wife – Meg Wolitzer
A Husband. A Wife. Their Secret.
Joe and Joan Castleman are en route to Helsinki. Joe is thinking about the prestigious literary prize he will receive there, while Joan is plotting how to leave him. For too long she has played the role of supportive wife, turning a blind eye to his misdemeanours, whilst quietly being the keystone of his success. But behind the compromises, the disappointment and disillusionment there lies a secret. A powerful one among novels about marriage.
Us – David Nicholls
For the fans of Nicholls among novels about marriage: Narrated from Douglas’s endearingly honest, slyly witty, and at times achingly optimistic point of view, Us is the story of a man trying to rescue his relationship with the woman he loves and learning how to get closer to a son who’s always felt like a stranger.
Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April’s decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy. A wonderful classic among novels about marriage.
The Silent Wife – A. S. A. Harrison
Having nothing left to lose changes everything.
Todd and Jodie have been together for more than twenty years. They are both aware their world is in crisis, though neither is willing to admit it.
Todd is living a dual existence, while Jodie is living in denial. But she also likes to settle scores. When it becomes clear their affluent Chicago lifestyle could disintegrate at any moment, Jodie knows everything is at stake. It’s only now she will discover just how much she’s truly capable of…
Shocking and compelling in equal measure, THE SILENT WIFE is a chilling portrayal of two people in turmoil and the lengths they will go to in order to protect themselves. An unsettling one among novels about marriage.
Crossing to Safety – Wallace Stegner
Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage. A classic among novels about marriage.
Life Drawing – Robin Black
Augusta and Owen have taken the leap. Leaving the city and its troubling memories behind, they have moved to the country for a solitary life where they can devote their days to each other and their art, where Gus can paint and Owen can write.
But the facts of a past betrayal prove harder to escape than urban life. Ancient jealousies and resentments haunt their marriage and their rural paradise.
When Alison Hemmings moves into the empty house next door, Gus is drawn out of isolation, despite her own qualms and Owen’s suspicions. As the new relationship deepens, the lives of the two households grow more and more tightly intertwined. It will take only one new arrival to intensify emotions to breaking point.
Fierce, honest and astonishingly gripping, Life Drawing by Robin Black is a novel as beautiful and unsparing as the human heart.
Check out my other lists about books!
- 10 Uplifting Books
- Great Novels by Poets
- Feel-Good Cozy Mystery Series
- Autumn Books – 20 Cozy Novels
- Winter Books- 20 Atmospheric Novels
- Spring Books – 20 Lovely Novels
- 20 Captivating Gothic Books
- Japanese Books Under 200 Pages
- 20 Best Campus and Academic Novels
- 25 Intriguing Dark Academia Books
- 20 Literary Romance Novels
- 20 Best Food Culture and Food History Books
- Comforting Food Memoirs
- Top 5 Haiku Books
- 15 Best Eco-fiction Novels
- Perfect Christmas Books
- 20 Best Turkish Books
- Standalone Fantasy Books
- Books Set in Museums
- Books Set in Hotels
- Books Set on Islands
- Novels Set in Ancient Egypt
- Novels Set in Bookshops
- Novels Set in Libraries
- Books Set in the English Countryside
- Books Set in Edinburgh
- Books Set in Oxford
- Books Set in Istanbul
- Books Set in Forests
- Novels Under 100 Pages
- Novels Under 150 Pages
- Novels Under 200 Pages
- Novels About Books
- Best Books About Books
- Novels About Vincent Van Gogh
- Novels About Leonardo da Vinci
- Novels About Marriage
- Novels About Food
- Novels About Writers
- Books About Witches
- Novels About Ernest Hemingway
- Best Books About Birds
- Best Books About Walking
- Best Books About Tea
- Novels About Scents & Perfume
Are there any other novels about marriage that should be on this list? Please share your favourite books with us in the comments section below.