State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts

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A heartbreaking, funny, and honest look inside of a marriage falling apart and the lengths a couple would go to in order to fix it from the bestselling author of About a Boy and High Fidelity.

Now a SundanceTV series starring Rosamund Pike and Chris O'Dowd!

Tom and Louise meet in a pub before their couple's therapy appointment. Married for years, they thought they had a stable home life--until a recent incident pushed them to the brink.

Going to therapy seemed like the perfect solution. But over drinks before their appointment, they begin to wonder: what if marriage is like a computer? What if you take it apart to see what's in there, but then you're left with a million pieces?

Unfolding in the minutes before their weekly therapy sessions, the ten-chapter conversation that ensues is witty and moving, forcing them to look at their marriage--and, for the first time in a long time, at each other.
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Published on
May 7, 2019
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Fiction / Family Life / Marriage & Divorce
Fiction / Humorous / General
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Married to a Cave Man is set in north Dublin in the dark days of Ireland’s economic crash. It centres on three marriages, each of which is experiencing a rough patch that’s about to turn a whole lot rougher. It’s a story of frustration, desperation and regret. It might not sound like it, but it’s a comedy.

Stephen and Nancy Cole have two boys under three. Nancy had always been vocal about the need for mothers to give up work for the first few years of their kids’ lives. She did so — and is now barely clinging onto her sanity. Stephen can tell that something's up with her but he doesn’t investigate too hard. After a tough day in a job he doesn’t enjoy, he just wants some down time with his beloved video games.

Next door to Nancy and Stephen live the McNamaras, Julie and Vincent. Julie works in advertising, while Vincent stays home with their baby and Jeremy Kyle (not literally). He’s besotted with his daughter and understands that his wife has the greater earning power. Still, he can't help but wonder if he has somehow stunted his masculinity. He has no idea that Julie wonders the same thing and is sliding towards an affair.

Across the street live the Dunlops, Leo and Deirdre. Leo, a serious record collector, has been unemployed for six months. Deirdre works as a PA in a dreary plumbing supplies company. They desperately want a baby but it isn’t happening, despite a sexual regime that has left them mentally and physically bruised. Deirdre tortures herself with the idea that her minor weight problem is to blame and spends every night on exercise bike. Leo, meanwhile, has given up on himself and is now merely pretending to look for work.

Stephen is the first of the husbands to decide that what he really needs — nay, deserves — is a man cave, a place where he can kick back and be alone. He empties out the garage and turns it into a shrine to gaming. Vincent likes the idea and follows suit, making himself landlord and sole patron of a little mock pub. Before long, Leo completes the set, clearing out the old paint cans and dragging in hundreds of records.

Nancy, Julie and Deirdre react to these moves with varying degrees of horror, disgust and low-level violence. Tensions that had been bubbling under now bubble very much over and before long, all three relationships are in crisis.

“Periodically a writer captures the pattern of comedy and tragedy that peppers office life like alternating colors of carpet squares. . . . As smart as Medoff’s critique of corporate inanity is, it’s tempered by compassion for these people, who are ultimately tender with each other, too. . . . Medoff finds plenty of hurt—but strains of hope, too.”

—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

A razor-sharp and deeply felt novel that illuminates the pivotal role of work in our lives—a riveting fusion of The Nest, Up in the Air, and Then We Came to the End that captures the emotional complexities of five HR colleagues trying to balance ambition, hope, and fear as their small company is buffeted by economic forces that threaten to upend them.

Rosa Guerrero beat the odds as she rose to the top of the corporate world. An attractive woman of a certain age, the longtime chief of human resources at Ellery Consumer Research is still a formidable presence, even if her most vital days are behind her. A leader who wields power with grace and discretion, she has earned the devotion and loyalty of her staff. No one admires Rosa more than her doting lieutenant Leo Smalls, a benefits vice president whose whole world is Ellery.

While Rosa is consumed with trying to address the needs of her staff within the ever-constricting limits of the company’s bottom line, her associate director, Rob Hirsch, a middle-aged, happily married father of two, finds himself drawing closer to his "work wife," Lucy Bender, an enterprising single woman searching for something—a romance, a promotion—to fill the vacuum in her personal life. For Kenny Verville, a senior manager with an MBA, Ellery is a temporary stepping-stone to bigger and better places—that is, if his high-powered wife has her way.

Compelling, flawed, and heartbreakingly human, these men and women scheme, fall in and out of love, and nurture dreams big and small. As their individual circumstances shift, one thing remains constant—Rosa, the sun around whom they all orbit. When her world begins to crumble, the implications for everyone are profound, and Leo, Rob, Lucy, and Kenny find themselves changed in ways beyond their reckoning.

Jillian Medoff explores the inner workings of an American company in all its brilliant, insane, comforting, and terrifying glory. Authentic, razor-sharp, and achingly funny, This Could Hurt is a novel about work, loneliness, love, and loyalty; about sudden reversals and unexpected windfalls; a novel about life.

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