Title: The Half-Life of Happiness (Signed)
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, New York
Publication Date: 1998
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed by Casey on the title-page. Bookseller Inventory # GK2078
Synopsis: From the winner of the 1989 National Book Award (for Spartina), a major new novel--wise, sad, and richly comic--about the meltdown of a marriage against the backdrop of a gloriously awful congressional campaign. Charlottesville, Virginia, 1978: Mike is a successful forty-something lawyer, a onetime congressional staffer who's had it with Washington; Joss, his wife, is a filmmaker. They're Virginia liberals with a clan of close-knit friends--a bright, edgy, flirty, games-playing group, spinning like a Catherine wheel around Mike and Joss. But the sparks that fly between the two are getting hotter and more dangerous, as Joss' restlessness turns to impatience and then anger. When one of the group introduces them all to the woman he wants to marry, things suddenly explode--this new arrival and Joss fall passionately in love, and their whole world careens out of control.
What ensues is tragicomedy, as Mike tries to allay his rage and misery by letting himself get sucked into a trial run for a seat in Congress. He wants to be a hero to someone; instead he becomes the unwitting star of a political farce. Meantime, Joss is struggling with her new life, and their two young daughters (who form a lovingly unmerciful Greek chorus commenting on the action) have to navigate a turmoil in which one parent is a public joke and the other a private scandal. Rarely has the undoing of love been chronicled with such large-hearted humanity.
From the Inside Flap:
"[Casey] is an astute observer of the ruses as well as the private confrontations that govern our behavior."
--The Washington Post Book World
In The Half-life of Happiness, National Book Award winner John Casey brings us a family portrait rendered with masterful precision--and unwavering compassion. On a spring afternoon in Virginia, progressive attorney Mike Reardon strolls downtown Charlottesville feeling terrific. He surveys the elements in his appealing life: filmmaker wife Joss, his clever and canny daughters, the bohemian characters that share his seven-acre haven on the Rivanna River.
But Mike's blissful certainty is to be short-lived. A friend's suicide and Joss's affair with a mercurial woman turn Mike's world upside-down. Then Mike discovers the erotic quicksilver of the political campaign and so begins a farcical run for office that consumes all their lives. Here too--through Casey's brilliant rendering of Mike's sensitive, perceptive daughters--is the story of two children who grow up painfully aware of their parents' strengths and weaknesses. Superbly plotted, buoyed with humor and hope, The Half-life of Happiness embraces the accidents and choices that shape our lives and the lives of those we love.
"Riveting and beautifully written." --San Francisco Chronicle-Examiner
"A major novelist at the top of his form, Casey captures not only the texture of individual lives, but the shape and momentum of all lives that begin with the best intentions, then stray off course. . . . A wise and forgiving book as well as an entertaining one."
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