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A seductive novel about a privileged but damaged Manhattan wife whose main source of stability—her marriage—comes under threat, from forces both without and within.
For most of their marriage, Althea has fluctuated between extreme depressive and manic states, and Oliver has been the steady hand that guided her to safety. This summer, Althea decides that she will be different from here on. She will be the loving, sexy wife Oliver wants, and the reliable, affectionate mother their nine-year-old daughter Clem deserves. Her plan: to bring Clem to their Easthampton home once school is out—with no "summer girl" to care for her this time—and become "normal."
But Oliver is distant and controlling, and his relationship with their interior decorator seems a bit too close; Clem has learned to be self-sufficient, and getting to know her now feels like very hard work for Althea. Into this scene enters the much younger, David Foster Wallace–reading house painter, who reaches something in Althea that has been long buried.
Fearless and darkly funny, If You Left explores the complex dance that is the bipolar marriage, and the possibility that to move forward, we might have to destroy the very things we've worked hardest to build.
Running time 8 hrs 20 min