The Greatest "Marriage, Fiction" Books Since 2000

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 264 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Marriage

The category of "Marriage" in books encompasses a wide range of literature that explores the institution of marriage, including its joys, challenges, and complexities. These books may delve into the history and cultural significance of marriage, examine the psychological and emotional dynamics of relationships, or offer practical advice and guidance for couples navigating the ups and downs of married life. Whether exploring the intricacies of communication, intimacy, or conflict resolution, books in this category aim to provide insight and support for individuals seeking to build and maintain strong, healthy, and fulfilling marriages.

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  1. 1. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

    The novel revolves around the lives of the Lambert family, an old-fashioned midwestern couple and their three adult children. The parents, Alfred and Enid, are dealing with Alfred's Parkinson's disease and their own marital problems, while their children are each facing their own personal and professional crises. The narrative explores the themes of family dynamics, societal expectations, and the struggles of modern life. The story climaxes with the family's last Christmas together at their childhood home.

  2. 2. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

    The novel tells the story of a man with a genetic disorder that causes him to time travel unpredictably, and his wife, an artist who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences. Their love story endures many separations and dangerous experiences due to his condition. The story's central theme is the effects of time travel on their marriage and their passionate love for each other.

  3. 3. On Beauty by Zadie Smith

    This novel is a contemporary, multicultural exploration of family life, love, and identity. It follows the lives of two mixed-race families, the Belseys and the Kipps, who are linked by their shared professions in academia and a complex web of marital and extramarital relationships. The story is set against the backdrop of Wellington, a fictional New England town, and explores themes of race, class, and cultural clash. It also delves into the world of academia, examining the politics and conflicts that arise in that environment.

  4. 4. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

    The book is a collection of 13 interconnected short stories revolving around Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher living in a small town in Maine. Olive is a complex character with a prickly exterior but a deep well of emotion and empathy beneath the surface. Through her interactions and relationships with various town residents, the book explores themes of love, loss, aging, and change, painting a rich portrait of a community and its inhabitants.

  5. 5. Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen

    This novel is a multi-generational saga that explores the lives of the Berglund family. It delves into their personal struggles and relationships, and how they navigate through the complexities of life in contemporary America. The narrative explores themes of freedom in various forms, including personal freedom, societal freedom, and the freedom of choice. The book also examines the impact of these choices on the family’s dynamics, their relationships, and their identities.

  6. 6. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

    The book is a profound exploration of love, loyalty, and justice, centered on a young African American couple whose lives are shattered when the husband is wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn't commit. The narrative delves into the emotional turmoil that ensues, as the wife struggles with her obligations to her husband and her own desires for happiness. Through a series of letters exchanged between the couple during the husband's incarceration, and the perspectives of those entangled in their plight, the story examines the complexities of marriage, the impact of racial injustice on personal relationships, and the resilience required to overcome profound adversity.

  7. 7. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

    "Dept. of Speculation" follows the story of a woman navigating her life as a writer, a wife, and a mother. The novel explores her journey through marriage, motherhood, and the struggles of maintaining her own identity amidst these roles. It also delves into the hardships of dealing with infidelity and the complexities of love and relationships. The narrative is presented in fragmented pieces, reflecting the protagonist's scattered thoughts and emotions.

  8. 8. Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn

    The novel follows the life of Patrick Melrose, a man battling with his drug addiction and his troubled relationship with his parents. Patrick tries to come to terms with his mother’s decision to leave her estate to a New Age foundation rather than to him, her only son. The story delves into the complexities of inheritance, parenthood, and the lasting impact of childhood trauma. The narrative shifts between the perspectives of Patrick, his wife, and their two young sons, providing a multi-dimensional view of the family's struggles.

  9. 9. The Sea by John Banville

    "The Sea" is a profound exploration of memory, grief, and loss. The novel follows the story of a widower who returns to a seaside town where he spent his childhood summers. His present-day experiences are interwoven with memories of a transformative event from his youth involving a wealthy family he befriended. As he grapples with the loss of his wife to cancer, he also deals with the haunting memories of the past. The narrative is a deep dive into the human psyche, exploring themes of love, loss, and the fluidity of time.

  10. 10. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

    "Fates and Furies" is a novel split into two parts, providing two perspectives on a single marriage. The first half of the book, "Fates," is told from the point of view of the husband, Lotto, a charismatic but failed actor turned successful playwright, who views his marriage as happy and his wife as supportive. The second half, "Furies," is told from the perspective of his wife, Mathilde, revealing her hidden past and the sacrifices and manipulations she has performed to maintain their life together. The novel explores themes of love, secrets, and the different narratives created within a relationship.

  11. 11. Brick Lane by Monica Ali

    This novel tells the story of a Bangladeshi woman named Nazneen who moves to London at the age of 18 for an arranged marriage to a man 20 years her senior. The narrative explores her life in the city, her struggles with her unhappy marriage, her affair with a young radical, and her attempts to reconcile her traditional upbringing with her new surroundings. The book also explores the lives of immigrants in the UK, the clash of cultures, and the struggle for identity.

  12. 12. The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

    "The Neapolitan Novels" is a four-part series that explores the intricate and lifelong friendship between two women from Naples, Italy. The series spans several decades, beginning in the 1950s, and provides a detailed examination of the women's lives, struggles, and the societal pressures they face. The narrative delves into themes of identity, friendship, love, violence, and socio-political changes in post-war Italy. The series is known for its rich character development and vivid portrayal of female friendship.

  13. 13. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro

    "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage" is a collection of nine short stories that explore the complexities of human relationships. Each story delves into the intricate web of emotions and experiences that define the human condition, including love, hate, friendship, courtship, and marriage. The characters are rendered with depth and nuance, their lives marked by moments of profound change and subtle transformation. The stories are set against the backdrop of rural and urban landscapes, offering a rich, evocative portrayal of life in all its complexities and contradictions.

  14. 14. The Beauty Of The Husband by Anne Carson

    "The Beauty of the Husband" is a poetic exploration of a failing marriage. Told in 29 tangos, the narrative unfolds the story of a woman who remains in love with her husband despite his numerous infidelities. The husband, a charming and deceitful character, is portrayed as a figure of magnetic attraction and revulsion, with his wife drawn to his charisma and repelled by his dishonesty. The book is a profound examination of love, betrayal, and the complex dynamics of relationships.

  15. 15. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

    This novel follows the intertwined lives of three college graduates in the 1980s. The story focuses on the romantic entanglements of Madeleine Hanna, an English major who is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, and her relationships with two men: Leonard Bankhead, a charismatic but troubled biology student, and Mitchell Grammaticus, a religious studies student who is in love with Madeleine. The narrative explores the complexities of love, mental illness, faith, and the relevance of the traditional marriage plot in a modern world.

  16. 16. Grown Ups by Marian Keyes

    The novel delves into the complexities of family dynamics, personal growth, and the challenges of adulthood through the lens of the Casey family, whose seemingly perfect lives begin to unravel during a family gathering. When one member of the family suffers a concussion and starts revealing all of their secrets, the facades carefully constructed by each family member start to crumble. The story explores themes of love, betrayal, and the facades people maintain, as the characters confront their personal demons and strive to find a sense of authenticity and happiness in their lives. Through humor and empathy, the narrative examines what it truly means to be a grown-up in a modern world filled with expectations and pressures.

  17. 17. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud

    This novel follows the lives of three friends in their thirties living in New York City in the months leading up to and following the September 11 attacks. All children of privilege, they struggle with their careers, love lives, and identities against the backdrop of a changing world. The narrative explores themes of entitlement, disillusionment, and the often complicated nature of adult friendships.

  18. 18. The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi

    The novel is a poignant exploration of the life of a Japanese woman in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who endures the pain and humiliation of serving her husband's needs by finding him concubines. As she navigates the complexities of her role within a rigidly patriarchal society, she faces the emotional turmoil of sacrificing her own happiness for the sake of family duty and social expectations. The narrative delves into themes of female subjugation, the intricacies of marital relationships, and the silent resilience of women, offering a powerful critique of the era's gender dynamics and the personal costs of adhering to tradition.

  19. 19. The Story Of The Lost Child: Book 4, The Neapolitan Novels: “Maturity, Old Age by Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein

    "The Story of the Lost Child" is the fourth and final book in the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante. The novel follows the lives of two childhood friends, Elena and Lila, as they navigate through adulthood, motherhood, and old age in Naples, Italy. The book explores themes of class, gender, motherhood, and the complexities of female friendships. As the two women grow older, they face challenges that test their friendship and force them to confront the choices they have made in their lives. The novel is a poignant and powerful conclusion to the Neapolitan Novels series.

  20. 20. Trust by Hernán Díaz

    "Trust" by Hernán Díaz is a novel that follows the journey of a young man named Rafael, who leaves his home in Mexico to pursue the American Dream in the 19th century. Rafael's journey takes him through the Wild West, where he encounters a diverse cast of characters and faces numerous challenges. Along the way, he learns about the complexities of trust and betrayal, and ultimately discovers the true meaning of home and belonging. The novel is a poignant exploration of identity, immigration, and the American experience.

  21. 21. Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    This novel unfolds the glamorous yet tumultuous life of aging Hollywood icon, Evelyn Hugo, as she decides to finally reveal the truth about her scandalous life and her marriages to seven men. Through an exclusive interview with an unknown magazine reporter, Evelyn's story traverses decades of her career, uncovering the ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love that defined her. The narrative delves deep into themes of identity, love, and the price of fame, as Evelyn's complex character—her triumphs and her failures—is laid bare against the backdrop of the golden age of Hollywood.

  22. 22. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

    Mr. Fox is a novel about a writer who is challenged by his imaginary muse to stop killing off his female characters. This leads to a series of stories within stories, where reality and fantasy blur. The writer, his wife, and the muse navigate through these narratives, exploring themes of love, identity, and the power of storytelling. The novel is a mix of fairy tale, romance, and mystery, with a metafictional twist.

  23. 23. Seven Years by Peter Stamm

    "Seven Years" is a novel about a complex love triangle. The protagonist is a man who's married to a woman he doesn't love, while he's obsessed with another woman who he doesn't understand. The novel explores the themes of love, desire, and the passage of time, as it jumps back and forth between different periods in the protagonist's life. Over the course of seven years, the protagonist grapples with his feelings and the consequences of his actions, leading to a series of dramatic and emotional revelations.

  24. 24. La Conversation Amoureuse by Alice Ferney

    The book delves into the intricate dynamics of love and relationships through the lens of a passionate dialogue between two lovers. As they converse, the narrative explores the depth of their emotions, the complexities of their individual lives, and the societal expectations that shape their connection. The conversation becomes a dance of words and sentiments, revealing the characters' vulnerabilities, desires, and the profound impact they have on each other. Through this intimate exchange, the book examines the universal themes of love, fidelity, and the human longing for meaningful connection.

  25. 25. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

    This novel unfolds the heart-wrenching story of a family irrevocably changed one snowy night in 1964. When a doctor is forced to deliver his own twins, he makes a split-second decision to send his newborn daughter, born with Down syndrome, away with the nurse, instructing her to place the baby in an institution. Instead, the nurse moves to another city and raises the girl as her own. The secret of the daughter's existence creates a silent chasm in the doctor's marriage and profoundly affects their son, as the lie that was meant to protect them all slowly erodes their lives. Spanning a quarter of a century, the novel explores themes of love, loss, and the complex nature of family and identity.

Reading Statistics

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