The Half-life of Happiness

Author John Casey
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Paperback
$15.00 US
On sale Aug 10, 1999 | 528 Pages | 978-0-375-70608-0
In The Half-life of Happiness, National Book Award winner John Casey brings us the meltdown of a marriage set 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.

"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." —Chicago Tribune
John Casey was born in 1939 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Iowa. His novel Spartina won the National Book Award in 1989. He lives with his wife in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is a professor of English literature at the University of Virginia. View titles by John Casey

About

In The Half-life of Happiness, National Book Award winner John Casey brings us the meltdown of a marriage set 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.

"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." —Chicago Tribune

Author

John Casey was born in 1939 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Iowa. His novel Spartina won the National Book Award in 1989. He lives with his wife in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he is a professor of English literature at the University of Virginia. View titles by John Casey

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