3.21 (57 ratings by Goodreads)
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"Marriage is like a rain forest," Vicki Covington writes in Cleaving. "The story of a marriage contains all that grows in the canopy, all that is visible from an aerial, or public, view. The understory of a marriage is the place where . . . we struggle, fight, and conceive. It's the place where compost is made, where anything can grow, including forgiveness." Told in the authors' alternating voices, Cleaving is both the story and the understory of a marriage. Childhood acquaintances, Vicki and Dennis meet again in their twenties and wed. they "promise each other nothing" and get more than they'd bargained for: alcoholism, infidelity, infertility, uncertainty. tumult gives way to sobriety, parenthood, and meaningful work, but a yearning remains. In a quest to root themselves in the larger world, they embark on a mission to dig water wells in Central America, assuaging a spiritual thirst by addressing a practical need. Yet even this is part of the story-the visible, overarching canopy-of the marriage. The understory-and the triumph of this haunting book, which is neither sentimental nor cynical-is its portrayal of the eddying of passion through the institution that enshrines but cannot contain it. A soulful and unsparing portrait of the forces that threaten-and sustain-a relationship over more

Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 137.16 x 198.12 x 12.7mm | 226.8g
  • North Point Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised and Rev.
  • black & white illustrations
  • 086547589X
  • 9780865475892

Review quote

Cleaving is a wondrous love story. It speaks of the terness and dangers of eros as well as any book I have read, but it is the book's burning spirituality that stays with you. "Pat Conroy" This marriage can be seen as a nest of contradictions: sacred and profane; sterile and fertile; faithful and marked by betrayal . . . As a love story this is both disturbing and exhilarating, but it leaves the reader wanting to sp more time with these very honest and vital people. "Booklist, Starred Review" This raw, emotional memoir of a 20-year marriage is unforgettable . . . Highly recommed. "Library Journal, starred review""show more

About Dennis Covington

Dennis Covington is a journalist and the author of Salvation on Sand Mountain, a 1995 National Book Award finalist. Vicki Covington is the author of four novels, including The Last Hotel for Women. They live in Birmingham, more

Rating details

57 ratings
3.21 out of 5 stars
5 11% (6)
4 30% (17)
3 39% (22)
2 12% (7)
1 9% (5)
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