Since the publication of her award-winning 2020 novel Hamnet, Northern Irish author Maggie O’Farrell’s next book has been eagerly awaited. The Marriage Portrait came out in August, was an instant New York Times bestseller, and was recently shortlisted for the 2023 Women’s Prize in fiction. However, I came away from The Marriage Portrait deeply dissatisfied. It is a beautifully written book, but many of the choices end up dramatically undercutting its own story and themes.
February is the shortest month, but this past February had too many days that felt like lifetimes, as crisis after crisis pounded across our screens. The occupation of Ottawa dragged on for weeks before finally being brought to an end by the first use of the Emergencies Act in Canadian history. Then, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine, so far killing thousands, displacing millions, and unleashing devastation and horror against Ukrainian cities. The world seems to be coming apart at the seams, and in March, we can feel each stitch breaking one by one.