TV producer Henry Broad and his wife Laura are in the kitchen having breakfast. He is distracted by thoughts of having sex with her, a diary-date occurrence which requires delicate negotiation; she is concerned about the amount of butter he is putting on his toast. This comic mismatch is just one of the problems they are facing after more than 30 years of a successful marriage.
Similar midlife concerns are nagging away at two other couples: Liz and Alan and Annie and Mitch. Could mature relationships such as theirs survive an extramarital adventure and even benefit from it? According to a magazine article that Liz writes, women are just as sexually driven as men and should be as free to satisfy their physical desires. Her liberal views are put to the test when Alan and Annie bump into each other and are tempted to rekindle their student affair. As well as exploring sexual dilemmas, this wonderful novel encompasses the realities of ageing, families, children and death with insight, sympathy and a lightness of touch.
William Nicholson has won awards for his television dramas, including Shadowlands, and has been Oscar-nominated for his film screenplays, including Gladiator
‘You don’t realise it, but in any long-lasting relationship you establish a balance of power, a network of levers and pulleys that keeps the two of you in balance. You know how to hurt each other, and how to soothe the hurt. You know how to please each other, and most of all you know that you matter to each other. This is the ground on which you stand. Then along comes an affair, and in a single seismic shock you discover that there’s a part of his life in which you don’t feature at all. Your power is gone.’
As well as being a successful novelist, William Nicholson has won awards for his television dramas, including Shadowlands, and has been Oscar-nominated for his film screenplays, including Gladiator. Like the characters in Adventures in Modern Marriage, he lives in Sussex. He writes exclusively about the novel at youreadinggroup.co.uk where you will also find suggested topics for your own book club discussion.