Happenstance

The Wife's Story

Publisher: Vintage Canada
These two unique novels tell the stories of Jack and Brenda Bowman during a rare weekend apart in their many years of marriage. Jack is at home coping with domestic crises and two uncouth adolescents, while immobilized by self-doubt and questioning his worth as a historian. Brenda, travelling alone for the first time, is in a strange city grappling with an array of emotions and toying with the idea of an affair. Intimate and insightful yet never sentimental, Happenstance is a profound portrait of a marriage and the differences between the sexes that bring life — and a sense of isolation — into even the most loving of relationships.

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The Husband’s Story

Chapter One


At the restaurant Jack wanted to tell Bernie about Harriet Post, a girl he had once been in love with. He wanted to put his head down on the table and moan aloud with rage. Instead he placed his fork into a square of ravioli and said in a moderate tone, “...
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READING GUIDE

1. Carol Shields spoke of becoming a writer because there weren’t enough books that examined women’s friendships and women’s inner lives — or, as she put it, “the kind of book I wanted to read but couldn’t find.” In what ways does Shields’s fiction bring the lives of women...

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PRAISE FOR

"Shields delivers a tour de force — a marriage is the culmination of a million tiny moments and she strings them together with intense cumulative power." —Publisher's Weekly

"A perfect little gem of a novel."—The Toronto Star

"A delightful portrait of a partnership, full of quirky humour between two people who are at once familiar and strangers to each other … a celebration of marriage as historical accident." —The Times (London)

"Carol Shields writes with delicacy and perception." —The Montreal Gazette