Jarvis Miller's artist husband has been in a coma for six years. And so, Jarvis has spent these years suspended between hope and grief, paralyzed with longing for a life and a marriage that are slipping away. But then, unexpectedly, Jarvis makes her first new friends in years when she meets the Kept Man Club: three men whose lifestyles are funded by their successful wives, who gather once a week on laundry day. With their help, she reawakens to the city beyond her Brooklyn apartment, past the pitying eyes of her husband?s art dealer and his irresponsible best friend as her future begins to take on the irresistible tingles of possibility for the first time in almost a decade. When a shocking discovery casts a different light on her idealized marriage, she's propelled even further down a path that she would never have dared to imagine just months before. Tender, bold, and unabashed, The Kept Man is a compulsively readable novel about love and loss from one of our most dynamic new storytellers.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Reading Group Guide
Jami Attenberg’s The Kept Man is a poetic meditation on love and loss, told from the perspective of a woman facing an unbearable dilemma. Set in Brooklyn, New York, the story follows a pivotal summer in the life of Jarvis Miller, whose husband, Martin, has spent the last six years in an irreversible coma. Although the possibility of his recovery has long since vanished, Jarvis has been unable to move on. Martin’s sudden rise to fame in the art world—fueled by the tragedy of his untimely debilitation—has allowed her to retreat completely, surrounded by his artwork and supported by the income it generates. She spends her days and nights cocooned in the loft they once shared, leaving only to visit him at the assisted living facility that keeps his inert body alive. Jarvis cannot bear to let her husband die, but she has also grown increasingly aware that she cannot move forward while he is still living.
Jarvis’ road out of her own semi-comatose state begins with a random mishap: her washing machine breaks down. Forced to leave home in search of a laundromat, she makes the acquaintance of three intriguing men who refer to themselves as the “Kept Man Club”—each member supported by a financially successful wife. Jarvis turns to these men for friendship, but one of them, Mal, is interested in something more, and another, Scott, is slowly capturing her heart. Energized by these new relationships, Jarvis begins to take a more active approach to her life, including her duties as gatekeeper to Martin’s estate. Martin’s art dealer, Alice, and his best friend, Davis, seem particularly anxious to keep her away from a specific series of photos taken over the course of their marriage. Dreading what she may find but determined to know the truth, Jarvis talks her way into Alice’s studio and makes off with the photos. The images they capture reveal a different side of Martin—one that was seemingly less devoted to her than Jarvis had ever suspected.
At its heart, The Kept Man is a deftly observed character study of a complex and fascinating woman. At once vulnerable and bold, Jarvis Miller is an engrossingly believable heroine whose mistakes are as revealing as her triumphs. Anger at her husband’s hidden past leads Jarvis first into Mal’s bedroom and then to a humiliating rejection by Scott. Through these impulsive and at times ill-conceived actions, she finds a way to forgive her husband, and through forgiveness comes to peace with the idea of letting him go. Although the decision to remove Martin from life support whips up a firestorm of protests and condemnation, Jarvis remains committed to her course of action. While the outside world debates questions of morality, Jarvis remains driven by love—a love strong enough, finally, to say goodbye.
ABOUT JAMI ATTENBERG
Jami Attenberg is the author of the story collection Instant Love. She has written for Jane, Salon, Nylon, Print, the San Francisco Chronicle, Entertainment Weekly, and Time Out New York, and her fiction has appeared in Nerve, Pindeldyboz, Spork, and Bullfight Review. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was looking forward to reading a new author and decided that the plot on this book sounded good. I thought it was going to be an uplifting book but it wasn't. I 'pulled the bookmark' at page 60 since it was very depressing.
Thank goodness one of our library volunteers recommended this book to me; otherwise, I wouldn't have picked it up. There's just something so engrossing about this book, and its close look at the mundane aspects of everyday life -- love, relationships, friendships, work -- and the impact of events larger than we can ever imagine. Do pick it up -- it's worth it!
I enjoyed the book, it was easy to read and kept my interest.
I agree with the first reviewer, the first part is depressing, but I gets better. You come to care about this woman and wonder what you would do in her situation. I loved the book and could not wait to see what happened.