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The Virginia Quarterly Review
Sunday, July 2nd, 2006
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When All Is Said and Done: A Novel

by Robert Hill

Anatomy of a Marriage

A review by Wade Edwards

Striking and spirited in its presentation, this short, rapid-fire novel reads like a hymn to the travails of love and work, marriage and babies, illness and sex, sexism and the '60s, Revlon and Bergdorf's. Its framework is a Jewish couple in an exclusive New York suburb, but its reach is clearly more universal. To be sure, Dan and Myrmy's union is peculiar (filled as it is with anxiety, pretentiousness, social catastrophe, and pages and pages of run-on sentences), but grossly appealing nonetheless. The charm undoubtedly comes from Hill's manic yet controlled writing, at once observant and hilarious. When Dan has nearly maimed himself helping Myrmy, once again, with something remarkably trivial, his description of his high-maintenance wife is one case in point: "And just like my own mother, Myrmy's doing her damnedest to hold back on some little social lesson, some little etiquette enhancement so that devotion can get its due. She's a good woman, she really is, never better than when she's corralling herself back into her own pen without any arched-eyebrow lasso from me." Exquisitely perceptive and a little bit catty, Hill's novel goes down in one smooth, satisfying gulp.

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