Private Life


By Jane Smiley

cover image of Private Life

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres—and “one of her generation’s most eloquent chroniclers of ordinary familial love” (The New York Times)comes a “masterly…compelling depiction of a singular woman,” (The New Yorker), from her childhood in post–Civil War Missouri to California in the throes of World War II. 

Here is the powerful, deeply affecting story of one Margaret Mayfield. When Margaret marries Captain Andrew Jackson Jefferson Early at the age of twenty-seven, she narrowly avoids condemning herself to life as an old maid. Instead, knowing little about marriage and even less about her husband, she moves with Andrew to his naval base in California. Margaret stands by Andrew during tragedies both historical and personal, but as World War II approaches and the secrets of her husband’s scientific and academic past begin to surface, she is forced to reconsider the life she had so carefully constructed. 
A riveting and nuanced novel of marriage and family, Private Life reveals the mysteries of intimacy and the anonymity that endures even in lives lived side by side.
Private Life