Dept. of Speculation


Title: Dept. of Speculation
Author: Jenny Offill
Published: January 2014
Format: ebook
Rating: 4/5

Keywords: Concise, marriage, motherhood, (in)fidelity.

I had this book on my TBR pile for more than a year now. I don’t actually know why I never bothered to read it, as its one of the most memorable books I’ve read in awhile.

It is a portrait of motherhood, marriage, fidelity and love. The story follows the life of a woman, simply named The Wife. It tells us how she met her husband, gave up on her writing career, how she acted and felt after becoming a mother, how she copes with fidelity and infidelity. It’s really a story about confronting, and coping with, the fact that life is full of disappointments but yet we soldier on and love.
The minute I started reading it, I felt that it’s going to be a heart-wrenching story. I had a feeling something is off. That the wife was somehow unhappy. Once I learned that she wanted to be an “art monster” before she got married and became a mother I started feeling for her. I appreciated how honest she was. When someone asked her if her baby was a good baby, she simply responded “no”. It’s not that she didn’t love her child, she did. She was just honest about how sometimes she is just fed up with mothering but still continues to do so.

So far it sounds quite depressing and like a heavy, emotional read. But the story is told in a very clear, honest and concise language. The chapters and paragraphs are quite short but to the point and each paragraph delivers a knock-out punch. It was just beautifully written.

You can read it one sitting, it’s not that long, but as the story is peppered with random facts and quotes I kept on getting distracted as I wanted to look up the quotes and facts (not a negative thing). One of the quotes that stuck by me was the Stoics one

If you are tired of everything you possess, imagine that you have lost all of these things

I mean, how beautiful and true is that? Most of factoids and quotes are quite random but all are jewels. I’m not sure if all quotes and facts were that connected to story but I didn’t really mind.

As I said, you can read this in one sitting but it will be a book that you’ll want to re-read for its honest depictions of love, marriage, motherhood and fidelity.