Christine on Goodreads wrote:
Although I could not turn the pages quickly enough, I did not want The Forever Marriage to end. This is the story of imperfect people who are realistic because of their flaws. Carmen, a college student, accidentally meets Jobe, a brilliant mathematician, while in London. Despite the many differences between them and the red flags flying in Carmen's face, they ultimately marry.
By the time of the wedding, Carmen has been living with Jobe's wealthy family for months and has become close to Jobe's parents, especially his mother, Olive. Despite what seem like ideal circumstances, Carmen is not in love with Jobe and almost becomes a runaway bride. Instead she marries out of guilt and a sense of obligation.
Because Jobe seems incapable of providing the kind of love Carmen craves, they drift even farther apart, and Carmen begins a long-term affair. The marriage plods along even after the births of three children, the oldest of whom has Down Syndrome. After Jobe is diagnosed with cancer, Carmen cannot find a way to love him, even when his condition is terminal. A part of her views his inevitable death as a way out.
Carmen herself is diagnosed with breast cancer. She and her beloved mother-in-law become even closer, and Olive reveals startling secrets of her own. Carmen reflects on her marriage, in light of Olive's confession, and reaches conclusions that surprise her.
Ann Bauer is a wonderful storyteller. I was prepared to dislike Carmen and feel pity for Jobe. After all, I asked myself, how could I like a seemingly cold-hearted woman like Carmen? I liked her because Ms. Bauer made her real, flaws and all, as she did with each character in the story.
The Forever Marriage is a moving, unforgettable love story. I recommend it to everyone who appreciates the beauty of excellent writing and character development.
I picked this up at my local library--had never heard of the book or the author before but am now interested in reading more by her. Interesting story and character development. In a nutshell, while Carmen's husband is dying, she's having an affair. Shortly after his death, she is diagnosed with breast cancer (this is what killed her mother). Her father's an alcoholic, her eldest son has Down syndrome and she's not a huge fan of her mother-in-law (the feeling is mutual). I would highly recommend this for a book club read or to read on your own if you're not in a book club, especially if you like books that introduce you to complex characters.