The Kept Man

The Kept Man

by Jami Attenberg

Overview: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.

Faith Bowers (08/21/14): Thank you Arlene, for sharing The Kept Man. Having just finished the book, I think that the turning point in Jarvis's life was well written. The character development of Jarvis and her husband Martin was best with many of the other characters one sided to make the book a good read.
Rating: ***

Arlene Almas (07/31/14): What would life be like for a young woman happily married to an up-and-coming artist whose husband lapses into a coma after an accident? The woman, Jarvis, has been living in this devastating condition for six years, calling herself a “half-widow,” and paying for her husband’s life support by gradually selling off his paintings. After all these years of dealing with doctors, nursing homes, medical technology, transportation to and from the home so she can see her husband every week, and keeping herself financially afloat with the help of her husband’s art dealer who arranges the sales of his artwork, Jarvis realizes she can no longer carry on this way and begins to hope for her husband’s death. At this time she meets a little “Kept Man Club” at the laundromat, so-called because the three men are supported by their breadwinner wives; they are handsome, interesting, and friendly, and Jarvis continues to socialize with them weekly. She has been so starved for companionship and enjoyment that now she at last starts to see the possibility of family and friendship in her life. Jarvis learns of a collection of her husband’s photographs, which served as templates for his paintings, and seizes them from the art dealer’s office. From these photos she discovers aspects of her husband’s life that he meant to keep secret, and which cause her to feel betrayed just at the moment when she feels she must make a decision which will have family and public repercussions regarding her husband’s medical condition. The author describes Jarvis’ thoughts and feelings, and her interactions with other characters, with such clarity that the reader comes to know and understand her with an appreciation beyond sympathy. Due to her own actions, we can see a future for Jarvis more full of life and pleasure than she herself could have imagined such a short time ago.
Rating: *****

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