Truth and Consequences is another top-notch novel already on my list of favorite books read in 2007. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alison Lurie weaves a complicated web of two couples whose lives become entangled to a point where lies and unsaid truths are the name of the game. The novel opens on Jane Mackenzie looking over at her husband and realizing that she doesn't recognize him. She's in denial with the fact that Alan has aged considerably since a back injury curtailed his everyday routine. She fell in love with his athletic body and his brilliant mind, but now he's overweight, no longer interested in life, and spends his days calling to her for help. She remains the dutiful wife; if she was happy with him for 16 years of marriage, she reasons, she should return this happiness by taking care of him during this difficult time. Surely there is an end in sight, and Jane hopes that Alan will return to his normal healthy energetic self. Unfortunately, things don't get better, and in fact continue to get worse.
Jane and Alan work for the same university, Jane as administrator for the Matthew Unger Humanities Center. One of her duties is to organize groups of university fellows from all over the world to come to the university to conduct lectures and classes. This group in particular brings Delia Delaney, a now-famous writer who is also known to be "difficult". It is this woman who brings havoc to Jane and Alan's already stressed lives.
Delia Delaney is endowed with a pre-Raphaelite beauty, and she knows how to charm. Jane and Alan seem to be the only holdouts; the rest of the campus faculty has fallen in love with the flamboyant writer. Delia gets her way, often using her migraines as a way to sway others to do her bidding. While Jane isn't looking, Delia woos Alan, whose office she craves with a passion. Soon, it isn't just the office she wants - it appears her interests are turning to Alan as well.
Delia's husband, Henry Hull, is also staying at the university, and Jane's first encounters with him are nothing but pleasant. But as her frustrations over Alan progress, she learns that Delia's migraines are as debilitating as Alan's injured back, and soon she and Henry become friends. Their first common bond is that misery loves company, but she finds that Henry is a much better companion than Alan ever was. Jane's friendship with Henry is accompanied by huge guilt; while nothing has actually happened between the two, there is an obvious mutual attraction. Jane enjoys her time away from Alan, who only seems to need Jane as a caregiver - there is nothing else going on in their relationship anymore. Jane's only consoling thought is that, despite Delia's charms on the rest of the university community, it appears that Alan is immune to it. She has no idea how wrong she is. Alan has become obsessed with the woman, doing everything he can to spend as much time with Delia as long as he can, never letting on to Jane that he is having any contact with her at all.
An absorbing story of four lives entangled by circumstances and fate, Truth and Consequences is one of those books that I couldn't put down. Alison Lurie does an excellent job of getting into the heads of Jane and Alan, while secondary characters Delia and Henry are still equally important to the storyline. Precise writing and attention to detail make this novel work. The story of the death of a relationship, Truth and Consequences gets a big recommendation from this reader.