I jumped at the chance to read A Complicated Marriage, Janice Van Horne’s memoir of her life married to one of the biggest art critics back in the day, Clement Greenberg. She starts her story with how they met in New York City in the 1950s and works her way through their life together (and separate).
I really loved this book and would recommend it to anyone remotely interested in NYC in the 50s, 60s, 70s. I really know nothing about art, especially the modern art scene, but I was fascinated by Van Horne’s account of the times and the people who filled her and Greenberg’s lives. What I really loved was how open and honest she was through the whole thing. When she and Clem first met and married, she was just out of college, and very insecure about herself, which then of course made her insecure around Clem’s circle of artist friends.
I was intrigued by the way Van Horne came to feel so suffocated as a housewife. She didn’t really have many hobbies for the first years of their marriage, and it ended up taking a toll on the relationship. Janice married Clem before she really knew herself. It took her learning about herself and finding herself to be able to really work on the marriage.
Clem and Janice definitely had their fair share of ups and downs, and while I know I’ll never be able to do an “open marriage” like they did for a time, I do understand why they did it. Janice was very honest through the whole book about why she did certain things, even about the times she made big mistakes.
I am a sucker for a good book about relationships, and this one was great because it was a real relationship. I am by no means a marriage counselor and have never been divorced or anything like that, but I do feel that some couples separate when they could have worked hard to make things better and to get to know each other all over again. This book was a nice reminder that while things may not be perfect, as long as you are happy together and work to be with each other, you can make things work (if you are both on board of course). Some people might say, “Well, this was a weird relationship and I never would have stuck around..”, but I loved reading about it!
There is a lot of details about people in the art scene, and then later the theatre scene in this book, so if you want a fluffy memoir, this is definitely not for you. Also I think if you want a fairytale romance story that is all happily ever after, you probably won’t enjoy this one like I did.
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to read this book!
Title: A Complicated Marriage: My Life with Clement Greenberg
Author: Janice Van Horne
Date of Publication: 2013
Number of Pages: 352
Source: TLC Tours