Another Marvelous Thing

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Billy (more properly, Josephine) Delielle and Francis Clemens (only Billy calls him Frank) meet at a cocktail party given by a magazine to which they both contribute. Billy’s husband and Francis’ wife are both out of town, and Billy and Francis almost accidentally begin the intense but unlikely relationship with which ANOTHER MARVELOUS THING is concerned.

All eight of the stories in this book treat some aspect of the love affair, though each story is autonomous, capable of being read independently of the others.

Billy and Francis are living proof that opposites attract, and ANOTHER MARVELOUS THING can be said to explain why that cliche holds true. Billy is young, plain, badly dressed, and disorganized. She lives in an expensive, but drab, brownstone with her husband, Grey, an economist whom she has known all of her life. When she and Francis make love, it is on the shabby couch in her study, beneath a threadbare quilt.

Francis, on the other hand, is middle-aged, foppish, and extremely fastidious. He and his interior designer wife, Vera, live in an artfully decorated house full of beautiful objects. He is inordinately fond of possessions, and he relishes good food (Billy never feeds him anything more exotic than canned soup). Though both he and Billy are economists, they cannot even agree about economic theory.

This engaging collection of stories--each with its own distinctive emphasis and point of view--traces Billy and Frank’s affair from inception to conclusion, saying much along the way about why two ostensibly happily married people seek diversion and relief in each other.