The Ragged Way People Fall out of Love Summary

Elizabeth Cox

The Ragged Way People Fall out of Love

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Molly is forty-two years old, the mother of three, a painter and a fledgling student of astronomy. She is not completely surprised when her husband, William, announces that he does not love her anymore, yet at the same time she has trouble believing him. She imagines that two people who share a common past might be bonded in certain ways as irrevocably as two companion stars. “What if the stars and their companions are subject to the same rules we understand for ourselves?” she writes in her notebook.

THE RAGGED WAY PEOPLE FALL OUT OF LOVE chronicles Molly’s life during the span from Will’s initial declaration to the divorce’s finalization. In this interval, Molly grows keenly aware of how she is part of a large constellation of relationships. Among those whose lives orbit hers are Isaac Belcher, a strange man without family or home, and Louise and Sig Penry, a couple that shelters needy children. Through Molly, Isaac finds a place for himself of the Penrys’ farm. New friendships such as these and a deepening romance with her astronomy professor, help Molly begin to pursue a life apart from Will. Yet when tragedy strikes one of their children, the bonds between them appear in sharp relief.

Elixabeth Cox has a sharp eye for the telling detail and a keen talent for finding the perfect metaphor. Although several dramatic scenes lose power when related by her carefully refined voice, Cox’s poetic prose otherwise suits Molly’s tale of discovery admirably.