Patricia Wellingham-Jones — Gail Godwin’s novel The Good Husband (Ballantine Books, 1994) is about two marriages and the four people who lived them, exploring how we influence and transform each other.
Francis Lake was a young seminarian when Magda Danvers swept into his life to give a lecture on her controversial book about visionaries. To the surprise of both, they shortly married and lived a nontraditional but satisfying life, Magda pursuing her academic career, Francis caring for home and her. After twenty years, Magda developed the cancer she called the Gargoyle that ultimately killed her. Still charismatic and outrageous, she reigned from her bed, making such pronouncements as “Mates are not always matches, and matches are not always mates,” facing her “Final Examination” with curiosity.
As the disease gnawed at her, fewer people came, among them Alice Henry, seeking refuge from her own tragedy and crumbling marriage to Southern novelist Hugo Henry.
The novel captures well the work of dying; it also reverberates with love and kindness, fear and pain, digging deeply into the longings of the heart. Godwin writes with grace and insight, unafraid of intimacy. She avoids fairy tale endings, yet conveys throughout the hope and healing to be found in life.
Drawings of misericords, a subtheme of the book, enliven each chapter. Gail Godwin has written these other New York Times bestsellers – A Mother and Two Daughters, The Finishing School, A Southern Family, and Father Melancholy’s Daughter.
About the Author
Patricia Wellingham-Jones is a former psychology researcher and writer/editor with an interest in healing writing and the benefits of writing and reading work together. Widely published in poetry and nonfiction, she writes for the review department of Recovering the Self: a journal of hope and healing and has authored ten chapbooks of poetry.