Cover image for The dangerous husband : a novel
The dangerous husband : a novel
Shapiro, Jane, 1942-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Little, Brown and Co., [1999]

Physical Description:
249 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


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In The Dangerous Husband, they meet and almost immediately fall in love. Like everyone, they have been alone. He is perfect for her - charming and sexy and awkward and sweet. They are forty; it is time for them to marry and shelter each other. When the honeymoon ends, as honeymoons always do, real life begins, with its surprises. He trips up stairs, falls going down. He cooks a tasty dinner and the kitchen ends up looking like a slaughterhouse. Absorbed in sexual experimentation, he shatters the coffee table. He tenderly wrenches her neck; he breaks her arm. It was turning out that my husband's dishevelment was incomparable, potent, ramifying. It could destroy whole little worlds. It will surely destroy her. Unless she can kill him first.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

People meet, fall in love, and get married, to eventually become estranged. This is common fodder for the novelist, but in Shapiro's new book, the relationship is unlike any you have ever read about before. Our narrator (never named) and Dennis, both fortysomething, meet at a Thanksgiving dinner and hit it off with a passion and connection that brings them shortly to marriage. Dennis has money and a Brooklyn Heights town house, into which our narrator moves all her possessions, including the photography equipment with which she makes her living. Dennis's demeanor, which has always seemed enthusiastic to extremes, becomes more extreme; wild gestures that caused spills now cause bodily injury. More often than not, he damages someone other than himself. Their friends desert them; injured squash partners move away--far away. She comes to the realization after split lips, bruises, broken bones--all accidentally delivered--that if she doesn't do something, she will be killed. She considers a hit man, then running away, but her love for Dennis always stops her. Their pets die. She researches poisons. And then . . . But you must read this funny, bizarre novel yourself. --Danise Hoover

Publisher's Weekly Review

Veering skillfully between hilarity, suspense and surreal pathos, Shapiro's eagerly awaited second novel (after the highly praised Moondog, 1992) again demonstrates her witty take on the battle of the sexes. The narrator, whose wry and sophisticated voice is an ear-perfect blend of wisecracks, aper‡us and mounting frenzy, describes the dizzy rapture of falling in love, at 40, with a wealthy ex-sociology professor and would-be novelist, and their whirlwind marriage. She soon discovers that her new husband, Dennis, is a major klutz, constantly tripping, falling, spilling, colliding, bumping and lurchingÄand breaking objects and bones. His total misperception of spatial relationships begins to assume dangerous dimensions after he variously crushes his now-alarmed wife's toe with a hot skillet, wrenches her neck, drops her on a tile floor, breaks her arm by hugging her, gives her a concussion in circumstances she cannot describe, raises a giant hematoma by trodding on her leg and in general leaves her black and blueÄand scared to death. Dennis's maladroitness always has a hilarious edge: on the verge of sex, he perches on a glass coffee table that predictably shatters: "Daggers flew up and he landed in shards." In fact, Dennis is more than a little strange; he never tells his bride that he's been married several times before, or discusses what became of his former wives. He keeps an albino frog in a bucket in the basement, lavishes affection on a hyper dog who pees on the rug, and has driven his neurotic cat into permanent hiding. "This was the kind of person my husband was: strange, loving, lethal," the narrator muses, gradually realizing that to prevent her own accidental mutilated demise, Dennis "really needed to be dead." When she engages a suave and sexy hit man (he's also a novelist) to do the deed, the narrative moves into beautifully controlled farce. The reader springs through this book in a state of giddy anticipation and nervous laughter. Even the narrator's occupation adds an edge to the clever premiseÄshe is a photographer obsessed with capturing reality, but trapped in a surreal situation. Shapiro takes risks here, but she acquits herself triumphantly. Author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Shapiro's 40-year-old heroine finally meets a man worth marrying, but will she survive his never-ending stream of accidents? The author's debut, After Moondog, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.