As such, we see the couple doing boring, happy things. They acquire furniture, get a dog and agree that the husband will take care of home repairs and pest control while the wife will do the dishes and the laundry. “Do you even want to get into a discussion of gender roles here,” Crane asks parenthetically, “or can we accept that they both chose chores that they minded least or maybe even liked?” They go to couples therapy, decide they don’t need it and eventually go back again.
We are accustomed to reading about terrible divorces. You could fill an entire bookstore with memoirs containing scenes of dishes thrown across rooms, $500-an-hour lawyers, psychologically ravaged children and surgically enhanced replacement wives. What is less familiar, at least on the page, are stories of marriages that die from no known cause. As such, “This Story Will Change” is not so much a memoir about a divorce as a case study of one marriage and what killed it. It’s not a matter of who’s guilty, but what caused the marriage to end seemingly before its time. The wife may be baffled, but she’s full of theories about what went wrong and why. She wasn’t good enough at making the bed or at cooking or camping. The bed and sofa were both too large, putting too much space between them.
“Her main theory about a real and long-term relationship was that it shouldn’t be that hard,” Crane writes. “Show up, compromise, say what you mean to the best of your ability.”
This works well enough, until it doesn’t. Is it a spoiler to say that the jury for her case is still out?
“This story so much wants to have a happy ending but it’s probably just going to have an ending,” Crane writes. “Maybe the happy part comes at the beginning of the next one.”
Maybe we’ll get a sequel.
Meghan Daum’s latest book is “The Problem With Everything.” She is the host of “The Unspeakable” podcast and co-host, with Sarah Haider, of the podcast “A Special Place in Hell.”
ALL OF THIS, by Rebecca Woolf | 233 pp. | HarperOne | $26.99
THIS STORY WILL CHANGE, by Elizabeth Crane | 256 pp. | Counterpoint | $26