If I were trying to describe this book to someone, it would sound terribly unappealing: The main characters are Sandrine, the deceased wife, and her husband Sam, who is on trial for Sandrine's murder. They are both academics, and are not likable people. Sandrine, with her constant and effete harping on kindness, is a bloodless stick figure who mostly speaks in other people's quotations and who thinks far too highly of herself and her ideals. Sam seems more real, but is also cynical, self-centered, arrogant, and pompous. They make quite a pair.
The story follows the murder trial as well as Sam's constant recollections of his life with Sandrine. Most of the action is internal, as Sam comes to understand that (at least from his wife's point of view) his life took a wrong turn somewhere.
This sounds like the type of pretentious and affected literary fiction that I avoid, although plot and pacing were handled deftly. The ending was about what I expected.
But Cook's prose hooked me right away. It's a pleasure to read--elegant, stylish, and perfectly suited to his characters--and I didn't want to stop. And there was something morbidly fascinating about Sam's somewhat forced journey of self discovery. I'm not sure it's a book I would recommend widely, but it was different and interesting enough that I did enjoy reading it.