“May Sarton’s provocative novel is about a wife who has outgrown her husband, and after twenty-seven years of marriage decides that she has had enough. . . . [Poppy] is altogether believable.” —The Atlantic
To their close friend Philip, Poppy and Reed Whitelaw’s marriage appears stable and happy. Their ritual Sunday tennis matches and dinners are a highlight of his week, and the Whitelaws’ repartee is an object of wonder and admiration. But beneath the surface, the marriage has slowly been unraveling for years. An artist, Poppy feels the weight of time, calculating that she has twenty good years left for her work and little remaining tolerance for her diminishing marriage. And so, as newscasts about Vietnam and Watergate issue nightly warnings about the dangers of deceit and delusion, Poppy has decided to leave.
The separation guts Philip, who finds that his investment in the affairs of his friends outweighs his investment in his own. The relationship between the three friends had often been riven by jealousy, and the cataclysm of the Whitelaws’ separation does little to lessen anxieties roiling beneath the surface. As those in the Whitelaws’ orbit struggle to adjust to their new reality, a world of buried feelings rise inevitably to the fore.