352 pages; Vintage
Doug Willis is a man who's holed up in his country place after his wife and kids go back to town. His marriage is in a bad state, and he's obviously in some kind of midlife crisis. I'm so intrigued by how Gates describes the fantasy world of men, and how many of them want to be the kind of guy who can talk about engines, who knows Keith Richards guitar chords—as if that's going to matter in your 40s. I can see why women might only be able to read this as a science experiment, a sort of "Look what happens to men when you pull their wings off!" But there's a very tender note struck in the last scene. The couple has decided to split up, and Willis walks out late at night. Gates has taken you to a point where you think their relationship is irredeemable, but he shows there's that thing you can't put in the equation. The wife still goes after him. I found that quite moving—that in the end love feels like that, like familiarity.
— Colin Firth