Wanting Wrong

The narrator of Miranda Popkey’s first novel, Topics of Conversation, is the daughter of an old Hollywood family, now in gentle decline. Her nice, white life “was going to be suburban, it was going to be upper-middle-class,” but she throws all that into disarray when she decides to leave her husband, John, who loves her. She does this despite the fact that he was “so kind and so supportive and emotionally generous and a good listener...everything a liberated woman is supposed to want.” Her remorse is partly political: How can a woman refuse all that for herself, when it is exactly what she wants for women in general? Her regret is also, in part, simply human—she does not love a man who loves her, and the pain he feels when she leaves him makes her feel badly about herself.
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