Review

Envy

by Kathryn Harrison



Will Moreland heads to his twenty-fifth college reunion with a
pretty confident sense of his life. He's a successful
psychoanalyst, he has a perfect daughter and a wonderful wife whom
he loves deeply. On the surface, he has it all together. Despite
all this apparent perfection, though, Will's fa├žade starts to
crumble when his Cornell classmates incessantly ask questions about
Will's identical twin brother Mitch, a long-distance swimmer who
has multi-million dollar endorsement deals and whose face graces
the cover of Sports Illustrated. Will and Mitch have been
estranged for years, ever since Mitch disappeared after offering
the best man's toast at Will's marriage to his wife Carole.

Out of sorts about everyone's interest in Mitch, who's not even at
the reunion, Will has a tense and confrontational conversation with
Elizabeth, an old college girlfriend. Will reveals that his young
son died in a boating accident three years before. He then
confronts Elizabeth, whom he believes may have been pregnant with
his child when they graduated from college. He demands to receive a
strand of the young woman's hair in order to run a paternity test.
Elizabeth accuses Will of being ridiculous, of using this
hypothetical daughter to reclaim his dead son.

Back in Brooklyn with his family, Will finds himself growing
increasingly anxious and distracted. He feels that his sex life
with his wife Carole lacks intimacy, and he resents Carole's
seeming ability to control her own emotions by practicing yoga. At
his therapy sessions, Will begins to fantasize about his female
patients and confesses his obsessions to his own psychoanalyst and
to his father, who has recently begun a new career and an affair of
his own. When a strangely alluring young woman with her own sexual
agenda begins seeing Will for therapy, Will finds his marriage, his
career, and his own sense of his personal and sexual history
falling apart.

Kathryn Harrison's previous works have been filled with the
obsessions and betrayals of deeply complex characters, as well as
with themes of sexual transgression. Likewise, ENVY is both
powerfully erotic and, at times, deeply disturbing, as it deals
with betrayal, rape and incest (a theme explored in many of
Harrison's works, including her memoir THE KISS). Her writing is by
turns lyrical and hilarious, and Harrison writes about sex with a
frank rawness that will shock some readers and leave others
marveling at the skillfulness with which she writes about taboo
topics.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on January 21, 2011

Envy
by Kathryn Harrison

  • Publication Date: July 12, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 1400063469
  • ISBN-13: 9781400063468