Title: The Unnamed
Author: Joshua Ferris
Release Date: January 18, 2010
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Tim Farnsworth is a hardworking and honest man. He is a lawyer at a law firm in New York, and is married to a woman he dearly loves, Jane. He is happy and healthy, except for a couple of previous lapses in which an unidentifiable sickness took over and almost decimated him.
Now the sickness is back, and Tim is unsure what that means for himself and his family. In this poignant novel, Joshua Ferris explores the limits of marriage and the depth of love that can bind two people together.
The Unnamed is a beautifully written study of a marriage under stress due to an illness. Tim’s sickness is strange and difficult to understand. There is no physical evidence for what’s wrong with him, so one can’t help but wonder if his issues are psychological. This is never fully resolved in the novel, and leaves the reader thinking about the difference between physical and psychological illnesses – if it’s “all in someone’s head,” is it more difficult to deal with? Is it less easy to live with if a disease is a physical manifestation of one’s own psychological issues?
Tim and Jane are an amazing couple whose love really is tested in The Unnamed. The lengths they have to go to in order to be together and care for one another really is moving. At the same time, it begs the question, at what point is it enough? During previous instances of this illness, Jane has had to quit her job in order to care for Tim, and there is no end in sight. Itexamines the strain an illness puts on a family and makes the reader think and question what they would do in the given situation.
Ferris does an incredible job portraying a realistic marriage in The Unnamed, one in which there is give and take but also selfishness on both sides. He captures that tension wonderfully, at the same time he portrays their devotion to one another. It is an amazing study that is as eye-opening as it is beautiful.
Though I read Joshua Ferris’ previous novel, Then We Came To The End, it was The Unnamed that really captured my imagination. This is a unique book that is as moving at it is wonderfully written. I definitely recommend it.