Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

Jenny Offill’s ( and slender and cannily paced novel, her second, assembles fragments, observations, meditations and different points of view to chart the course of a troubled marriage.

Wry and devastating in equal measure, the novel is a cracked mirror that throws light in every direction — on music and literature; science and philosophy; marriage and motherhood and infidelity; and especially love and the gruelling rigours of domestic life. Part elegy and part primal scream, this book is a profound and buoyant piece of writing.

The summary is as follows. They used to send each other letters. The return address was always the same: Dept. of Speculation. They used to be young, brave, and giddy with hopes for their future. They got married, had a child, and skated through all the small calamities of family life. But then, slowly, quietly things change. As the years pass by, fears creep in and doubts accumulate until finally their life together cracks apart and they find themselves forced to re-assess what they have lost, what is left, and what they want now. This is a lucid and poetic account of a modern marriage. Dark, funny and wise, will you find any resonances with your own life? Only one way to find out.

Enquire at your local public library. Check if this challenging fiction is in stock by consulting the online catalogue at  Home | South Lanarkshire Libraries (

179 pages in Vintage paperback edition

First published by Granta on 6 Mar 2014

ISBN 978-0345806871

Jenny Offill

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