This is a very different novel. It’s a collage of thoughts pasted together to paint a picture of a marriage and family. The reader lives inside the mind of “the wife,” as the main character is referred to in the novel. She jumps around through unrelated thoughts, times, and events. The story is loving, sad, funny, angry… It keeps you reading.
One strange thing the author does is to use first person in the first half of the book and a strange sort of third person in the second half, which feels like first person with the main character referring to herself as the wife, as if she is on the outside watching her life. She doesn’t use names — “the husband” she adores, hates, loves; “the daughter” she would die for but who can be difficult and more than frustrating; “the sister” who gives advice; and “the philosopher,” “the old boyfriend,” etc.
This is a literary novel. I know I’ve said before that I don’t like literary novels and mostly that’s true. But I keep finding exceptions. Dept. of Speculation is a good read. I will look for an earlier novel by Jenny Offill.