Skip to Main Content

This “gorgeous and heartbreaking” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author) portrait of marriage explores the long union of a middle-aged couple as they grapple with secrets, illness, and loyalty from the author of the “original, profound novel” (Lee Smith, author of On Agate Hill) Seen the Glory.

Pete and Jackie were high school sweethearts. Everyone expected them to marry immediately but an explosive incident tore them apart before graduation. It took years for the two to heal and finally come back together. Now, decades later, they face an uncertain future with their only child out on her own and alarming news about Jackie’s health.

Determined to stay positive, the two travel to their Cape hometown for a book signing of Pete’s debut novel. But when a disastrous encounter in the bookstore with an old classmate brings their long relationship to the breaking point, they are forced to examine their marriage and explore their deepest feelings.

A “riveting exploration of the challenges and complexities of a long, loving marriage” (Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life), The Sweetest Days is a rich, vivid, and enthralling look at the roads taken and not taken in love and life.

Photo Credit: Melanie deForest

John Hough Jr. is the author of five previous novels, including Seen the Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Gettysburg, winner of the American Library Association’s 2010 W.Y. Boyd Award, The Last Summer, and three works of nonfiction. He is a graduate of Haverford College, a former VISTA volunteer, speech writer for Senator Charles Mathias of Maryland, and assistant to James Reston at the Washington Bureau of The New York Times. He grew up in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and now lives on Martha’s Vineyard.

"An elegant novel, evocative of the great books that first made me want to be a writer —A Separate Peace, Rabbit, Run. The writing is gorgeous and heartbreaking, the story of love and privilege engrossing, and the dialogue nothing short of brilliant. I found myself in this novel’s thrall.”—Elin Hilderbrand, bestselling author of Summer of ’69

“A riveting exploration of the challenges and complexities of a long, loving marriage. John Hough's economical prose and sharp dialogue cut to the heart of the secrets and longings that hold people together even while threatening to tear them apart. This is an insightful and beautifully written novel that will please readers of Richard Russo, David Gates, and even Raymond Carver. Urgent, unsentimental, and very much of the moment.”—Stephen McCauley, author of The Object of My Affection

"Mesmerizing...A gorgeously crafted study of the passions and betrayals, loyalties and regrets that make up a lifelong marriage. Heartwrenching. Profound. And utterly unforgettable."—Tish Cohen, author of The Summer We Lost Her

"With a keen and compassionate eye, Hough takes us inside a flawed but deeply felt marriage. Poignant, wry, and exquisitely written, this novel shows how fragile the ties that bind can be, and how precious."—Jenny Allen, author of Thurber Prize finalist Would Everybody Please Stop?

“Evocative...the writing is spare and seamless… Hough is without doubt a proficient craftsman.”Publishers Weekly

"[B]rilliant, wise, and often heartbreaking."  —The MV (Martha's Vineyard) Times

"Hough writes everything with a crisp narrative snap that never fails to be interesting.... Almost every character in Hough’s novel is fascinating, multi-layered and often unpredictable." —The Vineyard Gazette

"A long, loving marriage, realistically portrayed, with frights and hurts, but warmth and intimacy, too... powerfully evocative." —Sullivan County Democrat

More books from this author: John Hough Jr.