Four people enter into a swingers relationship where they swap partners, but jealousy and pettiness cause problems. The main character is an unnamed college professor who writes unsuccessful historical novels on the side.
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The narrator's wife is called Utchka, or Utch. She is from a small Austrian village. When she was a girl the russians invaded her town during world war two and rapped and killed her mother whilst she hid inside the corpse of a cow. She was found after three days in this cow, and then raised by the towns folk. She later moved to Vienna to get away from her terrible past.
The narrator and his wife have two friends that they are very fond of; Severin and Edith. They are actually attracted to these two people but do not act upon their urges because they are married.
Edith was at prep school, then travelled around Europe before she met her husband. She is from a privileged background, is an aspiring fiction writer, and works for the New York Museum of Modern Art. She met her husband whilst buying art in Vienna. Severin is an arrogant Viennese professor of German but his main passion is being the coach of the school's wrestling team.
Edith and the narrator baby sit their children together and get to know one another very intimately. They exchange ideas and discuss literature. Utch and Severin also spend a lot of time together and bond over the fact that they both speak german.
After much deliberation they decide that Severin and the narrators should trade wives for a night to see what it is like.
The narrator has sex with Edith in Severins house. The room is covered in very sexual portraits of a woman who it is revealed is Severin's mother.
The narrator enjoyed his time with Edith and Utch enjoyed her time with Severin. The narrator becomes jealous but decides to repress this emotion for Utch's happiness, and so that he can see Edith again.
Months go by and Severin become unhappy with the arrangement. He doesn't like The narrators involvement with his women, and continuously tries to undermine him and humiliate him.
The group appeal to Severin to stop this behaviour our admit that he doesn't want to "Swing" anymore. Severin blames the rest of them for being paranoid and says he wants to continue.
Severin and Utch begin to keep secrets from the others, and Utch stops wanting to have sex with the narrator, only Severin. The narrator becomes wildly jealous and tries to convince Edith to run away with him but she refuses.
Edith begins to panic and questions the whole arrangement but the narrator convinces her to keep going. Severin begin to torture both Edith and the narrator by only talking in German and pretending to have Utch give him a blow job in the front of the car whilst they sit in the back. He drives them to say that they don't want to be in this relationship anymore.
The narrator and Utch become bored with their two person relationship, they miss the others. Utch appeals to Severin and Edith to rejoin them but they won't.
It is revealed that Severine previously had an affair with a disabled athlete that drove Edith mad with Jealousy. The entire relationship was just a way to get back at him for betraying her. She coerced Severin into the relationship, threatening to leave him is he didn't sleep with Utch.
Utch become seriously depressed because she can't have Severin and wants a divorce.
In a last ditch attempt to save their sex life, Utch take the narrator to the old wrestling ring that she used to have sex with Severin in and asks him to pretend to be Severin. The narrator can't and this is the last time they even come close to intimacy.
Utch takes the children and goes to Austria. She steals the narrators passport so that he can't follow her. Severin and Edith also disappear to Austria.
The narrator receives a letter from Utch saying everything is fine. In the back of the envelope is his passport.
Best part of story, including ending:
I felt that is was emotionally disturbing, but very realistic.
Best scene in story:
I enjoyed the introduction of Utch because she led such an interesting and tragic life before the events of the book.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike the unnamed narrators ability to love two women, yet hate the fact that his wife loves two men,