What does the "tradition of marriage" really look like? In A History of Marriage, Elizabeth Abbott paints an often surprising picture of this most public, yet most intimate, institution. Ritual of romance, or social obligation? Eternal bliss, or cult of domesticity? Abbott reveals a complex tradition that includes same-sex unions, arranged marriages, dowries, self-marriages, and child brides. Marriage—in all its loving, unloving, decadent, and impoverished manifestations—is revealed here through Abbott's infectious curiosity.