“ok”Shari wrote this review Friday, January 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It’s been a while but it seems I’ve found a new author. Don’t you love it when that happens? The best parallel I can make is Richard Yates who, as you know all to well, is one of my favourite writers. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler explores the same unsatisfying reality of everyday life of Yates’ novels and the amazing knack that we have of ignoring underlying frustrations and unhappiness in favour of family cohesion and, we think, ‘happiness’. I have been told that Anne Tyler’s subjects and plots are not quite so narrow as Yates but her writing still reads with the same fluidity and, with the risk of sounding corny, beauty.
The novel really gets under your skin. I found myself welling up multiple times at seemingly insubstantial events and constantly seeking for a character to blame every time something ‘went wrong’. By the end, I came to the realisation that everyone and no one is to blame and how strikingly the novel is a reflection of life, whether the individual events are relevant or not.
I’ve made the whole book sound incredibly serious and yes, there are profound narrative threads running through it, but it’s a more enjoyable read than that – and there’s definite humour, as in every family. The blurb puts it best: “Anne Tyler captures the nuances of everyday life with telling precision and sly humour”. You can simply read it for its writing, for its characters and be as subjective or objective as you like. There is something and someone in this book for everyone.
“I liked the book until the last couple of chapters. I didn't like the fact that the couple got divorced or that Lindy never came back until after Pauline passed away. ”Maryellen wrote this review Thursday, September 6, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Tyler breathes life into her characters with love and empathy that grow on the reader to the last sentence. ”Marathon Man wrote this review Friday, August 24, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“liked it”jean caramanna wrote this review Wednesday, June 20, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Book Group score: 7.5”Georgia wrote this review Thursday, May 31, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is not among my favourite books. I only finished it because that's what I do.... I finish books. Plus I read it on my way to India and didn't have anything else to read. But honestly, why would anyone want to hear blow by blow details of a couple's marital arguments? This book just goes on and on - the characters are not likeable and the plot is endlessly dull. She writes well, but she needs a story worth telling.
Because Tyler writes with scrupulous accuracy about muddled, unglamorous suburbanites, it is easy to underestimate her as a sort of Pyrex realist. Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class's Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn't share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed. Her latest novel delineates, in careful strokes, the 30-year marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, and its dissolution. In December 1941 in St. Cassians, a mainly Eastern European conclave in Baltimore, 20-year-old Michael meets Pauline and is immediately smitten. They marry after Michael is discharged from the army, but their temperaments don't mix. For Michael, self-control is the greatest of virtues; for Pauline, expression is what makes us human. She is compulsively friendly, a bad hider of emotions, selfish in her generosity ("my homeless man") and generous in her selfishness. At Pauline's urging, the two move to the suburbs, where they raise three children, George, Karen and Lindy. Lindy runs away in 1960 and never comes back-although in 1968, Pauline and Michael retrieve Pagan, Lindy's three-year-old, from her San Francisco landlady while Lindy detoxes in a rehab community that her parents aren't allowed to enter. Michael and Pauline got married at a time when the common wisdom, expressed by Pauline's mother, was that "marriages were like fruit trees.... Those trees with different kinds of branches grafted onto the trunks. After a time, they meld, they grow together, and... if you tried to separate them you would cause a fatal wound." They live into an era in which the accumulated incompatibilities of marriage end, logically, in divorce. For Michael, who leaves Pauline on their 30th anniversary, divorce is redemption. For Pauline, the divorce is, at first, a tragedy; gradually, separation becomes a habit. A lesser novelist would take moral sides, using this story to make a didactic point. Tyler is much more concerned with the fine art of human survival in changing circumstances. The range and power of this novel should not only please Tyler's immense readership but also awaken us to the collective excellency of her career.”
“A bit sad, but well written”Anna N wrote this review Tuesday, May 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Michael and Pauline met accidentally the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. With the fervor of the war propelling them, they get married, even though they appear to be opposites. Michael is soft-spoken and logical; Pauline is extroverted and spontaneous. The tumultuous sixties take their toll on Michael, Pauline, and their three children, and their lives are never the same afterwards.
Anne Tyler's books can be hit or miss, but she never fails to deliver the most interesting characters. This was one of her better novels, although I wouldn't rank it up there with her best. There were several characters I didn't really like much, and several more who I waffled back and forth on, but by the end of the book Tyler had crafted all of her characters so well that you couldn't really dislike any of them. They were just all so human.”
“10.6 hrs - borrowed from dunlap library - From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage—and its consequences, spanning three generations. They seemed like the perfect couple—young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married. Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable. From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counterculture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayered apparel of later years, Anne Tyler captures the evocative nuances of everyday life during these decades with such telling precision that every page brings smiles of recognition. Throughout, as each of the competing voices bears witness, we are drawn ever more fully into the complex entanglements of family life in this wise, embracing, and deeply perceptive novel. From the Hardcover edition.”Catherine E wrote this review Sunday, May 20, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No