Saturday, August 29, 2009

133 - Revolutionary Road; Richard Yates


I was amazed to read that Revolutionary Road was the first published novel of Richard Yates. Set in the 1950's, Revolutionary Road introduces the the reader to the not so perfect lives of Frank and April Wheeler.
To outsiders, the Wheelers seemed like a couple who has everything going for them. They were living the "perceived American Dream" in the suburbs of Connecticut on Revolutionary Road. April was beautiful, and social. Frank was more reserved, but according to their real estate agent Mrs Givings, "I think that boy must do something very brilliant in town".

The truth about the Wheelers was that they were: miserable. Frank has a boring job he loathes at the same company his father had worked for all his life. April detests being a housewife. She dreads the thought of each new day: cleaning, cooking, and caring for children. To her motherhood and marriage are thankless jobs, and suburbia is her private hell.
April tells Frank about a plan she has for them to move to Paris and start a new life. When Frank buys in to the idea, they put the house on the market, tell the children and their neighbors--who are shocked. But, just about as quickly as the plans were made, they begin to fall apart--to say any more would be a major spoiler.
I initially started listening to the audio version of this one, but the reader's voice was extremely depressing (though appropriate for the plot). I then switched to the print version, and I thought Yates did an amazing job letting the reader into the Wheeler's world. A place that I can only describe as what happens to you sometimes when you drive by a horrific traffic accident -- you don't want to look, but once it's there in front of you, you just can't turn your back. Frank and April were not likable characters; they were extremely self-absorbed. Even though I did not like the major characters, I did think the book was terrific. (I have not seen the movie, and do not plan to either. Once around the block with this gut-wrenching story was more than enough for me, but I do recommend it--if that makes sense).
RATING - 4.5/5 stars; Completed - 8/28/09; My Stacks

19 comments:

  1. I'm reading this in a few days, and that's what I always hear, gut-wrenching. I'm glad, despite the sombreness, I've never heard anyone say it isn't good.

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  2. It sounds as if this is a rather intense book. I will research the author a bit. Thanks for your review.

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  3. I picked this up at the beginning of the year and I still haven't got around to it. It sounds really good.

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  4. I read this one earlier in the year and loved it too. I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the movie as yet though - like you I just couldn't put myself through that trauma twice!

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  5. I remember when this movie was at the theater, I thought it looked a little depressing. It sounds like reading the book is the way to go.

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  6. I would have to be in just right the mood before reading this one.

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  7. Reviews for this one seem to really go two ways, love or disappointed. I want to read it eventually, so I'm glad you liked it!

    Lezlie

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  8. This ones in my pile and based on your review, I just know it will be amazing... but am I ready for a heartbreaking read? I just don't know (which is why I keep putting it off!)!

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  9. I bought this book after the movie came out and just haven't gotten to it. I loved your thoughts on this and now can't wait to get to this one!! I should make a list of books that I want to read during my Christmas break because then I would for sure get this read!!

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  10. It was an intense book and it really made me think. I agree it's a read once kind of book.
    I did see the movie a few months after I read the book. While I enjoyed the movie, I think it was enhanced since I read the book. There's a lot of internal dialogue they can't capture in a movie.

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  11. Diane-
    Nice review - I am tempted to read it now. I've seen it everywhere but did not know its premise and tone. Thanks.

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  12. I thought this was a great book, too! The comparison to a horrible car accident that you just can't look away from is excellent. Although it's been several months, I'm still thinking about this one.

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  13. I find Yates so unrelentingly depressing that I have to be in the right frame of mind to even consider picking up his books.

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  14. I liked this book a lot more than I was expecting to. Depressing but rather gripping, I thought - and there's a passage at the end that I just love, where April's sort of reflecting back over her life with Frank, and realizing where things went wrong. Lovely.

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  15. My parents saw the movie and were underwhelmed. I do plan to read the book and I'll probably get around to watching the movie someday (mostly because I'm a huge Kate and Leo fan). But the book does sound interesting even if the characters were annoying at times.

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  16. I've got this one on request with my local library, as well as the film. I'm looking forward to both. I'm a bit suspicious of married life, so this story sounds like it will be right up my alley.

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  17. I thought this book was brilliant, and though I can't really say I enjoyed it, I did really appreciate the quality of the writing. Great review!

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  18. I've been wanting to read this one, and the movie is on my request list at the library, too (though it sounds like my husband won't like the movie - he hates depressing movies!)

    Thanks for the review -

    Sue

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  19. We read this for our book group last year - amazing, ironic, wry ... fantastic writing!

    I haven't yet seen the movie; like you, "once around the block" might be enough for me.

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