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