Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Easter Parade; Richard Yates

  
Author: Richard Yates
Publication Year: 2001 (original (1976)
Publisher: Picador
Edition: trade softcover
Source: My Stacks
Date Completed: 4/24/2011 
Setting: New York
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend:Yes

Richard Yates was first introduced to me when I read Revolutionary Road a few years back. I loved both the book and the movie. Ever since that book,  I knew that I would want to read more of his books. So when I read the first paragraph of Easter Parade,  I was immediately drawn into the lives of the Grimes sisters.

"Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents divorce. That happened in 1930, when Sarah was nine years old and Emily was five. Their mother, who encouraged both girls to call her "Pookie," took them out of New York to a rented house in Tenafly, New Jersey, where she thought the schools would be better and where she hoped to launch a career in suburban real estate.  It didn't work out--very few of her plans for independence ever did--and they left Tenafly after two years, but it was a memorable time for the girls." 

This book too deals with the disenchantment of everyday life, and the longing for something more....the illusive butterfly, that if found, would make our life just perfect. The people in this novel drink too much, make bad choices in relationships and live their lives afraid to share how they really feel.
Although this story centers around the Grimes sisters, the reader gets a feel early on for the discontent in the lives of their parents, which results in divorce in 1930. Their mother Pookie is a dreamer; she's demanding, always interested in image, and detached from the needs of her children. The father too is distant and detached. He drinks too much, is dissatisfied with his job as copy desk man for the Sun newspaper, and his life is that of a lonely man.  But the story is really about the Grimes sisters. They were born (4) years apart, and their story covers a span of about (40) years.

Sarah, is the oldest and was always seen as the pretty one. She grows up confident, marries young as soon as she gets out of school. She moves to the suburbs, to an estate owned by her husband's family, and has (3) sons, one after another. Her marriage is far from perfect.

"She served lunch that was almost as inadequate as one of Pookie's meals; the the problem was that the conversation just kept petering out. Sarah wanted to hear everything about Barnard, but when Emily began to talk she saw her sister's eyes glaze over in smiling boredom. Pookie said, 'Isn't this nice? Just the three of us together again? But it wasn't really very nice at all, and for most of the afternoon they sat around the sparsely furnished living room in attitudes of forced conviviality, Pookie smoking many cigarettes and dropping ashes on the rug, three women with nothing much to say to one another."
 
Emily was the shy one. She was smart, and goes off to Barnard College on a full scholarship. Shes becomes a career woman, and although she does marry, the marriage is brief, and her relationships with men become not much more than a string of unsatisfying relationships with weak and insecure men.

"The tears, as always before in her life were wholly for herself--for poor, sensitive Emily Grimes whom nobody understood, and who understood nothing."

The thing that made this novel so sad, yet so very moving at the same time, was the fact that each sister was miserable with how their life turned out yet, they envied the life that the other one had.  Although I never had a sister, I felt deeply for the Grimes sisters, and rooted for each of them at different times.

If you love fine literature and an author who can pull you into the lives of his characters, then I know you will enjoy The Easter Parade. If I had to change one thing about this novel, I would have liked to have had it told in alternating POVs instead of just Emily.  Despite this, I would highly recommend this book.

24 comments:

  1. I just added this to my TBR list. Great review, Diane!

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  2. Thanks for the review! I LOVED Revolutionary Road, this is a good reminder to stick this on my "to do" list!

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  3. Thanks Diane, it sounds like a really great book.

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  4. Thanks for a beautiful review.

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  5. I am glad that you enjoyed this one. I am a huge fan of the author. I would recommend Revolutionary Road, if you haven't read that already.

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  6. After reading your full review of this book, I have decided that I need more Yates in my life. I am going to be reading this one. I think that he does suburban discontent very well, and I often find myself caught up in the lives of his characters. Thanks for the excellent review and for sharing all those wonderful and evocative quotes with us!

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  7. I'm also a fan of Revolutionay Road. Where does the title "Easter Parade" come from?

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  8. Going on my wish list. Speaking of wishing, though, every time I see your header I want to get myself to the ocean in a big hurry. I'm so envious it's awful.

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  9. I like books that deal with simple subjects. The disnenchantment of everyday life is not necessarily an exciting subject, but I find that topic to be the most interesting because you can relate to it on all levels.

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  10. My list just keeps getting longer! One of these days I shall have to start reading. Have a wonderful weekend!!!

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  11. You've convinced me to give this novel a try -- wonderful review Diane!

    PS Thanks for the book win!

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  12. I've been wanting to read Revolutionary Road...and now this sounds good too.

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  13. I'm expecting this in the mail any day now, I can't wait to read this.

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  14. This one sounds fabulous! I loved the Revolutionary Road movie, but never got to read the book yet. Will check this one out.

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  15. This book has the same perfect details and moments as Revolutionary Road. Yates has a knack for description and those moments that let you know exactly how the characters are feeling without coming right out and saying so.
    Unfortunately, Yates tends towards the bleak and despairing but writes it so well.
    I have to remember to read more of his work. Thank you, Diane!

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  16. Diane, I will add this to my TBR list as well. Terrific review!

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  17. This sounds pretty good. I have Revolutionary Road so I'll start there with this author. Hopefully I enjoy it and then move on to Easter Parade.

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  18. Alexandra...I am not sure where The title comes from, but I read somewhere that it refers to a photo taken of one of the sisters (Sarah) and her fiance/husband. The cover has what appears to be a parade on the front.

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  19. I hope to read my first Richard Yates soon-I enjoyed your post a lot

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  20. I loved this one, as well as Revolutionary Road. I'm looking forward to reading more books written by this author.

    Great review, Diane.

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  21. I also really enjoyed Revolutionary Road so I might have to read this one.

    I did enjoy the book much more than the movie, which tends to be typical for me.

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  22. This is my favorite book of the year, so far. Reading Yates biography (A Tragic Honesty), I have learned how autobiographical the novel is. Basically Yates IS Emily and told the story from his own perspective.

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  23. I really enjoyed (I don't know if that's the right word) Revolutionary Road and have been looking for another Yates to try. I think this one would be perfect, thanks!

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