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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Anne Tyler Novel
I have read eight novels by Anne Tyler, and this is my favorite so far. How refreshing to have a writer who only improves on her own perfection.
She has taken the edgy, imperfect, exasperating moments of marriage and woven a tapestry of life and its changes in the course of a fifty-year relationship. Michael and Pauline first meet in the fervor of patriotism that...
Published on January 31, 2004 by Antoinette Klein

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Am I missing something?
I am so disappointed in this book. I am a faithful Anne Tyler fan. I've read all her books and loved them. I was so looking forward to The Amateur Marriage. I bought the hardcover as soon as it was available. I'm halfway thru and can't find the motivation to finish it. I don't care about the characters; the story is plodding and uninteresting; and the writing is...
Published on January 28, 2004 by Cherylanne Sharp


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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Anne Tyler Novel, January 31, 2004
By 
Antoinette Klein (Hoover, Alabama USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have read eight novels by Anne Tyler, and this is my favorite so far. How refreshing to have a writer who only improves on her own perfection.
She has taken the edgy, imperfect, exasperating moments of marriage and woven a tapestry of life and its changes in the course of a fifty-year relationship. Michael and Pauline first meet in the fervor of patriotism that swept their neighborhoods in the days immediately after Pearl Harbor. They loved, they fought, they made each other miserable, and they married. They continued to fight and make each other miserable and the love was not so easy to see. They had three children and were conflicted by their raising of them. The whole family seems to change when the oldest daughter runs away from home. The pain of that act leaves its indelible mark on all of them and things are never as good as before, though they weren't all that good before.
Anne Tyler has taken an ordinary couple and placed them in a commonplace situation like she always does. Yet she manages to make each page riveting, a can't-put-down read that involves the reader so deeply in the lives of Pauline, Michael and their family that one is reluctant to say goodbye. Surely, this outwardly ideal looking family can be "fixed." Surely the fighting will stop, Lindy will return home, and they will all live happily ever after. Surely. But, alas.....
There are ordinary moments and there are extraordinary moments in this novel, but all become riveting in the hands of the masterful Anne Tyler. Will Pauline ever achieve her ideal of marriage as an interweaving of two souls? Will Michael be happy if he can attain his view of marriage, which is two people traveling side by side but separately? Can two people who don't like each other very much overcome that when the love just won't die? Can two good Catholics raise a grandchild named Pagan?
From its compelling opening to its tearful ending, this is Anne Tyler writing as good or better than she has ever written. If you're already a fan, you'll adore it. If you're new to this author, it's the perfect starting point.
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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Tyler Is No Amateur Writer, January 29, 2004
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This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
Pauline and Michael met in 1941 as World War II was upon them, were infatuated with each other, hardly got acquainted before Michael goes off to fight for his country. They marry quickly, live with his mother whom he works for in the family grocery store, have two children quickly, then a third and live lives of quiet desperation. Sound familiar? Tyler maintains that this couple is mismatched and that they were amateurs about marriage. I would argue that there is a little bit of them in almost every married couple I know, that we are all "amateurs" when it comes to choosing a mate. Pauline and Michael could fit atop almost every wedding cake I've seen.
Here are more examples of Pauline and Michael as every couple. They often quarrel but are not sure why they are angry with each other. Pauline often describes their children as "my" children rather than "our" children. (I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard one spouse make that statement.) Because of what their oldest child Lindy does-- she runs away from home-- "it meant that Michael never again had a moment of pure joy." About Pauline, Michael says that "she was a good person, really. Well, and so was Michael himself, he believed. It was only that the two of them weren't nice. They weren't always very nice to each other; he couldn't explain just why." George, Pauline and Michael's son, feels that he married his mother. (How often have we heard that statement?) Michael has no hobbies. Pauline has had the same women friends for years, but has "lost the ability to pass judgment on these women. She didn't even know if she liked them, in fact, and perhaps she didn't like them, but by now it hardly mattered because how would she ever start over with somebody new, at this point?" At one point late in the novel when the children are telling stories about their mother, Michael doesn't recognize the woman they are describing.
Although Ms. Tyler writes about the everyday dullness of a marriage, this novel is never, never dull. You know dozens of things about these wonderfully developed characters and ultimately care desperately about them. I found a sorrow sometimes just under the surface and other times palpable that I do not recall from reading other Tyler novels. Perhaps it's because the author is older now or we have lived through September 11, 2001-- the novel ends after 9/11/01-- or because we experience Pauline and Michael's lives over such a long period of time. At any rate, even those these two characters often didn't like each other very much, they never stopped loving each other on some level. I could rename them after a dozen couples I know.
This most perceptive novel is as good as any Anne Tyler has written.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, January 24, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
I found this book so interesting and enjoyable to read. Anne Tyler is an amazing writer. It's true that sad things happen to the characters, but to me they are so real and true to themselves that everything makes sense, including the end. Unlike Hollywood movies, there are no sudden changes of heart and epiphanies that solve all the problems in an instant so that everybody can live happily ever after. Sad things do happen to people, and real people struggle with how to solve their problems. If reading this book makes some people examine their own lives a little more closely, and maybe even helps them avoid some of the same mistakes, that's great. But no lives are mistake-free, and honestly, they'd be less rich if they were. We don't get a chance to go back and do things over, and neither do Michael and Pauline. Their kids have to figure out what to make of their own lives, and yes, their parents didn't make it easy for them, but who has perfect parents? Michael & Pauline's grandson seems to survive the unkindest treatment of all and come out reasonably healthy. Even Michael and Pauline aren't bitter by the end. Maybe it's my own rose-colored glasses, but this sends a message of hope to me.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Amateur Review, December 12, 2004
By 
Daniel Myers (Greenville, SC USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
Righto-I've read all 130 previous reviews, and not ONE of them, pro or con, mentioned the fact that the word amateur comes from the Latin word "amare": to love. An amateur at anything used to be someone who did something because of love, whether he or she was particularly good at it or not.---I am curious as to whether some of the negative reviewers are "professionally" married and what exactly that would mean.

Life and love are sad, tragic, comical and messy. All these qualities are captured in the experience of Michael and Pauline as well as their friends, relatives and progeny. This book amply illustrates the observation of Proust, that, "We make the irrevocable decisions of our lives in states of mind destined to be transitory."

A sad, lovely, compelling read. Four stars because even I would have liked the characters to have been threshed out a bit more. As it is, they somewhat resemble minimalist skeletons. But perhaps that's Ms. Tyler's intention, to convey a reflection of how our lives seem to slip away from us so quickly.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne Tyler's best . . . and that's saying something., January 9, 2004
By 
DonO (Bethany Beach, DE) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
The real genius of Anne Tyler is how she can write so gently, and still make you care intensely about the characters in her books. I thought her previous book "Back When We Were Grownups' was her best, but "The Amateur Marriage" is even better.
The writing is nostalgic, sensitive, funny, enlightening and sad - sometimes even heartbreaking.
Stick with this book, but don't get too complacent - out of nowhere - BAM! Anne Tyler knocks you out of your chair.
I read this book in one sitting, and feel like I should have slowed down and savored it more, which I will do when I re-read it (a rarity for me).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a disappointment., January 10, 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Among the shelves) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
Anne Tyler is by far my favorite author of all time. I have been waiting for this book to come out for years and years; now that I finally own it and have read it twice over, I have differing opinions. The Amateur Marriage is indeed a "safe and comfy" novel. The first half or so of the book is engaging and very definitely stamped with Anne Tyler's profound perception and all of the other wonderful things her readers and, as in my case, fanatics have come to love and expect from every book of hers. However, I found myself getting slightly bored as the book went on, and it most certainly didn't keep my interest as almost all of Tyler's fifteen other novels can every time. Don't get me wrong -- her incredible gifts in the character development and storytelling areas are evident as always. I wasn't disappointed with the book, and her talents are still going strong.... Perhaps I would have enjoyed it significantly more if I had never read another Tyler novel before. However, that is not the case -- I own every single one, and have read some of them more than five times over.
In short, don't head into this one with expectations of the greatness of Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Searching for Caleb or The Accidental Tourist. But it's very much worth getting if you're a Tyler fan.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable book about marriage & family!, January 30, 2004
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
Don't read any reviews that give away the plot of this book and also ignore the bad reviews, especially if you're over 40 and married. Anne Tyler was born in 1941 so she understands how life choices can be constantly evaluated as people age. The book flows from chapter to chapter and I was completely caught up in the lives of the family. I knew nothing about the plot ahead of time except that the married couple at times both have regrets about marrying the other. There is nothing plodding about this book - it was a page turner for me, but then I'm close to Tyler's age and my family experiences made me know how real this book is.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Am I missing something?, January 28, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am so disappointed in this book. I am a faithful Anne Tyler fan. I've read all her books and loved them. I was so looking forward to The Amateur Marriage. I bought the hardcover as soon as it was available. I'm halfway thru and can't find the motivation to finish it. I don't care about the characters; the story is plodding and uninteresting; and the writing is sophomoric. I find it hard to believe that Anne Tyler actually wrote it. It just doesn't measure up to her previous work.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Sad, Very Powerful, March 5, 2004
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
Anne Tyler always has a way of taking the most mundane, ordinary lives and making them important and real...much like real people view their own lives and families.
Here is the story of the most ordinary and cliche'd of marriages, that of Michael and Pauline Anton. They meet and marry in the prewar haste of 1941--when Pearl Harbor galvanized ordinary young men into rushing off to enlist, and ordinary young women into marrying them in haste.
Cocooned in his Polish Baltimore neighborhood, the only surviving son of a grocery-store proprietor (his mother), Michael Anton is completely naive to the ways of the world--until he meets vivacious, pretty young Pauline, so daring that she wears a bright red coat! She comes from the next neighborhood, and that makes her exotic to Michael, who courts and marries her before ever stopping to see who she is.
What follows is an almost 60-year saga of this terribly mismatched couple--their children, their neighbors, their lives. What makes it interesting? The fact that Michael and Pauline and everyone in their circle could be us--the fact that while while we may think our own lives and doings are unique and important, they are only so to us.
We see Michael and Pauline through the eyes of each of their children, through the changing decades of postwar America, through tragedy and pain and death--and the end? As simple as the beginning. And that is Tyler's gift. Showing us that in the end, we are all alike, no matter how we choose to dress it up, no matter what our choices. In the end, we are simple human beings who live the best we can in a life that may or may not bring us happiness.
This is one of Tyler's best books, as good as she has ever been, and I highly recommend it.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Poignant Tale of Marriage and Family, January 30, 2004
By 
"steviel" (Pasadena, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Amateur Marriage: A Novel (Hardcover)
Like many of the other reviewers, I am a stalwart Ann Tyler fan and, while The Amateur Marriage is not one of her best novels, it is a worthwhile read. Tyler has a unique writing style -- calm and intuitive -- which works well in this tale about the marriage of two disparate individuals and the repurcussions when that relationship gradually collapses. Although some of Tyler's observations -- the rise of 1950's suburbia, the flowering of 1960's Haight-Ashbury counter-culture, and the fall-out wrought by mega-supermarkets -- seem contrived, the complex family relationships are beautifully wrought and compelling. After reading this novel, you cannot help but feel that we are each amateurs in the relationships that populate our lives.
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The Amateur Marriage: A Novel
The Amateur Marriage: A Novel by Anne Tyler (Hardcover - January 6, 2004)
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