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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Ann Patchett
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This is the story of how best-selling novelist Patchett (State of Wonder, 2011) became a writer. As a young child in California and, after her parents’ divorce, Nashville, she knew she had to write, and she was fortunate, as she so warmly and vividly explains, in her writing teachers—Allan Gurganus, Grace Paley, and Russell Banks—and in her success supporting herself by writing nonfiction for magazines and newspapers, beginning with Seventeen and extending to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vogue, and Gourmet. Patchett now assembles a retrospective set of 22 sterling personal essays to form an episodic, piquant, instructive, and entertaining self-portrait. She reflects on her family, life on a Tennessee farm, literary discipline and inspiration, and her failed first marriage. Her second marriage is central to her hilarious account of an RV road trip, and the full measure of Patchett’s toughness and daring surfaces in “The Wall,” a riveting account of her father, a captain when he retired after 30 years on the Los Angeles police force, coaching her as she takes the grueling admission test for the Los Angeles Police Academy. A self-described “workhorse” who has even opened an independent bookstore, Patchett is a commanding and incisive storyteller, whether her tales are true or imagined. --Donna Seaman

Review

“I had been so engaged by Ann Patchett’s multifaceted story, so lured in by her confiding voice, that I forgot I was on the job. […] As the best personal essays often do, Patchett’s is a two-way mirror, reflecting both the author and her readers.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Patchett’s mastery of nonfiction [is] every bit the equal of her skill as a novelist.” (Shelf Awareness)

“All the essays were a joy to read...No matter your interest, you’ll find words in this book that speak to you.” (Real Simple)

“Each of the essays is its own delight and resonates with warmth and humor… If read straight through, the book presents a lovely and lyrical look at a life well lived.” (Library Journal)

“Readable and candid, Patchett’s collection is a joyful celebration of life, love and the written word.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Reading Patchett is like spending time with a deeply perceptive longtime pal, or a new friend that one instantly connects with.” (USA Today)

“[A] sparkling collection.” (The New Yorker)

“Happy marriage, compelling writing and all worthy endeavor requires hard work. That’s Patchett’s strength. And she does a fine job.” (Miami Herald)

“Patchett … is one of our best contemporary novelists. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage reminds us that she is an exceptional writer of nonfiction, too. Her prose is a pleasure to read, regardless of genre.” (Dallas Morning News)

“Novelist Ann Patchett’s excellent essay collection ranges from dogs to writing to white-knuckled air travel.” (Christian Science Monitor)

“While being an artistic crafter of words, Patchett also has a storyteller’s ability to sketch a moment so vividly you can’t fail to see how her own writing life was developed.” (Aspen Daily News)

“In this heartfelt collection of autobiographical essays, the novelist opens up about love, friendship, and family, exhibiting the compassionate voice that is a hallmark of her fiction.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)

“It is a feat that Ann Patchett remains so lovable as a narrator, and so engaging as a storyteller, when writing about her excellent career, personal life, dog, and husband.” (Newsday)

“Patchett’s is a no-nonsense voice: clear, sane, companionable… [T]he funny, frank and nervy ‘The Getaway Car’ (possibly worth the book’s price) plunges readers, roller-coaster style, into the story of Patchett’s writing life—essentially, this collection’s real subject.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“[I]n this terrific, wide-ranging collection, Patchett demonstrates how a pro does it.” (NPR's Fresh Air)

“All of the essays, which have been collected from her magazine work over two decades, are excellent. Patchett writes enviable prose—fluid, simple, direct, clear, and fearless…” (Esquire.com)

“Ann Patchett most definitely has something to say, in her fully realized and beautiful voice.” (Huffington Post)

“[A]ll of the periodical pieces collected are finely polished, worthy of their packaging between two hard covers.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“Writing of loss and of the complications of love, Patchett lets down her guard … and opens both her sense of humor and her heart.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“Wit-filled and elegantly executed” (Entertainment Weekly)

“The best advertisement for Ann Patchett’s new collection of nonfiction is anything else Ms. Patchett has written...Ms. Patchett’s style is not overly confessional, but it is beguiling in ways that make her sound like someone you’d want to know.” (New York Times)

From the Back Cover

 A Globe & Mail 100 Selection

The New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto creates a resonant portrait of a life in this collection of writings on love, friendship, work, and art.

"The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living."

So begins This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, an examination of the things Ann Patchett is fully committed to—the art and craft of writing, the depths of friendship, an elderly dog, and one spectacular nun. Writing nonfiction, which started off as a means of keeping her insufficiently lucrative fiction afloat, evolved over time to be its own kind of art, the art of telling the truth as opposed to the art of making things up. Bringing her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, Patchett uses insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.

These essays twine to create both a portrait of life and a philosophy of life. Obstacles that at first appear insurmountable—scaling a six-foot wall in order to join the Los Angeles Police Department, opening an independent bookstore, and sitting down to write a novel—are eventually mastered with quiet tenacity and a sheer force of will. The actual happy marriage, which was the one thing she felt she wasn't capable of, ultimately proves to be a metaphor as well as a fact: Patchett has devoted her life to the people and ideals she loves the most.

An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.

About the Author

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and three works of nonfiction. She is the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, England's Orange Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year, and was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She is the co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her husband, Karl, and their dog, Sparky.

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