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The Amateur Marriage: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 31, 2006
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“An ode to the complexities of familial love, the centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep families together and send their members flying apart, the supremely ordinary pleasures and frustrations of middle-class American life.”
--Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
"Tyler ranges over 60 years of American experience… from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the anniversary of that day in 2001…as she tracks one couple’s domestic disturbances…[Her] writing is beautifully accurate, more often than not with a glinting vein of humor.”
–William H. Pritchard, New York Times Book Review, front cover
“She evokes the entire sweep of [a marriage] with uncommon delicacy & dignity… gives us the feeling of being inside Michael and Pauline Anton’s marriage.”
–John Freeman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“She traces the stormy union of two people who love but can’t stand each other.”
“This ‘wickedly good’ author has come to represent the best of today’s American literature… She is an exquisite chronicler of the everyday
…Her characters are at once infuriating and endearing, conservative yet quietly eccentric.”
–Lisa Allardice, The Observer, London
“Her command of what will move a story forward & engross a reader is faultless.”
–Martha Southgate, Baltimore Sun
“She expertly explores the perils of marriage… Wise & observant…She has the uncanny ability to expose the most confusing contradictions of love.” –Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
“In the fervor of WWII, Michael and Pauline rush head-long into marriage, then live in a constant state of turmoil …We watch safely from a distance like a busybody neighbor hiding behind the curtains, judgmental yet fascinated.”
–Kim Askew, Elle magazine
About the Author
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. This is Anne Tyler’s sixteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Once the story was over, I felt I knew the characters personally, and found it difficult to say goodbye to them.
Deeply empathetic with the characters, I read on, hoping Pauline and Michael could overcome their seemingly impossible differences. And at the heart of the story, there is the ongoing suspense concerning one of the children, the outcome of which surprised me, but shouldn’t have … it was such a likely outcome.
I felt this was one of Anne Tyler’s best. If you're already a fan, you'll love it. If you're only just discovering this author, it’s a great starting point.
Leonard Birdsong is the author of six volumes of his "Weird Criminal Law Stories" and three volumes of his "Professor Birdsong's Dumbest Criminal Stories."
"The Amateur Marriage" is a truly insightful look at a marriage in perpetual conflict, where neither person really understands how to overcome their personality tendencies so that they can live in peace, hence an amateur marriage. Of course, the impact of the discord extends to the rest of the family, especially in the case of the oldest daughter Lindy. The author's account is not judgmental; however, it is clear that the volatility of Pauline has a more pronounced discordant impact than does Michael's somewhat plodding nature.
The novel covers sixty years with the story picking up every so many years. Is there an intriguing plot? Not really. It is a journey of two people struggling with their incompatibilities and the effects on their extended family. The book is actually a larger study in the disconnects among people. It is not just Pauline and Michael that the author turns her attention to. There are any number of miscommunications explored. The author has a real talent for capturing deficient interactions. Personally, I did not find the book to be "simplistic" as a reviewer claims. To the contrary, there is a lot of wisdom in this book.
In his later years, Michael does have the chance to be involved in a more harmonious relationship. The reader is left to ponder whether the new relationship fully erases the memories and pull of the past, despite the difficulties.