Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Amateur Marriage: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 31, 2006
|New from||Used from|
100 (Fiction) Books to Read in a Lifetime
AbeBooks.com, an Amazon Company, recommends a unique list of must-read books. Learn More on AbeBooks.com.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage is not so much a novel as a really long argument. Michael is a good boy from a Polish neighborhood in Baltimore; Pauline is a harum-scarum, bright-cheeked girl who blows into Michael's family's grocery store at the outset of World War II. She appears with a bloodied brow, supported by a gaggle of girlfriends. Michael patches her up, and neither of them are ever the same. Well, not the same as they were before, but pretty much the same as everyone else. After the war, they live over the shop with Michael's mother till they've saved enough to move to the suburbs. There they remain with their three children, until the onset of the sixties, when their eldest daughter runs away to San Francisco. Their marriage survives for a while, finally crumbling in the seventies. If this all sounds a tad generic, Tyler's case isn't helped by the characteristics she's given the two spouses. Him: repressed, censorious, quiet. Her: voluble, emotional, romantic. Mars, meet Venus. What marks this couple, though, and what makes them come alive, is their bitter, unproductive, tooth-and-nail fighting. Tyler is exploring the way that ordinary-seeming, prosperous people can survive in emotional poverty for years on end. She gets just right the tricks Michael and Pauline play on themselves in order to stay together: "How many times," Pauline asks herself, "when she was weary of dealing with Michael, had she forced herself to recall the way he'd looked that first day? The slant of his fine cheekbones, the firming of his lips as he pressed the adhesive tape in place on her forehead." Only in antogonism do Michael and Pauline find a way to express themselves. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Because Tyler writes with scrupulous accuracy about muddled, unglamorous suburbanites, it is easy to underestimate her as a sort of Pyrex realist. Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class's Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn't share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed. Her latest novel delineates, in careful strokes, the 30-year marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, and its dissolution. In December 1941 in St. Cassians, a mainly Eastern European conclave in Baltimore, 20-year-old Michael meets Pauline and is immediately smitten. They marry after Michael is discharged from the army, but their temperaments don't mix. For Michael, self-control is the greatest of virtues; for Pauline, expression is what makes us human. She is compulsively friendly, a bad hider of emotions, selfish in her generosity ("my homeless man") and generous in her selfishness. At Pauline's urging, the two move to the suburbs, where they raise three children, George, Karen and Lindy. Lindy runs away in 1960 and never comes back-although in 1968, Pauline and Michael retrieve Pagan, Lindy's three-year-old, from her San Francisco landlady while Lindy detoxes in a rehab community that her parents aren't allowed to enter. Michael and Pauline got married at a time when the common wisdom, expressed by Pauline's mother, was that "marriages were like fruit trees.... Those trees with different kinds of branches grafted onto the trunks. After a time, they meld, they grow together, and... if you tried to separate them you would cause a fatal wound." They live into an era in which the accumulated incompatibilities of marriage end, logically, in divorce. For Michael, who leaves Pauline on their 30th anniversary, divorce is redemption. For Pauline, the divorce is, at first, a tragedy; gradually, separation becomes a habit. A lesser novelist would take moral sides, using this story to make a didactic point. Tyler is much more concerned with the fine art of human survival in changing circumstances. The range and power of this novel should not only please Tyler's immense readership but also awaken us to the collective excellency of her career.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
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.
"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.