- File Size: 3658 KB
- Print Length: 321 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; Oprah's Book Club edition (February 6, 2018)
- Publication Date: February 6, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01NCUXEFR
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,813 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$15.95|
|Print List Price:||$16.95|
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An American Marriage (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel (Oprah's Book Club 2018 Selection) Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
More Praise for An American Marriage
|SILVER SPARROW by Tayari Jones||THE LEAVERS by Lisa Ko||PURPLE HIBISCUS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie|
|More Essential Reading from Algonquin||Bestselling Author Of An American Marriage “Impossible to put down.” —Los Angeles Times||National Book Award Finalist “Courageous, sensitive, and perfectly of this moment.” —Barbara Kingsolver||Bestselling Author Of Americanah “Prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes.” —The Boston Globe|
“Compelling . . . spun with tender patience by Jones, who cradles each of these characters in a story that pulls our sympathies in different directions. She never ignores their flaws, their perfectly human tendency toward self-justification, but she also captures their longing to be kind, to be just, to somehow behave well despite the contradictory desires of the heart.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“Tayari Jones has emerged as one of the most important voices of her generation.”—Essence
“In this unforgettable novel, Tayari Jones tackles hard questions about pride, betrayal, and our capacity to forgive.”—Real Simple
"Novelist Jones writes brilliantly about expectations and loss and racial injustice, and how love must evolve when our best laid plans go awry."—Esquire.com
"Tayari Jones provides an essential contemporary portrait of a marriage in this searing novel. An American Marriage gorgeously evokes the New South as it explores mass incarceration on a personal level."—Entertainment Weekly
“I love An American Marriage and I’m so excited for this book to be in the world. Tayari’s novel is timely, thoughtful, and beautifully written. Reading it, I found myself angry as hell, laughing out loud, choking up and cheering. A gem of a book.”—Jacqueline Woodson, author of Another Brooklyn and Brown Girl Dreaming
“Tayari Jones is blessed with vision to see through to the surprising and devastating truths at the heart of ordinary lives, strength to wrest those truths free, and a gift of language to lay it all out, compelling and clear. That has been true from her very first book, but with An American Marriage that vision, that strength, and that truth-telling voice have found a new level of artistry and power.”—Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
“Tayari Jones is a great storyteller. An American Marriage holds the reader from first page to last, with her compassionate observation, her clear-eyed insight and her beautifully written and complex characters. Jones understands love and loss and writes with passion and precision about the forces that move us all from one to another.”—Amy Bloom, author of Lucky Us
“An American Marriage asks hard questions about injustice and betrayal, and answers them with a heartbreaking and genuinely suspenseful love story in which nobody's wrong and everybody's wounded. Tayari Jones has written a complex and important novel about people trapped in a tragic situation, struggling to reconcile their responsibilities and desires.”—Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher
“Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage is a stunning epic love story filled with breathtaking twists and turns, while bursting with realized and unrealized dreams. Skillfully crafted and beautifully written, An American Marriage is an exquisite, timely, and powerful novel that feels both urgent and indispensable.”—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory
“This novel is peopled by vividly realized, individual characters and driven by interpersonal drama, but it is also very much about being black in contemporary America. This is, at its heart, a love story, but a love story warped by racial injustice. And, in it, Jones suggests that racial injustice haunts the African-American story. Subtle, well-crafted, and powerful.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Layered like Pearl Cleage’s What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, this title will appeal to all readers of contemporary fiction.”—Library Journal (starred review)
"An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward—with hope and pain—into the future."—TheRumpus
“ . . . nuanced and evocative . . . An American Marriage is a compelling exploration of the thorny conflicts that drive us apart and bind us, the distorting weight of racism, and how commitment looks across time – and generations.”—BBC.com
" . . . breathtaking . . . Jones is a master with words and An American Marriage is the wordsmith at the top of her game."—Bitch Media
" . . . heart-wrenching . . . An American Marriage poses profound questions about what we owe each other, and what injustices we allow to persist."—Huffington Post
"One of America's finest writers, Tayari Jones has offered up another masterpiece with her latest novel, a tremendously powerful story about love, injustice, inequality, and strength. An American Marriage reveals how quickly dreams can be derailed due to systemic malignant forces all around us. It's a novel of vision and grace, and it will bury itself in your consciousness."—Nylon.com
“Tayari Jones is a wonderful storyteller. Anyone who has read Jones’s earlier works (Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow) is familiar with her strong authorial voice and her careful construction of each sentence, paragraph, and chapter. Her attention to craft is paramount. An American Marriage is an engrossing novel about many things, but at its heart, it’s a love story, a uniquely American love story.”—Ploughshares
"It’s always an event when there’s new writing from Tayari Jones . . . "—ElectricLiterature.com
“Jones crafts an affecting tale that explores marriage, family, regret, and other feelings made all the more resonant by her well-drawn characters and their intricate conflicts of heart and mind.”—Booklist
“Jones (Silver Sparrow) lays bare the devastating effects of wrongful imprisonment in this piercing tale of an unspooling marriage . . . Masterfully executed . . . Jones uses her love triangle to explore simmering class tensions and reverberating racial injustice in the contemporary South, while also delivering a satisfying romantic drama.”—Publishers Weekly
“Tayari Jones displays tremendous writing prowess with An American Marriage, an enchanting novel that succeeds at every level. From the very start, An American Marriage pulls the reader in with gorgeous prose. Even beyond its plot, the story soars. It doesn’t just focus on one instance of a marriage; it explores philosophical and political quandaries, including generational expectations of men and women, the place of marriage in modern society, systemic racism, toxic masculinity, and more. It does so in a gentle, subtle way, avoiding didacticism as it nudges the reader to question their own conventions and ideals. There are rarely novels as timely or fitting as An American Marriage. It brings abstract ideas about race and love down to the material level. The story is gripping, and the characters are unforgettable.”—Foreword Reviews (starred review)
“Tayari Jones weaves a moving love story in her new novel, An American Marriage.”–Southern Living
“[A] very insightful, touching story about contemporary relationships.”–Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
From the Back Cover
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and the best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving. forward—with hope and pain—into the future.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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This book was seriously so moving. Tayari created real people, people I feel like I know or went to church or school with and it's always a treat when an author writes a story so complex that you're not actually sure whose side you're supposed to be on. I wasn't going to review this book because I felt like it was going to get so many reviews that mine wouldn't matter, but I stumbled upon a one-star review for this book and the reviewer simply said "I can't connect to these characters. It was mostly letters."
I don't know how many of y'all can relate to a black couple in America ripped apart by a flawed justice system, but I personally got teary eyed by the second letter (the first one written by Roy). I'm only 22. I've never been married. I'm not a doll maker. I am NOTHING like these characters. But you know what? I can relate to them. As I read this story, I got incredibly emotional because I thought to myself--this is within the realm of possibility for me in my reality. This could happen to me. That's why this story was so moving to me.
To the reader who inspired me to write this review because they "couldn't relate" and therefore think that's a reason to one-star a beautifully written story like this, if I wanted to read books about myself, I'd just read through my old facebook statuses. Not being able to see yourself in the characters doesn't take away from the moving story being told. Often times publishing companies are wary about releasing books like Ms. Jones' because of readers like this, but for readers like me, stories like this stay with us for weeks long after we've read the last page.
I am two months into 2018 and I feel l'm going to have a very hard time finding a book that has affected me as much as this one has. Also, to the person who likened this book to a Tyler Perry show--side eyeing you and how wrong that statement was.
I could not relate to any of the main characters. I got so tired of Celestial and Andre, both of them got under my skin. Celestial is shallow, selfish, uncompromising, and she thinks the world revolves around her. I pegged her from the start, I knew she didn't love Roy. She will fall for any man who gives her special attention, i.e. Roy and her professor. How long will she stay with Andre? Andre pretended to be a "friend" to Roy but secretly wanted his wife. I felt sorry for Roy because of his situation but he should have seen through Celestial & Andre much sooner.
I only finished this book because of the book club, it left me with negative feelings wondering if most people live this way. Sad to think.
Many in my book club could not complete this book. I won't recommend this book to anyone because I didn't care for the subject matter.
Basically, this is a book in which two people who were never well suited find themselves in a situation in which their ill suited relationship becomes (surprise!) more ill suited with time. And you, dear reader, get to sit through every miserable minute of their relationship crumbling to ruins.
I should have known better than to read a book about a love triangle. I've read enough of them and I know that at least two people in the love triangle are heartless. I hated every single character in this book. They were all awful in their own ways. Roy was a possessive, macho jerk and Celestial seemed cold. Poor, spineless Andre. And the part where Roy comes home never seemed to end. Celestial and him had the same conversation three times. Three. And he asked Andre the same question six separate times and got the same exact answer every time and no resolution was ever reached. Listen, in real life, maybe you talk things out for a while, but I really, really don't want to read about it in excruciating detail. It's rare that I get to the end of a book and whisper, "Finally!"
Top international reviews
For the book to work, the reader has to connect with the central characters. Unfortunately, I didn't. The only character I really liked was Big Roy and the part he played in the story.
It is well-written and I think if you do connect with the characters, you'll love it.
I'm a British reader, and while the book is about universal terms of love, respect and marriage I found it a very American book so there was an extra hurdle for me to jump to find the characters relatable.
I've just finished it and I was determined to write a review whilst it's still fresh in my mind. But I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. Beautiful isn't really an adjective I'd equate to a book, but this was, the writing was beautiful. The characters were so fulsome and so three dimensional you couldn't help but feel for them, be enveloped in them and share in their pain. I could feel myself holding back tears, I couldn't help but feel totally emotive, cursing when it came time to putting the book down, remembering that my husband would otherwise starve to death if I didn't get up and go and cook dinner. But I always looked forward to going back to it. The protagonists had their own part of their story to tell, from their own perspective, and you ached with sympathy, with empathy and with a longing to see everybody turn out happy. Life was dealt a cruel to them and it was up to them to untangle the messy predicament they found themselves in.
If you'd like to go on an emotional journey that leaves you completely wrung out, I would highly recommend An American Marriage. It's worth your money and your time.
A few people have commented here and I have to do the same, but the writing is just not realistic. Of course some people do have a wonderful way with words, but to have three main characters and their parents speak and write in the most beautiful, embroidered sentences will eventually make you roll your eyes a bit. Equally, none of the characters are likeable, but perhaps the author's intention was to make them this way to highlight the way prison can change lives and personalities.
Overall, glad to have read it but wouldn't read again. I thought it was going to be more about the American judicial system and its bias, rather than a solid love story.
While I certainly felt for Roy’s situation it was hard to really engage with he and Celestial as characters. Towards the end I almost threw in the towel with regards to the over-the-top emoting that was happening. Roy became such an entitled man baby. In some ways he and Michael from OP would probably relate well to one another.
I will be discussing this in a few days with our reading group and that may lead to a revision but right now it’s a 2 and likely this is at the bottom of my shortlist.
The unfairness in what happens to Roy is tragic yet this story goes way beyond that and becomes more about survival, love and humanity. This book isn't about prison as such; in fact, him serving his sentence is a relatively small part of it and there is no day-to-day of his life inside. It's about people.
One of many ideas which stays with me after reading this book is how even in this day and age a decent man's life can be swept away on a whim because he is black. Working hard and following all the rules won't be enough and everyone in this book knows it and lives with that fact.
You'll keep thinking about this book and the people in it after you've read the last page. I recommend this book very highly.
Until one day, when visiting Roy's parents in Louisiana, Roy finds himself accused of a crime he did not commit. Roy is a black man in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and despite his innocence and Celestial's assurances that he was with her when the crime was committed, he finds himself sentenced to twelve years.
Such a devastating blow, so early in their marriage, leaves Celestial at a loss and she finds it difficult to hold onto the love she felt for Roy. Instead, she finds comfort in the arms of Andre, their closest friend.
Roy understandably struggles with his loss of freedom and the developing distance between him and Celestial. When his conviction is eventually overturned, after five years of incarceration, he hopes he can return home and resume his life - but how does the land lie with Celestial, who he has not seen for two years?
This is the book that won Tayari Jones the coveted Women's Prize for Fiction 2019. It is a powerful piece of writing and has received praise in many quarters - not least from Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey - as the moving portrayal of a the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.
The story is told in first person, switching between the narratives of Roy, Celestial and Andre, so you get to see into the hearts and minds of three characters bound together by love and friendship, trying to deal with a separation that has been forced upon them by tragic events beyond their control.
It actually took me quite a while to get through this one - alternating between the book and audio book - because this is pretty heavy, emotional stuff. I kept picking it up and putting it down, but found that I was compelled to find out what happens between Celestial, Roy and Andre, so had to reach the end of their story.
There is no doubt in my mind that this book deserves all the praise it has received, but I am not sure I actually found this an enjoyable experience. This is not a book to read if you are looking for some light relief! It evokes a visceral feeling of pain in response to the emotional turmoil of Celestial, Roy and Andre and is a very uncomfortable read in parts.
Is this really the state of marriage between African-American couples in the USA? I have no idea, but I am not sure Celestial and Roy's relationship would have survived, even if their marriage had not been so brutally ripped apart by the injustice visited upon them. Roy's admitted adultery, even before his imprisonment, played heavily upon my mind, and when added to his obvious arrogance, I found that I could not like his character - even though he was treated so unfairly. I was rooting for Celestial to break free all the way through...no spoilers from me though!
I am not sorry to have read this book - especially since it is beautifully written and has had such a high profile - but this is not going to be for everyone, and I would only recommend it with care. It certainly is not my favourite of the books that were shortlisted for the Women's Prize this year, which remains Anna Burns' Milkman (although I admit I have not read them all yet), but it is a worthy piece of literary fiction - maybe that sums up the root of my problem with it...it is just sooo worthy!
There were some big name endorsements of this book, I'm staggered by their unsophisticated taste.
Don't bother with it unless you watch a lot of tv and have a chip on your shoulder
The author acknowledges that she nearly didn't shape the storyline from the points of view of its three protagonists. I am glad she went ahead with it because it made the contents all the more believable.
It is the story of Celestial and Ray. A newly married couple who are put through testing times when Ray is wrongly accused of a crime that he did not commit. It is about how marriage works, how individuals can struggle becoming a unit, and it is about the power of long lasting love.
I found myself having a very strong and negative reaction to the character Celestial. I disagreed with her choices and I found myself getting angry at her, believing her to be: petulant, spoilt and disagreeable. However, what is great about this story is that I believe that people coming from different backgrounds, different ages, and different marital status’ will all have different reactions. In my opinion, that is essentially what makes An American Marriage by Tayari Jones a great book.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is available now.
Roy and Celestial have been married for a year and a half and live in Atlanta. Though it was largely a loving marriage, there have been some frictions between the two of them.
They were visiting Roy’s parents in Eloe, Louisiana, and were staying in a hotel there when Roy was suddenly arrested in the middle of the night: a woman staying at the hotel had been raped, and said that Roy, whom she had met briefly earlier that day, was the rapist. We know that is not true, because Roy had been with Celestial all that evening and night; but the racist jury did not believe Celestial’s story, and sentenced Roy to twelve years in prison in Louisiana. He was 31.
There follows a series of chapters which take the form of letters between Celestial and Roy. The early ones express their love for each other; but we realize that there are growing misunderstandings between them, not least because Roy was becoming – rightly - suspicious about Celestial’s growing reliance on their best friend Andre, who had loved Celestial since they were both children.
Celestial does not visit Roy in prison as often as she did, and, after he has been in prison for three years, she writes to him that it has been so long that she can no longer be his wife. She will come to visit, but only as a friend. Of course he is angry, and asks her not to visit again. He doesn’t answer her letters, and after a year she stopped writing.
Roy’s attorney had worked hard on an appeal against the sentence, and, after Roy had been in prison for five years, the appeal succeeded. Roy wrote to Celestial to tell her he will soon be home. It was just after Celestial was going to talk to the attorney about getting a divorce, and just after Andre had bought a ring for her.
The greater and most powerful part of the novel is about the dilemma in which all the three characters now find themselves. Roy has a visceral hunger to resume his marriage to Celestina. Celestial and Andre are torn between their love for each other and their guilt about what their marriage would do to Roy, who has suffered so much in prison. We feel for each of the three of them; the scenes are intensely charged and very dramatic; and we are on tenterhooks about how it will all end. Until the very last pages, we have no idea.