- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062236679
- ISBN-13: 978-0062236678
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 518 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 5, 2013
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*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
“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)
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That’s not true of this book of essays. Her life ties them all together and the pieces are biographical without being a biography. It’s one country, but with a great deal of diversity, both geographical and temporal. It was good to get to know the girl who would write The Patron Saint of Liars (still my favorite) and her parents. Her reference to her father’s work as a police detective involved in the Manson case got me searching for his name in Helter Skelter. After finding him there, I was quickly reminded that Bugliosi only had room for one hero in his book, and that spot was reserved for himself.
Her story about the events leading up to her marriage (the marriage of the title) gives new meaning to the phrase, “The heart wants what it wants”. She is best when recounting her personal relationships, especially with her grandmother and with Sister Nena, the person who literally taught her to write. It was nice to be reminded of what I liked about Catholicism.
Thank goodness for my friend. I absolutely loved this book. I am sad it is over. I can't wait to explore her other books. I want to make a pilgrimage to her bookstore!