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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Paperback – Deckle Edge, October 7, 2014
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“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)
From the Back Cover
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 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.
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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!