This is a deeply disturbing, unsentimental, unsparing portrait of a married couple. No cliches, just brutal honesty--so brutal that it's hard to read. Great writing, but not showy, and amazing pyschological insights into the characters. You're often both repelled by and empathize with the husband and wife at the center of the story.
The story itself is rather simple: a domestic drama about April and Frank Wheeler and their kids, set in the 1950s, dealing with jobs, friends, children, and their dreams for the future. The book paints a bleak picture about the choices they make and their fading idealism. Although it was written in '61 and describes the '50s, it still feels fresh.
I don't use the word masterpiece lightly...This book really blew me away. The movie follows the plot closely but fails to truly capture the emotional point of the story. The power is in the character's internal lives...so if you've seen the movie and not read the book, please give the book a try.
This was one of the most well written books I have ever read. The plot is very concise and flows seamlessly, so Yates has a lot of room to develop the characters. Heartbreak and restlessness seep through the pages, and the reader is left with one of the most memorable endings ever.
This book paints a dreary picture of life in the suburbs and a life unfullfilled. At the same time you want to grab the characters and shake them.. make them wake up and either do something about their lives or find satisfaction in what their reality is.
Beautifully written, expressive story - I love how the author describes the emotions and thoughts of the characters. However, the characters are dreary, self-involved unhappy people who look down their noses at "regular" people, all the while living in denial of their own regular-ness. The story was an interesting and sad depiction of society.
This book started out slowly, but by page 70 I was hooked! Even though it was written in 1961 and has the theme of the futility of suburban life in the 1950s, it still rang true for life today. Fabulous character development. Really enjoyed it a lot.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Contrary to the other reviews posted, I found it very interesting and insightful. I have not yet seen the movie, and am curious about how it will be done, because in general the story of the book is bland and sad, but the way the book is written, with pages and pages of inner monolouge which gives you insight into the emotion of the characters, makes the story worthwhile. Without all of the details you get from the characters thought life, I don't think I would like the story line very much.
The characters are real, they go beyond the cliche of middle life suburbia, and they made me think about my own priorities and future. I thought the book was well written, however if you don't like "deep" "contemplative" literature, this may not be the book for you. It takes a bit of engagement to get into it fully.
This was a very different read for me. I enjoyed it but found it bitter sweet. It leaves you with a real complacent feeling, as though you too should be doing more with your life. I felt bad for both main characters, April is totally misunderstood by her husband and subject to his endless manipulation and Frank doesn't know how diluted he is. Although many aspects of this book are dated, (its set in the 1950s) it is remarkable how the general theme of the book is very applicable today.
The sadness of this beautifully written book will stay with me for a long time. Frank and April Wheeler live the "American Dream" in a Connecticut suburb in 1955, a period of apparent optimism and striving for upward mobility in the United States. Although part of the community, they continue to denigrate it, seeing themselves as somehow apart from the cliched materialism and posturing of their neighbors. Sadly, their aspirations to set themselves apart are not compatible with their capabilities. Eventually their arguments escalate to an unbearable pitch, and the reader sees them plunge toward an inevitable disaster. I greatly admire Richard Yates' craftsmanship in this absorbing and sobering novel.
This book was very hard to get into and a bit boring at times. I found myself thinking about other things rather than this book. Although, it does have a good story line. Its message is clear and makes you wonder about others "perfect" lives. It ends sad and somewhat predictable.
I picked up Revolutionary Road because I mistakenly thought it was on the list of 1001 books you must read before you die, but I feel it could be. Richard Yates eloquently writes about alienation in the 1950s. Frank and April Wheeler seem like the quintessential middle-class couple, but Yates' characterization gives a rich, nuanced picture of how they feel trapped in their dystopian suburban Connecticut existence. However, unlike many novels with psychologically detailed portrayals, the plot moves along and touches on profound themes such as love, mental illness, morality and gender roles. It is a satisfying book that makes one reflect on what constitutes a well-lived life.
Wow, this was a depressing book. I have not seen the movie yet but could totally picture that this book was written for Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio. I was surprised to find the book was written in 1961! The author definitely conveys the sense of despondency that these characters apparently feel.
I started out hating this book, based on the first approximately 100 pages, but I ended up liking it after that. Yates writes well and his sardonic sense of humor had me laughing out loud at times. The main characters were unlikable and pretentious and I preferred when Yates wrote about the other people in Frank and April's sphere.
This book was amazing and really made me think about myself and how I think about other people. The paragraph structure of conversations is so unique, it flawlessly jumps from the situation, to what Frank wants to tell his wife later, back to the situation, to what Frank actually tells his wife, back to the situation... I could really relate to that because I'm often thinking of what I'm going to tell people later. I haven't seen the movie yet but I can't imagine that it's any good because it was the writing that made this book so remarkable.
I have to admit that the only reason I finally picked up this book was because I caught the last 30 minuets or so of the movie on TV and was intrigued. Then I learned that it was a book and so I decided to read the book before I watched the whole movie. I still have yet to see the whole movie, but based on what I saw the book is better than the movie and I thought what I saw was pretty good!
I'm really not 100% sure why I liked this book so much. I didn't like Frank, and I despised April. They just weren't good people. They both seemed to be a bit self-centered and not quite "grown-up". So how I enjoyed a book so much when I didn't like the main characters is a mystery to me. I thought that they both needed a big dose of reality and that the world needed to knock them down a bit. But the supporting characters were pretty good. And the overall character development was great. It would have been a lot harder to despise them if I'd not had such a good understanding of them!
The writing in this book was great. I could picture everything in my mind as I was reading. At the beginning of the book I saw Leonardo and Kate as Frank and April, but as I continued to read the image I had of them in my mind changed so much. That was really impressive to me. When I read a book after I've already seen the movie I tend to use the actor's and actresses in my mental image of the book. I don't know if it was more attributed to the fact that I've only seen part of the movie or the fact that the writing in this book was really good and over-rode my natural tendency to rely on images I already have. Either way it was refreshing to read a book without picturing the actors that were in the movie.
This book is wonderfully written... almost wonderfully enough to keep you interested but not quite. I love what I call 'quiet tragedies' but this one is just a little too stale. Add that to the fact that I saw the movie several months ago (and although slightly boring it only took a couple hours to endure) and the book goes along quite well with the movie so there were no suprises. Its not the worst book ever written but its not one you can read all at one time at a risk of being bored or depressed into a stupor.
I saw the movie before I read this book. One problem I had with the movie was - I wanted to know what the characters were thinking and what their inner dialogue would be. I purchased the book with that hope, and it delivered. It helped lend insight into the characters' actions in the film. It is a quick read, and a really helpful compliment to the movie.
This book was wonderful. The characters were well written and you became sorry for both Frank and April. The saddness that these characters felt with their own lives were evident throughout the pages. I could not put it down!!! I can't wait to see the movie.
"I think the writing is first-rate. The plot avoids making melodramatic martyrs out of the characters. There is no portrayal of Frank and April has being these intrinsically Byronic repressed-artist types. The closest the book comes to that are April's vague thespian ambitions. What we have is more of a sense of unsettledness in the milieu of Eisenhower-era suburbia.
The interesting part of their characterization is the depiction of the events of their youths, April's loveless childhood and Frank's wanderlust and his vague sense that he was meant for something big. Thus, it isn't just the intrinsic qualities of suburbia but the Wheeler's ill-adaptedness to it.
At the risk of giving too much away, the shifting in the perspective of the story to the Campbells from the Wheelers was a deft choice. I have to think that having a mentally unbalanced character making the trenchant observations he makes in the book has a cliched feel to it (sort of like having a blind character be the most insightful).
I think that back in 1961, the idea of a dry rot lying inside 1950s suburbia was probably had more of an impact then it would now. This is largely because the Wheeler's of the 1960s and 1970s were, in fact, more daring in living out of the box then their 1950s predecessors. Likewise, the use of the consideration of abortion as a plot device would've carried more weight pre-Roe v. Wade"...http://books.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977964287
I recommends this book; it maybe slow to read at frist, but it is more in detail than the movie. This story shows the lifestyle of the 50's and a deeply troubled couple.
I bought this book because I wanted to see the movie. I figured whatever story had brought Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio back together had to be top-notch. I'm still holding out hope for the movie.
I found the story very boring. It's clearly written by a man who never attempts to get into the female psyche. We're given countless descriptions of how Frank held his jaw and what image he was trying to present. His wife is only ever seen through his eyes. I would have loved to see inside her thinking.
It's disappointing because it could have been so much more. A more balanced look at mid-life from the point of view of the very traditional 50s. Instead, it was the man's point of view in a decade that already left no room for a woman to be like April.
This is a very readable and realistically-written, although depressing, novel about the dissolution of a marriage in what was supposed to be the "ideal" 1950s American suburbs. Telling the tragic story of a quasi-bohemian couple conditioning themselves to suburban life (the classic picket fence, couple of kids, office job, etc.), the book explores the ideas of societal constraints and individuality, and the characters are written believably. I found myself drawn into the plot because the situation was so engaging, but the characters themselves can quickly seem rather sour. At the dark end of the novel, though, these flaws are justified and one realizes they've just read a work that speaks profound, yet very sad, truths still applicable to today's readers. Recommended, as is the splendidly shot and acted film version.
This book was weird. A little to let's look in our navel. It had some interesting observations about life in the 50s, but with the amount of time spend in the heads of the characters, I don't feel like I really understand anything about them.
Frank is a jerk, who thinks he is more than what he is. April is a broken woman who needs some psycho therapy. Their so-called friends are wanna bees. I think the most true character in the book is Ms. Givens. She is herself and doesn't make excuses for it.
I didn't "get" the point of the story. What gives?
What a total waste of ink. This book was about as exciting as a bowl of vanilla pudding, full of whiny, angst-ridden, self-centered, incredibly shallow characters mired in mid-1950s suburbia blandness. Pah. Ptui.
I really wanted to like this book --- but it just never really clicked with me. This is the story of Frank and April set in the mid 1950's in the greater New York area. It's really a story of the emotional turmoil between a couple in their early thirties and the people that touch, or don't touch (in the case of distant parents) their lives.
It was a fairly fast read, but I didn't ever really feel connected to the story. To me there was too much posturing between the characters. It was a pretty bleak story.
I know it was written in 1961, and nominated for the National Book Award. Perhaps it was more cutting edge when it was first published. To me today it just seemed sad.
In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is about to crumble.With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves
In the hopeful 1950's, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be the model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family yoo early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainly is about to crumble. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity. Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.
The book description sounded interesting, but I could not get into it. I wanted to see the movie, but decided to read the book first. If not for the movie, I would have put the book down. One of the main characters, Frank, is selfish and narcisistic. He is unfaithful to his wife many times and ends up breaking his last mistress' heart. I felt sorry for Alice, but then in the end, didn't feel too sorry for her as she ended up being almost as bad as Frank. She comes to the conclusion that she never loved him and she spends an evening in the back of a car with a man. Frank and Alice have a couple that they are good friends with (not really, but it is the couple they hang out with the most) and this is the man she has sex with in the car. His name is Shep. Shep decided a while ago that he worships Alice from afar...
The book also throughs in a couple that lives next door to Frank and Alice, Mr. & Mrs. Givings, who have a son who is committed to a sanitarium from time to time. Alice can't stand Mrs. givings, neither can Frank. this whole twiest to the story doesn't make sense and doesn't add much ro it, other than to help Frank think that Alice is possibly off her rocker herself, but doesn't get into that idea much...
Alice almost aborted her first child herself. A friend told her how to do it. Frank was so upset that she would even suggest doing this to their child. Alice wanted to end the child's life since she conceieved accidently too soon in their marriage. She ends up wanting to do the same thing to the third child. She had concocted a plan for their family to move to Europe and this fouled up their future. Frank still doesn't want her to abort the child, expecially herself. The safe window to do this is the first trimester. Frank ends up telling Alice about his most serious fling with Maureen. Alice told him he never should have said a thing. She tells him that she never loved him. While their two children are in the care of Milly, Alice performs the procedure (which is now past the supposed safety zone) on herself. She wrote a note to her husband, short one, in case she wouldn't survive. Of course, she doesn't. Bu she his the equipment so it looked like a miscarriage.
In the end, his wife Milly gossips to every new person, especially the ones who buy Frank and Alice's home, about Alice's death. Shep can't stand it when she does this.
I just had to read the book to get to the end. I don't think I'll go see the movie. I was so disappointed. I don't understand all the rage about the book or the movie. I have trouble with people who are in love with themselves and put themselves above others. I don't see how I can go watch the movie.
I wouldn't waste my time reading this book or seeing the movie if I were you.