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Revolutionary Road [Paperback]

Richard Yates
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

13 Dec 2007
Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary. With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April's decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.

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  • Click here for the Revolutionary Road reading guide. The guide includes a section on Revolutionary Road, an interview with author Richard Yates, a list of other works by Richard Yates, suggestions for further reading and suggested online resources.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics; Reprint edition (13 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099518627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099518624
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Originally published in 1961 to great critical acclaim, Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road subsequently fell into obscurity in the UK, only to be rediscovered in a new edition published in 2001. Its rejuvenation is due in large part to its continuing emotional and moral resonance for an early 21st-century readership. April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled or happy in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paid but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. However, as their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfilment are thrown into jeopardy. Yates's incisive, moving and often very funny prose weaves a tale that is at once a fascinating period piece and a prescient anticipation of the way we live now. Many of the cultural motifs now seem quaintly dated--the early evening cocktails, Frank's illicit lunch breaks with his secretary, the way Frank isn't averse to knocking April around when she speaks out of turn all seem to belong to a different world--and yet the quiet desperation at thwarted dreams reverberates as much now as it did 40 years ago. Like F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the poverty at the soul of many wealthy Americans and the exacting cost of chasing the American Dream. --Jane Morris --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"I hand out copies of Revolutionary Road to anyone who will take of the most moving and exact portraits of suburbia in all of American literature"--David Hare, The Observer

"The Great Gatsby of my time... One of the best books by a member of my generation"--Kurt Vonnegut

"The best novel ever written about the death of the American dream"--Kate Atkinson, Daily Telegraph

"The excellence of Revolutionary Road lies in the integrity with which its author depicts the Wheelers' disintegrated marriage... [The characters reveal themselves] with an intensity that excited the reader's compassion as well as his interest."--The Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
How come I only just heard about this fantastic book? Set in 1950s suburban Connecticut, it tells the story of the less than idyllic relationship of Frank and April Wheeler. Although an onlooker may see them as an ideal couple in an ideal situation they both have layers and layers of dissatisfaction which come to the surface as their marriage crumbles.

The book was written in 1961 and seems to encapsulate all that we have come to associate with the previous decade. April appears willing to give up any pretence of a career to look after house and children while Frank goes each day to his "boring" office job (but he manages to find time for an affair with a secretary). Everyone drinks and smokes to excess - even in pregnancy. Frank's boss declares electronic computers to be the coming thing.....

Although both Frank and his neighbour Shep sometimes reflect on their time in the army during the war very little of the wider outside world creeps into the empty surburban world of Frank and April and their small circle of acquaintances. April comes up with a plan to move the family to France believing this will give Frank a fresh impetus to "find himself" but from the start you wonder if this will never happen.

Revolutionary Road is powerfully written and draws you into the lives of the Wheelers and their neighbours the Campbells and the Givings. It has some darkly comic moments and many flashes of brilliance. Yes, an American classic.

Did the creators of Mad Men (US TV series) get some of their inspiration from this book?
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Road to perdition 22 Mar 2009
The Richard Yates back-story has passed into popular literary legend: the acclaimed author who never sold more than 12,000 copies per hardback, and whose works were largely out of print before being rediscovered posthumously and enjoying a revival. For a Yates novice such as myself this might seem a little too good to be true but I felt duty bound to read his first novel 'Revolutionary Road' before its characters were forever synonymous with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet (the main players in a recent Sam Mendes adaptation).

Revolutionary Road is a brutal story about marital dysfunction in America during the 1950s, revolving around Frank and April Wheeler's attempts to extricate themselves from the stifling banality of suburban life and begin again in Europe. Unabashedly cynical, Yates gets to the heart of his characters' insecurities and pretensions with unfussy clarity. The author wastes no time in exposing Frank and April for their limitations and displays little sympathy for their (self-destructive) aspirations. This might have seemed too savage had Yates been a lesser writer, and not able to weigh his words with extraordinary perception. Economical in its insights, I found reading 'Revolutionary Road' refreshing following Richard Ford's - himself apparently a Yates disciple - insight top-heavy `Independence Day', which spends so much longer labouring over its observations.

Frank's work on what is later described as "that awful stone path going half way down the front lawn and ending in a mud puddle" becomes a metaphor for the folly of suburban espousal.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Published in 1961, this tale of 1950s suburban despair focuses most squarely on its male protagonist, Frank Wheeler, but it's much more his wife, April's, story. Pregnancy trapped her in the life expected for her, while he looked for (and apparently found) an un-taxing job in a corporation too large and inefficient to see how little he does.
Yet with suburban liberals having grimly hushed conversations on the state of US politics over almost subversive cuttings from the Manchester Guardian and the Observer (I thought US reading of the Guardian was internet trend) and obsession with new technology (Frank sells 'counting machines' and, maybe soon, $2m computers) it's easy to forget that this is the 1950s. Nevertheless, while April's desire for abortion and to go out and work is less shocking to contemporary ears, it still reads as fantasy.
Unhappiness fuels great disdain for all of suburbia and its inhabitants. Rather than pretend to be happy and get on, April dreams of immigrating to Paris, where she images a life of freedom; a life where she'll be the breadwinner and he'll 'find himself'. And Frank allows her to believe they have what it takes... for a time.
Ultimately, Revolutionary Road's not just a tale of despair and isolation, written at a time when the idea of feeling alone in a city of millions was a foreign concept. Or of a woman fighting society's expectations, written pre-feminism. It's a story of conformity and how easily those who fail to conform are labelled 'insane'.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
An astoundingly well told tale of a couple trying to live happy lives in 50s America. Devastatingly accurate its portrayals of vanity, manhood and ambition as well as deceit, depression and the absurd faces we put on situations attributed to being part of 'normal life'. This is one of the best, most potent American books I've read and it's not hard to see why it was regarded as a classic from the moment it was published.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
Easy to get straight into the period and mindset. Great characters and mood building moments.
Published 2 days ago by Jane Woodward
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 days ago by AndyT
3.0 out of 5 stars I seem blind to what excites at least some readers.
I came to this novel after reading the author’s earlier work, “Disturbing the Peace” which I found a good deal less than enthralling. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Bluecashmere.
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read
I liked how easy it was to read and the fact that it centred around three different families all with a different yet similar experience of suburban life
Published 21 days ago by Ashling Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Although set in the 50s this book rings painfully true on the challenges modern life throws up and cuts deep into the male psyche with all its insecurities laid bare for ridicule. Read more
Published 2 months ago by LPG
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant read
I love love love this book...this is the second time I have read it (a rarity-I can't remember a book I've read twice until this one) It is brilliantly written, Yates writing is... Read more
Published 3 months ago by su46
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning - May affect your life
An excellent if inexorably sad novel that plumbs the depths and heights of the partnership of marriage.
Profoundly disturbing and rightly so. The madman is the wine man.
Published 4 months ago by Mick B.
5.0 out of 5 stars "No-one forgets the truth; they just get better at lying."
Frank and April Wheeler have the perfect 1950s lifestyle - the nice house in suburbia, the two children; he with the daily commute to a good job in the city; she, a home-maker,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by FictionFan
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark modern 'Gatsby'
Quite a lot of the critics referred to this book as some sort of modern Gatsby, and I can see why. As a modern deconstruction, this time of the traditional family, of forming a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Paul Reynolds
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable modern classic
Revolutionary Road is a page-turning, cracking-good novel that is one of the most insightful books ever written about contemporary American culture. Read more
Published 6 months ago by CFB London
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