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Revolutionary Road Paperback – 13 Dec 2007

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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 (13 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099518627
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099518624
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,682 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Suzie on 8 April 2009
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Don't be put off if you find `Revolutionary Road' somewhat tedious at first. A brilliant exploration of the underlying feelings, dissatisfaction, and innuendo that can cause a relationship to develop, flounder, and finally fall apart, it's not an uplifting story, nor are any of the characters particularly appealing. For large parts of the book I really couldn't care what became of any of them. By the end, though, I was drawn into their lives to the point where, whilst still not liking them, I did at least feel some sympathy for them.

I can't even say that I liked the book - it's hardly an entertaining read, there's no feel-good factor and some may find it rather depressing - but I've given it 5 stars because, despite everything, it's an exceptional novel. You have to stop and think about the technique in order to appreciate just how perceptive and penetrating Richard Yates is. His attention to everyday detail is outstanding. The observations are so astute and often so subtle that it would be easy to read over them at a superfluous level and not appreciate their contribution to the story.

If you're not interested in the minutiae of relationships or are after an enjoyable holiday or bedtime read this is not for you. But it's a classic of its kind, a novel every serious reader should tackle at some time or other.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Jun 2008
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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 By Demob Happy on 22 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
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 By Stephen Newton on 25 Nov 2004
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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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