- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Sept. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099469596
- ISBN-13: 978-0099469599
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Amateur Marriage Paperback – 2 Sep 2004
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Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage is not so much a novel as a really long argument. Michael is a good boy from a Polish neighbourhood in Baltmore; Pauline is a harum-scarum, bright-cheeked girl who blows into Michael's family's grocery store at the outset of World War II. She appears with a bloodied brow, supported by a gaggle of girlfriends. Michael patches her up, and neither of them are ever the same. Well, not the same as they were before, but pretty much the same as everyone else. After the war, they live over the shop with Michael's mother until they've saved enough to move to the suburbs. There they remain with their three children, until the onset of the 60s, when their eldest daughter runs away to San Francisco. Their marriage survives for a while, finally crumbling in the 70s.
If this all sounds a tad generic, Tyler's case isn't helped by the characteristics she's given the two spouses. Him: repressed, censorious, quiet. Her: voluble, emotional, romantic. Mars, meet Venus. What marks this couple, though, and what makes them come alive, is their bitter, unproductive, tooth-and-nail fighting. Tyler is exploring the way that ordinary-seeming, prosperous people can survive in emotional poverty for years on end. She gets just right the tricks Michael and Pauline play on themselves in order to stay together: "How many times", Pauline asks herself, "when she was weary of dealing with Michael, had she forced herself to recall the way he'd looked that first day? The slant of his fine cheekbones, the firming of his lips as he pressed the adhesive tape in place on her forehead". Only in antogonism do Michael and Pauline find a way to express themselves. --Claire Dederer, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A brilliant writer…funny, tragic, wise" (Lynne Truss Independent)
"Anne Tyler is a formidably skilful story-teller, with every narrative trick at her effortless command" (Daily Telegraph)
"Tyler's compelling, moving and often amusing tale is the story of any marriage - every page brings a smile of recognition to the reader" (Daily Mail)
"The meanings of this beautifully written novel reach far wider than Baltimore. I shed a tear as I finished the Antons' story" (Evening Standard)
"Tyler is an exquisite chronicler of the everyday" (Observer)
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Top Customer Reviews
A modern saga. It's a fantastic book spanning 3 or 4 generations of the Anton family in Baltimore ... a family tree of real humanity brought into being by Michael and Pauline.
At the beginning of the book they are in their early 20s and we live through their lives and those of their children and their children's children until the two are elderly.
You never know what will happen in life, you never know what may happen as a result of decisions you make and you never really know what is right and what is wrong, what you should do and what you shouldn't.
And at the end of it all, in your final chapter, do you actually resolve anything? Have you lived life in the best way you could? I can't say any more for fear of giving the story away ... but I hope my insight adds to the main synopsis on this page ... a synopsis that doesn't really capture the main point of the book.
I have been reading Anne Tyler books since I heard that another fave author of mine Nick Hornby loves her work. This book isn't funny but Anne Tyler has the ability to really put her finger on the button sometimes ... and even cynical old me had to stop and re-read some of those classic observations of hers. And for your information, I'm an indie rock music fan in my early 30s who loves nothing better than going out for far too many beers on a Friday night ... why am I reading this kind of stuff? I hugely recommend it though. Off to get some tissues now.
The novel starts just before the Second World War, when Michael meets Pauline, and immediately gets swept up into joining the army along with his childhood friends. The young couple barely have time to get to know each other, and when Michael returns early from the war with a gunshot wound, it seems inevitable that they wil marry and set up home together. Children come along, bringing with them the usual stresses and strains on marriage, particularly when the oldest daughter Lindy suddenly walks out of her parents lives to live in San Francisco at the height of the hippy movement.
Ths loss of the child is painfully described, as Michael and Pauline wait anxiously (intially) and resignedly (later) for their daughter to return. It would spoil the book if I was to detail the eventual reunion, but let me say that this brings as many problems as did the eventual departure.
Tyler is a deeply humanistic writer who depicts the complexities of the human condition while making no attempt to judge or comment on what she sees. We see people follow the tracks laid out for them, and we also read of some who broke away, with high, almost unbearable cost on those left behind.Read more ›
Ignore the grumpy teenager's comments below - i think they're moaning more about english lessons in general than writing a critique of the book.
This truly is a 5 star book. The gift that Anne Tyler has is in realising that life revolves on small moments and subtle changes in light and mood. There are passages that are achingly beautiful in depicting the characters and their emotions.
Life is about love & regret. This book realises that perfectly.
Anne Tyler in all her books has a talent for getting you right inside the characters, so that you enjoy the subtleties and nuances, the pain and joy of their lives.
I recommend this book whole-heartedly - it is a thing of beauty and joy and poignancy and sadness.
Then also read her other books - 'the ladder of years' is similarly superb.
The Amateur Marriage is a book that any couple considering marriage . . . or any couple who's marriage is floundering should read. We aren't born with the personality and skills to get along with another person for a lifetime. Most people who enjoy a long, happy marriage either did a great job of becoming acquainted before marrying . . . or developed great coping skills and attitudes afterwards. The Amateur Marriage explores the theme of what happens when these elements are not present.
For Michael and Pauline it was virtually love at first sight in the shadows of Pearl Harbor. A whirlwind romance was punctuated by Michael leaving for the Army. When he returns, she accepts his proposal. Their icy and fragile characters soon develop as they begin their lives together. Like a diamond and a glacier, they cut deeply into one another . . . and spill pain on all around them.
One of the beauties of this book is that Ms. Tyler tries to avoid blaming one partner more than the other for the marriage's problems. In fact, she only slowly reveals all of the underpinnings for their unhappiness. Clearly, a little more communication, candor and time spent with one another could have avoided the whole problem. Yet the initial mistake is compounded and moves forward two more generations in this intriguing story.
I found myself comparing this book to We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates. I thought that The Amateur Marriage is vastly better done in terms of the story, the characters and the lessons.
Be aware that this is not a happy story, but it's one that will ring true for many people. Remember that truth alone can bring beauty . . . and that's what Ms. Tyler provides for her fans in this remarkable book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent novel as I have come to expect from Anne Tyler. I love the quality of her writing and the way that she takes you to a small world and makes it such a fascinating... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Maggie Stevens
As always, Anne Tyler paints a picture of a regular family with all their quirks and flaws. I can never put her books down.Published 1 month ago by JainEm
I really enjoyed reading this and did not want to put it down. I highly recommend it to you allPublished 1 month ago by KTMooch
Title of the book perfectly describes the relationship between the coup!e. Beautifully told.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Easy to read. Interesting how love and contempt can alternate in a long-term relationship and how small incidents can change one's path dramatically.Published 2 months ago by SuziQ
A great read. I was really gripped and enjoyed the various surprises throughout the book. I recommend this.Published 2 months ago by B. L. Risk
Loved all her characters and the way the story unfolded. She's always fantastic and I also enjoy the Baltimore background for her stories. Fabulous author.Published 2 months ago by Mrobrit