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The Amateur Marriage [Audio CD]

Anne Tyler
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
RRP: £39.95
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Book Description

31 Dec 2004
From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage—and its consequences, spanning three generations.

They seemed like the perfect couple—young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.

Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable.

From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counterculture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayered apparel of later years, Anne Tyler captures the evocative nuances of everyday life during these decades with such telling precision that every page brings smiles of recognition. Throughout, as each of the competing voices bears witness, we are drawn ever more fully into the complex entanglements of family life in this wise, embracing, and deeply perceptive novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group; Unabridged edition (31 Dec 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739310429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739310427
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 14.8 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,538,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage and Digging to America. In 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English'. Anne Tyler lives in Baltimore where her novels are set.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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, --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A brilliant writer...funny, tragic, wise" -- Lynne Truss Independent "A warm, compelling read - and another brilliant showcase for Tyler's talent for taking a common experience and lifting it out of the ordinary" Daily Mirror "The meanings of this beautifully written novel reach far wider than Baltimore. I shed a tear as I finished the Antons' story" -- Paul Barker Evening Standard "Mesmerising" The Economist "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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars live life, life lives! 31 Jan 2004
I finished reading this book about 10 minutes ago and am still really tearful.
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tyler back on form and as good as anybody 22 Dec 2004
The Amateur Marriage is a story of a marriage, told with ten year gaps between chapters, allowing the novel to reflect the ups and downs of life as it is impacted by events in the world, and changing social attitudes, but most of all the development and growth (and ultimatley decay) of a relationship between husband and wife. The titls of this books is just perfect - all marriages are "amateur" in that nobody trains you or teaches you in advance how to deal with the calamitous events that come along, nor with the basic and fundamental differences between the character and values of the two partners.
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First great book of 2004 19 Feb 2004
This is almost a perfect book. Some critics seemed to be saying that it was about the sort of marriage that shouldn't have happened. But here is (sadly?) the reality of human life, painted with the surest brush strokes.
She lets us into the lives of her characters, lets them mess up, annoy us, allows us to sympathise and judge, and then refuses to judge. It's the result of extraordinary control of authorial voice. Virginia Woolf had a go: Mr Ramsay died in parentheses, for example, in 'To the Lighthouse'. But she would just want to kill herself all over again if she could see the level of fine honing that has gone into this nearly unfeasible novel.
You really must buy it, take the day off work, stay in bed and read 'The Amateur Marriage' through to the end.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a superb read 27 Dec 2004
This really is a mesmerising book.
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great holiday read 4 Jan 2005
I read an Anne Tyler book,A Patchwork Planet, some months ago and thought I'd try another. The Amateur Marriage was such an easy read that I had devoured it in a couple of days. Her writing flows so easily and the characters are carefully drawn through their interaction with each other rather than through long narratives. It's so easy to relate to the people in her story, how they react and how those reactions change with age and circumstances. Great book. Asked for another Anne Tyler for Christmas....
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a page turner
It was a page turner but characters thin with some limitations. Many were just 2 dimensional. Narrative was engaging but there was a limited amount of thought provoking issues. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Ann F.
5.0 out of 5 stars bereft...
I am almost finished with this book, this wonderful book. I cannot bear for it to end, because that means I will then have read ALL of Anne Tyler's books. Read more
Published 1 month ago by lilycoton
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Tyler
I adore Anne Tyler her books are believable and perfectly observed.The characters are warm and real. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Artimiss
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read
A family saga spanning several generations of the Anton family. I enjoyed Anne Tyler's writing and the pace with which the story moves. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Barbara
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp, funny and true to life
This story unwinds over the course of two lifetimes. Pauline and Michael are the most romantic- looking couple. Read more
Published 4 months ago by PenFriend
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite my style of book
I found this rather bland with a story line that didn't really appeal. I would not seak out another book by Anne Tyler
Published 16 months ago by carol
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellend Tyler read
Love Anne Tyler books, so wanted to add this to my collection, enjoyed reading it and will read it again
Published 17 months ago by Jview
3.0 out of 5 stars The Amateur Marriage
The Amateur Marriage was easy to read but hated all the characters - none of them was likeable therefore it wasn't.a very satisfying read.
Published 21 months ago by Mrs. R. K. Levene
4.0 out of 5 stars Great author.
I think you have to love Tyler's style to enjoy this. Fortunately I do. It's subtle and in parts beautiful. Gets to the heart of people and their inner workings. I'm a fan.
Published 23 months ago by Pastispast
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
I read other reviews of this book and thank goodness I wasn't put off by those who only gave it 3 and 2 stars. It was a fabulous read. Read more
Published on 28 Mar 2012 by Kindle Junkie
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