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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She was always misunderstood
"Easter Parade" follows American sisters, Emily and Sarah Grimes, over forty years. They enter adulthood during WWII, and their lives follow tremendously different trajectories. Sarah is the traditional one: she marries early, has three children, and settles into a seemingly idyllic life in the countryside. Emily is more independent, and she experiences a series of...
Published on 8 Aug 2004 by Westley

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing
After reading Revolutionary Road and a couple of books of Yates' superb short stories, plus reviews that rated this book highly, I was a little disappointed with The Easter Parade. It is very readable, well-written and entertaining, but it isn't in the same league as his best work. It feels somehow lighter, doesn't hit quite as hard, nor reach the intensity and brilliance...
Published on 30 Jan 2010 by Phil O'Sofa


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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She was always misunderstood, 8 Aug 2004
By 
Westley (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
"Easter Parade" follows American sisters, Emily and Sarah Grimes, over forty years. They enter adulthood during WWII, and their lives follow tremendously different trajectories. Sarah is the traditional one: she marries early, has three children, and settles into a seemingly idyllic life in the countryside. Emily is more independent, and she experiences a series of unsatisfying intimate relationships and drifts through life. The novel chiefly concerns the relationship, or lack thereof, between the sisters and their family. The story climaxes in the 1960's with mild invocations of the women's liberation movement, and Yates draws clear parallels between the sisters and their times. Although the time period is specific, the characters remain amazingly relatable and universal.

The most exceptional aspect of Yates's writing is the effortlessness with which he encapsulates life: "The Easter Parade" is a relatively short novel - yet it's remarkably complete due to Yates's talent in creating scenes that so clearly recapitulate a particular period in the sisters' lives. Yates is best-known for his brilliant debut, "Revolutionary Road." His subsequent novels have received considerably less acclaim - an untenable situation considering the quality and exquisiteness of his writing. With "The Easter Parade" the story is simple but heart-breaking; the characters are unforgettable; the final epiphany is indisputable. Most highly recommended.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the easter parade, 29 Jun 2007
By 
Leyla Sanai "leyla" (glasgow) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
The Easter Parade can be seen as a bleak novel in that great swathes of sadness, loneliness and ugliness permeate through the protagonists' lives. Much of this is due to Yates's simple, matter-of-fact style. He relates the story in a no-frills way, so that the utter pointlessness of life pokes through like a bony white toe through a threadbare sock. He rarely dwells on events and in many ways skims over the joys - motherhood, aunthood, love, friendship - that punctuate life. Seen from this vantage point, any life might appear bleak: the bitter-sweetness of childhood, the disappointment of finding that noone is perfect, the vileness of physically and emotionally cruel people, serial monogamy which, if a person ends up single, can be seen pessimistically as a series of failures, the ant-like way we live, scurry around and then die. That Yates manages to make the novel not only readable but also mesmerising is testament to his powers as a story teller. In Yates's hands, less does mean more, his pared-down style and conscious absence of literary gymnastics resulting in story-telling that is simultaneously easy to digest and hugely satisfying.

The story follows the lives of two sisters, Sarah and Emily Grimes, daughters of divorced parents, born in 1921 and 1925 respectively. Growing up with their flighty mother with occasional visits to their idealised father, they are very different. Sarah embraces conventionality and settles down early for what she hopes is an idyllic life with English public school-educated Tony who, to her infatuated eyes, looks like a young Laurence Olivier. Emily is spikier and more independant; she samples sex before marriage and decides she rather likes it, so she follows a more (for the time) daring route in life, working and having serial relationships with men. But long-term happiness is elusive for both sisters. Throughout their lives, they keep in touch, and their sisterly relationship is as complex as sibling relationships can be, their undoubted mutual love coloured with swirls of jealousy (Emily milks her sister for stories of Sarah's relationship with her father but simmers with envy and rage at their exclusive affection) and intolerance (Emily knows she should offer her sister sanctuary from her SPOILER: violent marriage , but when it comes to the crunch, she doesn't want her current relationship threatened by Sarah's presence.

The simplicity of Yates's style is in many ways deceptive - huge themes are tackled, but with a touch so light that the ensuing thought-process is largely the reader's. This works well - rather than being force-fed processed emotions like a foie gras goose with purreed nutrients , the reader bites the crisp, uncluttered text and thinks for themselves. When Yates writes of Emily meeting her father for lunch 'she thought he looked surprisingly old as he came down the steps, wearing a raincoat that wasn't quite clean', he encapsulates succinctly the shock many people feel when they first become conscious of their ageing parents' impending mortality and their fallibility.

Of particular understated power are Emily's attempts to find love. At one point she says she doesn't know what love is, but, like most people, she keeps looking. Any person's serial relationships would appear depressing when viewed in retrospect; the hopes with which one embarks on each relationship being dashed by either one's own disillusionment or the other person's.

Perhaps the book's blackness is in part due to Yates's refusal to give in to sentimentality - he doesn't describe the little joys that characterise the good parts in a relationship or life, so that the reader is left with a skeletal sketch of the failures of each. But peering through the dark, I did catch glimpses of hope. For all Tony's grim, bigoted, veiled thuggishness and the joylessness of two of his sons, his and Sarah's middle son Peter is a ray of light, a kind, sensitive person who responds to Emily's reaching out. Even at the end, after Emily's bitter outburst, he is willing to welcome her into his home - the book's first suggestion of unconditional affection for a long time.

Powerful and understated, this is a novel that will make you think for long after you've finished.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short of his very best..., 9 Jun 2009
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
Inspired by the brilliant Revolutionary Road, I looked forward to this book. Compared to that classic, it falls short; viewed on its own merits, it's a good but untidy and uneven book. The sense of period, and the sharp attention to detail are both reminiscent of Yates' other work. His dialogue works well, and the gaps and silences in dialogue also work. Yates understands the reluctance characters might feel to confront, to push, to ask the awkward but necessary question. The relationships he draws feel vivid and lifelike.

The reasons this falls short of Revolutionary Road are twofold. Firstly, the main character (Emily) never quite gets an effective foil. She herself is a strong and colourful character, but she is allowed to drift because she never meets a worthy adversary or partner. This drift is accentuated by the lack of a strong trajectory to the plot - it moves along, but lacks the clarity of purpose that Frank and April Wheeler had - even if this was always downwards.

If you are new to Yates, this gives an idea of how he can draw character and conversation. Revolutionary Road remains, for me, the better book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Fred and Judy, 17 Feb 2010
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
The story of two sisters, Emily and Sarah Grimes, whose lives take equally tragic paths. Sarah marries young to an abusive husband, whle Emily fails to find love in a series of short, unsatisfactory relationships. Yes, it's pretty grim stuff, but you'll be hard pushed to find a writer with greater insight into how people form, sustain and are shaped by realationships.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yates at his best, 28 July 2011
By 
Mr. P. G. Mccarthy (Southampton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
Raw emotion gushes from the pages of this book. All Yates' powers of merciless observation are in evidence here. As you would expect, Yates' writing is exemplary and his characters compelling. Much of the material for the story is 'autobiographical' (Yates has said that he iis Emily in the book) and this is generally the case for all his stories, most especially Cold Spring Harbor. Easter Parade details the lives of the Grimes sisters and follows the differing trajectories these lives take. Sarah's choice is a married suburban existence whilst her younger sister, Emily, goes to college, and has a series of troubled relationships. Emily's early jealousy of her sister soon evapourates as revelations about her home life are manifested, as well as Sarah's battle with drink (a battle she will ultimately lose). The closing stages of the book, so full of loathing and rage are like nothing I've read before.

Successful relationships are not possible in Yates' stories. Each one begins with a compelling physical attraction and goes through all the stages of boredom, bitterness and hatred, all the time fuelled by a constant flow of alcohol (Yates' descrptions of drunkeness are reminiscent of Fitzgerald, who Yates was embarrased about being so in awe of).

The book is both beautiful and pessimistic. The characters try their best to control their words and behaviour, but the pressure builds and builds till finally those permanently damaging words inevitably come pouring out, wrecking everything.

The Vintage Yates collection are especially good. I love the ironic 'American Dream' covers.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Down, 3 Feb 2003
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This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
It's slightly cheeky of Richard Yates's publishers to put out The Easter Parade like a new book, in large format. He's been dead ten years of course, and just didn't have that Calvino-Cookson foresight to plug his drawers with half-baked doodlings on which his family could keep themselves in the manner etc. etc. after his death - what an idiot! - so The Easter Parade is actually an old novel, first published in 1976 and reissued now to cash in on the sleeper success of, well, his last reissue, Revolutionary Road.
Yates is no sentimentalist, and anyone who liked Revolutionary Road will not be expecting a laugh riot, but even so The Easter Parade is remarkably cruel and bleak. He puts his cards on the table in the opening sentence: "Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life..." and the following 220 pages pore over their unhappiness in forensic detail. If this was on TV it would be called When Lives Collapse! or possibly just Endurance.
The sisters are Sarah and Emily Grimes (note Dickensian naming: grim, grime). Their parents divorce and they live with their mother, who likes them to call her Pookie. Their father has a great job in a great newspaper - or so they think, until he tells them how he's really nothing more than a low-status hack. And then dies. Sarah gets married to a grunt called Tony and quickly gets a few kids under her belt. Emily meanwhile, who is really the centre of the book, goes through a string of unsuitable relationships, all of which end badly when he leaves her (because he's impotent) or she leaves him (because he's a bore) or he leaves her (because he's bisexual and wants to explore other avenues, so to speak) or she leaves him, and so on... Meanwhile Tony is beating Sarah about, and the one time that she rings Emily wanting to leave him and move in with her, Emily puts her off because for once she's in a good relationship and doesn't want her sister cramping her brief happiness. Which doesn't last anyway, of course.
Ultimately hardly anyone gets out of the book alive, and I'm not sure if there is a tiny chink of light at the end or if I just imagined it, desperate for relief. I kept reading partly because it's brilliantly written and partly out of morbid curiosity to see what Yates would do to his little laboratory mice next. And it's not only the things that happen to the characters that is cruel, but also Yates's obvious contempt for them.
So it's hard to know what the message is in The Easter Parade (perhaps Yates would have balked at the suggestion, as Douglas Adams did: "No message. If I'd wanted to write a message I'd have written a message. I wrote a book"): that life is hard and then you die? That whatever you throw at them, people will keep coming back for more? That, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, the majority of lives simply aren't worth living? The only thing it told me for sure is that yes, there is a book out there that makes Revolutionary Road look like Hi-de-Hi. (You know: the bit in chapter 4 where Frank Wheeler won the knobbly knees contest.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near perfection, 1 Sep 2010
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This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
The sheer brevity of this near perfect novel underlines the magical way in which Mr Yates, with miraculous economy, manages to encapsulate many lifetimes of the characters' experiences into the most humble of spaces. That encapsulation both enriches and heightens those experiences.
The book feels as if it has not come from an author's pen, but simply IS.
The best novel I have read in years and I feel so lucky to have discovered Richard Yates.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Would you like to come on in and meet the family.", 20 April 2010
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
The book opens with the words: "Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life." Perhaps unnecessarily since Yates is not a writer you'll come to for sweetness and light, but what you will find within these pages is a fascinating picture of the American equivalent of the lower-middle-classes at work, rest and play. Their mother is a wonderful example of eccentric gentility - hopeless with her children and careless with her husband, who insists on her children calling her Pookie. The book concentrates on the lives of Sarah and Emily. Sarah's involvement with Tony, who went to an English public school and still retains some of the linguistic mannerisms of his education, settles into what might be seen as a good marriage, three children and benevolent in-laws for Sarah, who cushion them from Tony's lack-lustre career. Emily's trajectory is somewhat more uncertain. She lives with Jack, an academic and failed poet, and their story looks promising until the misery of his failure to sustain early promise makes him irretrievably bitter. Pookie's end is nigh, too.

Wife-beating, abortion, soulless pick-ups on the party circuit - Sarah and Emily's lives take on something of a downward spiral. Sarah sinks into alcoholism; Emily's promising career in advertising ends in humiliating circumstances and she is forced onto Welfare and a solitary existence. There are moments of redemption, pleasure, satisfaction, but only fleeting ones for these American princesses.

Yates's writing is excessively plain, clean and unembellished, but he manages an understanding of the cadences and complications of these women's lives with great intelligence and insight. I cannot say I enjoyed this book, but I do admire this writer's skill enormously. The novel's melancholy trajectory seems to contribute the essence of what true-to-life writing aims to achieve, nevertheless, negativity is awfully tiring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as Revolutionary Road, 12 Jun 2009
By 
Bruce L (Venice, Italy) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
In "The Easter Parade" Yates once again reaches the formal perfection he had achieved in his first novel, "Revolutionary Road." Both these novels are masterpieces of intensity and economy of expression. Despite the emotionally devastating nature of the narrative material, in these two novels, Yates never loses control. They are as tightly constructed as sonnets.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Yates - The Easter Parade, 11 Feb 2009
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Easter Parade (Paperback)
If you read and loved Revolutionary Road (which, since the film, seems thankfully to be true for more people than previously), then the same will be true of this. Richard Yates writes normal, simple prose about normal, simple people. The simplicity of his prose concerning the sad, tragically unflashy lives of his character is beautiful and heart-rending, but strangely easy to bear. His writing is sublime. The way he writes about people's lives is something to be envious of. The lives of these two normal sisters, unfolded slowly, seem shockingly usual and yet tragically sad. It's a wonderful book, by a wonderful writer.
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The Easter Parade
The Easter Parade by Richard Yates
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