- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 Jun. 1975)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140029443
- ISBN-13: 978-0140029444
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,787,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Couples Paperback – 26 Jun 1975
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"I can think of no other novel, even in these years of our sexual freedom, as sexually explicit in its language...as direct in its sexual reporting, as abundant in its sexual activities." -- The Atlantic Monthly
"Trapped in their cozy catacombs, the couples have made sex by turns their toy, their glue, their trauma, their therapy, their hope, their frustration, their revenge, their narcotics, their main line of communication and their sole and pitiable shield against the awareness of death. Adultery, says Updike, has become a kind of 'imaginative quest' for successful hedonism that would enable man to enjoy an otherwise meaningless life....The couples of Tarbox live in a place and time that together seem to have been ordained for this quest." -- Time
""Couples" [is] John Updike's tour de force of extramarital wanderlust.""--The New York Times Book Review"
"Trapped in their cozy catacombs, the couples have made sex by turns their toy, their glue, their trauma, their therapy, their hope, their frustration, their revenge, their narcotic, their main line of communication and their sole and pitiable shield against the awareness of death."--"Time"
"Ingenious . . . If this is a dirty book, I don't see how sex can be written about at all."--Wilfrid Sheed, "The New York Times Book Review"
"Couples" [is] John Updike s tour de force of extramarital wanderlust. " The New York Times Book Review"
Trapped in their cozy catacombs, the couples have made sex by turns their toy, their glue, their trauma, their therapy, their hope, their frustration, their revenge, their narcotic, their main line of communication and their sole and pitiable shield against the awareness of death. "Time"
Ingenious . . . If this is a dirty book, I don t see how sex can be written about at all. Wilfrid Sheed, "The New York Times Book Review""
Couples [is] John Updike s tour de force of extramarital wanderlust. The New York Times Book Review
Trapped in their cozy catacombs, the couples have made sex by turns their toy, their glue, their trauma, their therapy, their hope, their frustration, their revenge, their narcotic, their main line of communication and their sole and pitiable shield against the awareness of death. Time
Ingenious . . . If this is a dirty book, I don t see how sex can be written about at all. Wilfrid Sheed, The New York Times Book Review" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Couples is the book that has been assailed for its complete frankness and praised as an artful, seductive, savagely graphic portrait of love, marriage, and adultery in America. But be it damned or hailed, Couples drew back the curtain forever on sex in suburbia in the late twentieth century. A classic, it is one of those books that will be read -- and remembered -- for a long time to come. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
'Welcome to the post-pill paradise....'
These intentionally ironical words occur many times in Couples and give a clue to the central theme of the book. How do these young, mostly highly educated and well-to-do thirty something couples, deal with the opportunities that a new world of risk-free contraception and a more open attitude to sex offer for the first time, here in 1960's America. They have wealth, time, opportunity and the desire to experiment. Do they, the novel asks, find themselves in paradise or a kind of hell in which all previous moral absolutes have gone ?
The 8 or 9 couples live close-knit lives, sharing holidays, parties, school runs and frequently, sexual partners. Their master of ceremonies, the odious dentist Freddie, encourages this sexual freedom in which he takes virtually no part. Piet Hanema, the central male character, is an inveterate womaniser and interestingly, the only non-academic in the group, he is a carpenter. He also remains friends with all his previous partners as he is attractive and undemanding. His transgressive relationship with the heavily pregnant Foxy Whitworth causes deep rifts and disquiet in the group. Hedonistic freedom comes, Updike makes it clear, with a heavy price and Piet and Foxy pay.
The writing is wonderful. Updike at his clear, passionate and insightful best leads us deep into the lives of his characters through his way of writing from the inside out. We feel, see and experience life as lived by those characters in that time and place.Read more ›
Came as advertised.
Good deal and service.
The (far too many) utterly unpleasant, shallow characters, are almost all young, healthy, rich (or thereabouts), happily married people with good-to-excellent lives and a litter of beautiful, healthy children to boot. Yet, they're all so restless and unsatisfied with their lot, that they incessantly copulate with everybody else's spouse, like randy mice in a Viagra test lab. The big question, for me, was: Why? Then, with only one exception, all of these characters are at it, so my next big questions was: Really, absolutely everybody behaves in the same way? Updike suggests no answers, so we might as well say it was something in the water. This would be fine; perfect, in fact, since I want a book to make me think, not feed me pre-digested ideas. But the novel fails spectacularly where no self-respecting novel should: in giving believable, cogent explanations as to what might motivate these people to suddenly and dramatically change their behaviours.
The "welcome to the post-pill paradise" mantra Updike keeps repeating is just not good enough an explanation.Read more ›
To the novel itself, and I have read a lot of the other reviews on this and other websites, many of which make very good points.
Yes, there is a collision at times between the flowing action/dialogue on one hand and the long passages of descriptive narrative about the construction of a building, or the interior of someone's house, etc. on the other. The effect of these occasional 'interruptions' to the story can be jarring to the reader, but there is no doubting Updike's marvellous gift for language. His idiosyncratic syntax meant at times that I had to re-read a sentence to understand it properly, which slowed down the reading experience, but I think at the end it was worth taking the time to ensure that I had gathered in all he had to say.
Some reviewers have commented upon the abundance of characters, and indeed with around 20 players all vying for the reader's attention, it did get a little crowded at times. What I found most remarkable about the characters, though, is how few of them the reader was actually invited to like! The central male lead, Piet Hanema, is a cowardly, shallow womaniser, and although we are allowed to sympathise with how he was orphaned and how this may have affected him, we are most of the time left wondering what on earth all these women actually see in him!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Not my cup of tea I;m afraid.Pity really the rabbit trilogy was fabPublished 19 months ago by S. C. W. Andrews
Enjoyable, though seemed a little dated. Updike's immaculate prose fills me with admiration, although some of vocabulary is obscure.Published on 11 Oct. 2014 by Chris Luck
Typical Updike observations. An acquired taste but I love his work.Published on 15 Sept. 2014 by Bibliophile
I did not manage to read much of this book as I found the storyline too difficult to follow. I have now deleted it.Published on 29 July 2014 by pamela slackman
The early nineteen sixties beckoned on a decade of change. Not only did the world shake off most of the remnants of its most recent global war, not only did Europe's defeated... Read morePublished on 6 Feb. 2013 by Philip Spires