Revolutionary Road Paperback – 13 Dec 2007
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"I hand out copies of Revolutionary Road to anyone who will take them...one 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
Revolutionary Road is an American classic and has been made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, released in 2009.See all Product description
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From the title, I had the wrong idea about this book. Maybe the title was supposed to be ironic, but the early part of the book, about the failure, on its first night, of a local dramatic group, was unexpected.
As I read through the angry exchanges and sulks of the two main protagonists, I was reminded of watching the film ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, when I sat thinking, ‘Why am I listening to a slanging match between a warring married couple?’ And yet, I did get drawn in, and wanted to know how the couple in question - April and Frank Wheeler - would resolve their problems.
Other characters were the snobbish landlady, Mrs Givings, her deaf husband and her possibly autistic son, who had no inhibitions about saying what he thought, to everyone else’s embarrassment.
Also there were the family friends, Shep and Millie Campbell, who were helpful, but not quite intellectual enough for the main characters, who each felt that they were a cut above these friends - and therein lay their problems. Bogged down respectively, in domesticity and an unchallenging job - each was trapped in a life that they somehow thought they didn’t deserve and hadn’t anticipated.
Initially, I was on the side of the husband, who I saw as a Jack Lemmon type of man (when he’s a lowly clerk, in The Apartment.) He seems to adore his wife, who initially, seems a bit of a harridan. But in the latter part of the book, I see his transition to a manipulative bully, imposing his will upon her. His greater confidence was purely as a result of a possible promotion at work. If he had been in that position when he first met her, that is, being successful in his work, perhaps she would have disliked his arrogance and never married him. Instead of that, they were two dysfunctional unconfident people who found something in each other.
Withut revealing the climax, I would have liked to know, following her meticulous planning, did she mean to cause what eventually happened?
It was not a book that left you with good feelings at the end, and probably I would not read it a second time. But the dialogue between the characters, their awful truths, finally let out, and their internal thoughts that we had access to were very, very well done. I think 4 stars, or 7 or 8 out of 10 for sheer readability, though perhaps not empathy.
I would like to say I learnt a lot on how to avoid similar problems from it, but other than trying to be more honest in inter personal relationships I`m not sure I did
The writing is brilliant, the observation of life and personality superb.
A lot of the issues are still relevant today and show that society moved on enormously in the first half of C20 but little since.
For once I agree with the label - it is a vintage classic, just don`t read it to cheer yourself up!
If you are thinking about just seeing the film - read the book first.
Both are worth it but in slightly different ways.
I picked up this book having seen the film and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The film was a good adaptation and I was impressed that the book extended the enjoyment of the story.
I found it an interesting technique that, at several points, Frank is having a conversation and you can see his thoughts about how he will relate the conversation to April afterward (mixed in with the actual conversation going on). The relating of what characters are doing along with what they are thinking is repeated many times and seems to work well.
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