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Revolutionary Road (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 7 Apr 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 175 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 009956064X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099560647
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 751,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Originally published in 1961 to great critical acclaim, Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road subsequently fell into obscurity in the UK, only to be rediscovered in a new edition published in 2001. Its rejuvenation is due in large part to its continuing emotional and moral resonance for an early 21st-century readership. April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled or happy in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paid but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. However, as their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfilment are thrown into jeopardy. Yates's incisive, moving and often very funny prose weaves a tale that is at once a fascinating period piece and a prescient anticipation of the way we live now. Many of the cultural motifs now seem quaintly dated--the early evening cocktails, Frank's illicit lunch breaks with his secretary, the way Frank isn't averse to knocking April around when she speaks out of turn all seem to belong to a different world--and yet the quiet desperation at thwarted dreams reverberates as much now as it did 40 years ago. Like F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the poverty at the soul of many wealthy Americans and the exacting cost of chasing the American Dream. --Jane Morris --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The literary discovery of the year... It's as brilliantly nuanced as Updike's Rabbit sequence, and as sad as anything by Fitzgerald" (Nick Hornby Guardian Books of the Year)

"Here is more than fine writing; here is what, added to fine writing, makes a book come immediately, intensely and brilliantly alive...a masterpiece" (Tennesse Williams)

"I hand out copies of Revolutionary Road to anyone who will take of the most moving and exact portraits of suburbia in all of American literature" (David Hare 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)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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How come I only just heard about this fantastic book? Set in 1950s suburban Connecticut, it tells the story of the less than idyllic relationship of Frank and April Wheeler. Although an onlooker may see them as an ideal couple in an ideal situation they both have layers and layers of dissatisfaction which come to the surface as their marriage crumbles.

The book was written in 1961 and seems to encapsulate all that we have come to associate with the previous decade. April appears willing to give up any pretence of a career to look after house and children while Frank goes each day to his "boring" office job (but he manages to find time for an affair with a secretary). Everyone drinks and smokes to excess - even in pregnancy. Frank's boss declares electronic computers to be the coming thing.....

Although both Frank and his neighbour Shep sometimes reflect on their time in the army during the war very little of the wider outside world creeps into the empty surburban world of Frank and April and their small circle of acquaintances. April comes up with a plan to move the family to France believing this will give Frank a fresh impetus to "find himself" but from the start you wonder if this will never happen.

Revolutionary Road is powerfully written and draws you into the lives of the Wheelers and their neighbours the Campbells and the Givings. It has some darkly comic moments and many flashes of brilliance. Yes, an American classic.

Did the creators of Mad Men (US TV series) get some of their inspiration from this book?
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An astoundingly well told tale of a couple trying to live happy lives in 50s America. Devastatingly accurate its portrayals of vanity, manhood and ambition as well as deceit, depression and the absurd faces we put on situations attributed to being part of 'normal life'. This is one of the best, most potent American books I've read and it's not hard to see why it was regarded as a classic from the moment it was published.
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I first came across this novel on my English Lit degree course, on a module on alienation and having read some of the other required reading, i had a 'feeling' i would enjoy this novel. Well... i was not disappointed. It really is one of the best novels i have ever read. I have read it twice now and know i will come back to it again in the future.

It is beautifully crafted, sometimes touching, dark, occasionally funny but incredibly sad. The final chapters are some of the best i have read.

Yates is a great but undervalued writer... more people should read this amazing book.
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By A Customer on 14 April 2002
Format: Paperback
A lyric and intensely moving evocation of the cracks behind the white picket fences of suburban America. Yates's writing is understated yet at times breathtaking, and his satire is never less than razor sharp. Above all, though, his characters really do come alive. In fact, Revolutionary Road could easily give The Great Gatsby a run for its money for greatest American novel of the twentieth century, and as a diehard Fitzgerald fan that is saying something. Please buy this book - it deserves to be so much more than a cult classic.
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Frank and April Wheeler have the perfect 1950s lifestyle - the nice house in suburbia, the two children; he with the daily commute to a good job in the city; she, a home-maker, beautiful and decorative - the middle-class, mid-20th century American Dream made real. But strip away the superficial and we find two people who have failed to be the people they expected to be, who are living every day with the disappointment of what they and each other has become. There is a desperation at the heart of this book - the desperation of rats caught in a laboratory maze.

Although Yates takes us into the minds of most of the characters at points, we mainly see the world through the eyes of Frank Wheeler. The book begins as April takes part in an amateur performance of The Petrified Forest - a play with the central theme of artistic and intellectual worth trapped in a loveless and humdrum existence, but where tragedy leads to escape. No coincidence that this should be the play that Yates chose, and no coincidence either that the performance should fail badly, leaving April publicly humiliated. Already in these early pages, Yates has signalled his major themes of intellectual elitism, entrapment and failure.

Frank once aspired to lead the life of an intellectual, perhaps to be a Hemingway, defying convention and rejecting the lifestyle of his parents. He was feted in his student days as one of the coming generation, a brilliant conversationalist who would (in some way that he never quite got around to pinning down) have an intellectual impact on the world. April - beautiful, cool, aloof - aspired to be a serious actress.
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Published in 1961, this tale of 1950s suburban despair focuses most squarely on its male protagonist, Frank Wheeler, but it's much more his wife, April's, story. Pregnancy trapped her in the life expected for her, while he looked for (and apparently found) an un-taxing job in a corporation too large and inefficient to see how little he does.
Yet with suburban liberals having grimly hushed conversations on the state of US politics over almost subversive cuttings from the Manchester Guardian and the Observer (I thought US reading of the Guardian was internet trend) and obsession with new technology (Frank sells 'counting machines' and, maybe soon, $2m computers) it's easy to forget that this is the 1950s. Nevertheless, while April's desire for abortion and to go out and work is less shocking to contemporary ears, it still reads as fantasy.
Unhappiness fuels great disdain for all of suburbia and its inhabitants. Rather than pretend to be happy and get on, April dreams of immigrating to Paris, where she images a life of freedom; a life where she'll be the breadwinner and he'll 'find himself'. And Frank allows her to believe they have what it takes... for a time.
Ultimately, Revolutionary Road's not just a tale of despair and isolation, written at a time when the idea of feeling alone in a city of millions was a foreign concept. Or of a woman fighting society's expectations, written pre-feminism. It's a story of conformity and how easily those who fail to conform are labelled 'insane'.
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