Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Revolutionary Road

There's a bit of a revival going on in the land of books and it concerns American authors writing in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I have already written a post on a book by one of them: James Salter (born 1925) and this one is about a book by an equally intriguing writer, Richard Yates (1926-1992). 

The novel Revolutionary Road focuses on Frank and April, a young married couple who both have hopes and aspirations beyond the lives they lead. Frank works, April is at home with the children, and both are dissatisfied. They have moved away from the city in order to raise their children in the suburbs, which has resulted in boredom for both. At times they feel more sophisticated than other people in their neighbourhood and even consider moving to Europe (we see this in Salter's work too - both writers were clearly inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald). Although they constantly seek a way to make the marriage work, trying to meet one another in the middle so to speak, they find themselves at a dead end. Needless to say, the novel ends tragically.

What makes this book so compelling, is that it is all so recognisable: the moments of boredom, of wishing it were all different, of doubting whether you've made the right decisions in life. And at the other end of the scale the feelings of love and connectedness, and the sense that you and your spouse really do belong together and everything in life is finally falling into place. In short: the complexity of a relationship in all its facets. The way in which Yates succeeds in allowing us to enter the mind and thoughts of his characters is truly exceptional. A friend of mine who read the book remarked: "It's like that guy (Yates) knows me, he knows what I think and feel, that book is about me." 

Other books by Yates with lovely vintage edition covers

Don't forget to check out The Year In Books...


  1. This looks really good. Another one to go on the list, I think :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, much appreciated! Yates comes highly recommended, particularly if you like novels about relationships/marriages.


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