Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Favorite Reads: The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past. August is Audio Book Appreciation Month, and although I normally don't like abridgements, I did really enjoy The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler.

Summary (from the publisher):
From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage—and its consequences, spanning three generations.

They seemed like the perfect couple—young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.

Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable.

From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counterculture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayered apparel of later years, Anne Tyler captures the evocative nuances of everyday life during these decades with such telling precision that every page brings smiles of recognition. Throughout, as each of the competing voices bears witness, we are drawn ever more fully into the complex entanglements of family life in this wise, embracing, and deeply perceptive novel.

Why I chose this book:
I liked seeing the different generations, and how the sins of the parents are visited upon the children. As with all Anne Tyler novels, this is a rich story of family. You sympathize with all the characters while still seeing their glaring flaws. Honest and real, Michael and Pauline could be the neighbors down the street.

Publishers, why oh why do you make abridged audiobooks? Never do them without the unabridged option. I hate abridged, only listen to them when they're the only option, and then wonder and worry about what I missed out on. Anything that's worth printing is worth including in the audio.


Alyce said...

I haven't read an Anne Tyler book before, but her name is very familiar to me (like I've seen her books many times in the library and stores). She's one of those authors I really should give a try some day.

Too bad about the abridged copy! It drives me crazy when that happens, especially if I think I'm picking up an unabridged and don't figure it out till later.

Booksnyc said...

I really dislike abridgements too. I read this book in print for a book club years ago and really liked it. I just listened to Digging to America on audio - I enjoy Tyler on audio and will try some of her other books in that format.

Anonymous said...

I love Anne Tyler! I'll have to look for this one. I agree, she has a great knack for getting into her characters minds and lives. Thanks for the recommendation.