I hated this book for the first three hours or so---very upsetting marital fighting! But once it takes off, this is quite a study of two people and their lives in the 50s. I finished this book a week ago and still thinking of April and Frank! I want to see the movie now and see how it compares.
I found this book to be one I did not want to stop listening to; it got me through several sessions at the gym. Although the story is a very depressing one, it held my interest. It is well written and I thought the reader did an excellent job. The characters were all believable, like people you may know. I highly recommend this book if you can deal with unhappy stories.
This novel is a masterpiece. The writing, the characters, the plot . . . everything. Is it heavy? Yes, it's very heavy. Is it depressing? Is tragedy depressing? Get ready for a good old fashioned catharsis! In parts it's funny and moving as well as serving as a stinging, unflinching criticism of American culture. The prose at points approaches poetry. The narrator is excellent. It takes place in the 50s but it hasn't lost anything in timeliness. The issues confronted are equally relevant today, perhaps more so. You won't be sorry if you give this a go.
Poor, poor Frank regrets telling his unhappy and pregnant wife those headline words. This book was written in the 50's, yet I can identify with it in the context of marriage today. I felt that oppressive and trapped feeling when I was pregnant with our third child. I didn't have an abortion, but I fantasied about it. My sister felt it too...this was in the 80's. My grandmother had abortions in the late 20's and so did her sisters. Of course they were illegal and very expensive, requiring some travel. It was talked about "back then" but not at parties or in church. Frank and April were trapped with fear of failure and boredom. Both were immature...a little. April goes full steam ahead on plans to a life in Paris where she will be the bread winner and Frank can find a vocation he enjoys. April's unexpected pregnancy and an accidental but impressive memo Frank writes at his job sets them on opposite paths. April sees a simple abortion performed before the 13th week will solve the problem. Frank gets the attention of an executive who wants to promote him to a job with more pay, responsibility and challenge. Frank sees this as his realistic chance to better living and perhaps vacations to Paris...he doesn't want to throw away this opportunity. April's mental health declines with the passing summer and seeing her dream vanish. Her cute suburban home is a prison and more children will add years to her sentence of a unfulfilled life. Their real-estate agent adds fuel to the fire by asking for invitations to bring her adult institutionalized son over for meals while he is out on weekend passes. He sees their departure to Paris as heroic. When Frank tells him later that summer the plan is canceled, this man turns vicious and blunt sparking a HUUGE fight between Frank and April. Things said that can't be taken back. April would rather die than face her version of hell. A quiet and desperate hell. Frank is left shattered and stuck in the past.
This was my first audible download. Oh, I loved it so. Mark Bramhall's narration is pitch perfect, and gives texture and shade to the novel and energy and life to the characters. The novel itself is utterly compelling in it's incisive and sometimes disturbing bisection of the melancholies and discontents of suburban life. Download it if you love Mad Men! But also if you're a fan of mid-centuty American fiction (one of my favourite novels is the far more forgiving Man in the Grey Flannel Suit).
This book was very difficult to listen to, both due to its dire characters and circumstances as well as a very slow plot encumbered by excessive amounts of background information throughout. For me, this was a literature "assignment" as opposed to a thought-provoking novel; I did not enjoy it and would not recommend it to anyone reading for interest or pleasure.
Although the plot is captivating and despite the fact the fine writing makes the book easily accessible - Revolutinary Road is not an "easy listen".
The book provides a painful "picture window" to the human soul trpped in it's search of normalcy and safety, while yearning for something different, and while alienating it's true needs and emotions.
From a literary point of view, this book is actually a modern, readable, American version of Decadence Movement literature, only less moralizing and much more reliable and touching.
It's not only thought provoking and highly relevant to the age of middle class to me it was and exciting read/listen.
Highly recommended along with "Things" (by Georges Perec), "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" (C.McCullers), Motion Picture: "Splendor in the Grass" and "American Pastoral" (by Philip Roth).
The phrase "a child of his/her time" is often used to excuse a person in history's behaviour and to deflect from looking deeper into their character and nature. In this book however, I think the concept of being of a certain time, and what this can mean in the different contexts of individual life stories, is brilliantly explored in the portrayal of two young people living a seemingly very typical North American life in the fifties.
Yates renders intricate, unforgivingly blunt portraits of Frank and April Wheeler as they try to navigate their lives around societal expectations and norms, repressed hopes and dreams and their own and each others deep personal flaws. As both people increasingly relinquish their individual ideals in order to reach the promised land (as they see it) of Europe, where both are sure that their lives will finally come into fruition, the desperation that lies at the heart of this novel becomes more and more apparent, until it culminates in a horrific ending - an outcome composed equally of the failings of a particular society at a particular time, and of the timeless, flawed and weak nature of humanity.
Mark Bramhall does a solid job narrating this audiobook. Without going over the top, he manages to give each character a distinct voice and conveys the subtlety of the characters' emotions and interactions very well.