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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage | [Ann Patchett]

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto examines her deepest commitments: to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Together, these essays, previously published in The Atlantic, Harper, Vogue, and The Washington Post, form a resonant portrait of a life lived with loyalty and with love.
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Publisher's Summary

Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto examines her deepest commitments: to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Together, these essays, previously published in The Atlantic, Harper, Vogue, and The Washington Post, form a resonant portrait of a life lived with loyalty and with love.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett's life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.

As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.

©2013 Ann Patchett (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

What the Critics Say

"Readable and candid, Patchett’s collection is a joyful celebration of life, love and the written word." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Reading Patchett is like spending time with a deeply perceptive longtime pal, or a new friend that one instantly connects with." (USA Today)

"[A] sparkling collection." (The New Yorker)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (179 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 01-07-14
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 01-07-14 Member Since 2009

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining, engrossing, and elucidative essays"

    This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is everything other reviewers have said, and more. It’s a wonderfully-written and varied collection of Ann Patchett’s essays, ranging from musings about how she considered joining the Los Angeles Police Dept. in order to write about it and how she is influenced by her father, a retired LAPD police captain, to her feelings about her dog Rose and Sister Nena, the nun that taught her to read and write, to the eloquent and moving account of caring for her grandmother during her progression into dementia.

    I’ve read and enjoyed (with reservations) several of Patchett’s novels. Bel Canto was great but I hated the ending, and I liked State of Wonder, except for some of the more ludicrous plot points. I personally found this collection of essays much more engrossing than any of her novels that I’ve read. She can write about almost anything, revealing thoughts, emotions, and advice without becoming preachy and overbearing.

    I was completely unaware of Lucy Grealy, Patchett’s long-term friendship with her, and the controversies arising from their relationship. I’m very tempted to read Patchett’s Truth and Beauty to delve into this further, and may do that after I’ve had some time to digest the essay from Grealy’s sister in The Guardian. I’m hoping that Patchett will further show, as she did in this collection, that there are often quite a few ways of viewing a situation, and one absolute truth does not always exist.

    I do have to thank Ann Patchett for leading me to an epiphany. In “Love Sustained”, she writes about the long and painful decline of her grandmother Eva:

    “My grandmother had spent her life taking care of other people, cooking their food, cleaning their houses. It was her proof that she was valuable in the world. Now I cleaned my grandmother's apartment, which hurt her every single time. My cleaning was an accusation, no matter how quietly I went about it.”

    When I read “It was her proof that she was valuable in the world.”, I gained a much better understanding of my dear mother-in-law. She raised five children with lots of hard work and no time to herself. Now that she has too much time to herself, she is missing that visible proof that she is valuable in the world. I could see her so clearly in that one simple sentence. I’m grateful for this entertaining and elucidative collection of essays that was a pleasure to read, and even more so when read by the author in the audio version.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    nadine CAMINO, CALIFORNIA, United States 04-25-14
    nadine CAMINO, CALIFORNIA, United States 04-25-14 Member Since 2013

    Clever

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    "Just go with it or not !"
    What did you love best about This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage?

    Well I tried to like it. I even listened to it twice, no luck. She shouldn't narrate her books.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It just went on and on. Her voice drove me crazy,sorry,


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Provo, UT, United States 09-13-14
    Victoria Provo, UT, United States 09-13-14 Member Since 2008

    RangerGirl

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    "for Ann Pratchett's fans"

    I was expecting a book on Ann's writing life, but got a collection of her essays, published during her life in a number of magazines. While the writing is good, and stories are sometimes good, too, it is quite repetative. I did love the essay about her dog and grandma's passing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 08-30-14
    Barbara Albany, NY, United States 08-30-14 Member Since 2005

    Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.

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    "Staying True to Yourself; Essays"

    In these collected essays, Ann Patchett writes about people and events that have informed her writing. I found them relate-able and thoroughly enjoyable. Was sorry when the book ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Boston, MA 08-22-14
    Chris Boston, MA 08-22-14 Member Since 2013
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    "I've never read any Ann Patchett books"
    If you could sum up This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage in three words, what would they be?

    Interesting essays.


    What does Ann Patchett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hearing her experiences in her voice was compelling.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    I wouldn't.


    Any additional comments?

    I bought this as David Sedaris highly recommended it. I wasn't disappointed. Without knowing this woman's work, I enjoyed these essays, 4 in particular. The first one bored me, I like to read, no interest in being a writer so I thought oh no...but from there I was rivited...this years vacation read or "listen" as it were. Recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ceenut California 04-17-14
    Ceenut California 04-17-14 Member Since 2013
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    "An Enjoyable Listen"
    Any additional comments?

    The narration by the author is great, and I felt myself drawn in and engaged by her experiences. If you ever thought about becoming a writer, this book is inspiring and also provides some good tips.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie United States 03-31-14
    Marie United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2011

    Say something about yourself! Author of Deadly Lust, Deadly Charm and Graceland Express.

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    "About a Lot More than Marriage"
    What did you love best about This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage?

    To me, as a writer, this proved to be one of the most valuable books I've ever come across. While Ann Patchett's marriage to her husband plays a significant part in her story, it's actually an account of her lifelong commitment to writing. The detours and missteps she's taken along the way to a career in that field are in many ways analogous to the errors a married couple inevitably makes and her ultimate success as a novelist reminds one of the aging couple who have learned to tolerate either other's idiosyncrasies but aren't so entirely comfortable that they no longer have to work at it. A must read for any writer or would-be writer. In addition, readers who have enjoyed Ann Patchett's novels will find this book provides much insight into the author's personality and the process by which she comes to her fiction.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ann Patchett is the central character of this book. I liked that she was so revealing about herself.


    What does Ann Patchett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I liked the way her voice reveals her character.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CGJ Seattle, WA United States 03-20-14
    CGJ Seattle, WA United States 03-20-14 Member Since 2009
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    "The Story of an unhappy life"
    What did you like best about This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage? What did you like least?

    Liked Rose the dog best. Author's narration was the worst. She sounded miffed, angry, just plain pissed off at so many things, people, places...the whole world.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Ann Patchett? Why or why not?

    Not really. Didn't like Bel Canto. Maybe this author is just not for me.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Ann Patchett’s performances?

    no. she does not have a reading voice that one wants to hear for more than 30 seconds.


    Do you think This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    Oh NO!


    Any additional comments?

    Many of us have been waitresses. Perhaps less bitter because we weren't frustrated poets and didn't go to Iowa to study graduate writing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Coral Gables, FL, United States 02-07-14
    Marie Coral Gables, FL, United States 02-07-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Wonderful, Author-narrated stories"
    What did you love best about This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage?

    So many well-told tales! Non-fiction, collected writings from the many publications which supported the author as she nurtured her fiction writing career. What treat to hear so many rich experiences. Loved the tale of her Parnassus (independent) Book Store in Nashville!


    Have you listened to any of Ann Patchett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Have listened to some of her fiction, and this compares quite favorably.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    To write an account of the process of becoming an officer in the LAPD, Ann worked through the steps to qualify to enroll in the Los Angeles Police Academy. Her father, a retired LAPD officer, gave her a home-base and encouragement during the rigorous days of testing of her moral character, and her intellectual and physical abilities.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-31-14
    01-31-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Wonderful and authentic reading"
    What made the experience of listening to This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage the most enjoyable?

    Feeling Of true conecfion between the author and narator !!!!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage?

    Specialy about her mariage Experience .Also all about Rose.


    What does Ann Patchett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    When we read a book we hear our own voice(at least IDo)Listening to Ann's voice gives an additional layer and sense!


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    This book is a collection of eseys.It is in a sense many layers photograph. what tags from layer to layer is a person. In each layer we know more about it and relate to it diferently, maybe more deeply?


    Any additional comments?

    I heard of Ann Patchett listening to a podcast of Binah(San Francisco Jewish Comunity Center) and listening to a Bob something interviewe. I want to listen to all she has written. And will in the future.I like simplicity and a flow of her words and this atitude of putting it down, writing and forgetting about it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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