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
"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)
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
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.
Well I tried to like it. I even listened to it twice, no luck. She shouldn't narrate her books.
It just went on and on. Her voice drove me crazy,sorry,
I don't know; I haven't read the print version.
Loved the title essay; it parallels my experience.
Next book will be an Ann Patchett. Hope she'll narrate that one too.
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.
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.
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.
Hearing her experiences in her voice was compelling.
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.
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.
Say something about yourself! Author of Deadly Lust, Deadly Charm and Graceland Express.
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.
Ann Patchett is the central character of this book. I liked that she was so revealing about herself.
I liked the way her voice reveals her character.
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.
Not really. Didn't like Bel Canto. Maybe this author is just not for me.
no. she does not have a reading voice that one wants to hear for more than 30 seconds.
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.
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 listened to some of her fiction, and this compares quite favorably.
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.
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