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The Amateur Marriage: A Novel | [Anne Tyler]

The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2004 Anne Tyler; (P)2004 Random House, Inc., Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"[Anne] Tyler's strength resides in her penetrating psychological portraits and delight in mundane details, and these gifts are evident....Her observations about how abruptly even the most boring life can go wrong, and about the fact that we are all amateurs in our first marriages, are poignant." (Booklist)
"Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class' Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn't share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (116 )
5 star
 (24)
4 star
 (43)
3 star
 (33)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (6)
Overall
3.6 (23 )
5 star
 (4)
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
3.8 (23 )
5 star
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Joanne Jacksonville, FM, USA 02-19-04
    Joanne Jacksonville, FM, USA 02-19-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. The subtle nuances that make Anne Tylers' writing were all the more enjoyable by the reading by Blair Brown. This was not the typical Anne Tyler book about a person's awakening but how typical, flawed people react to life's trials. I got a lot out of the book and of the reading itself. It brought the book to life for me. I could relate to the characters, not being a mirror of me or my life but a compliation of myself and other people that I know.

    Thank you Anne Tyler, thank you Blair Brown and thank you Audible from bringing this book to many "readers" who may not read this book otherwise. I recommend it to those flawed confused people who feel a bit overwhelmed by life's experiences.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina Medina, OH, USA 06-10-04
    Christina Medina, OH, USA 06-10-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    15
    15
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    "Engaging and thought provoking"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I do all of Tyler's books. She has a way of capturing exactly what you are feeling, and of embracing life with all its imperfections. I am surprised that others found the story uninteresting. I was completely caught up in it, to the point that I turned it on in my car even if I was going a short distance. It is true that one of the main characters is almost unbearably depressing toward the end, but I like books that do not shy away from difficult subjects, and I thought the ending nicely redeemed this thread. Not for those who want a happy story, but great for those who want writing that beautifully articulates the human condition.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JustMe 08-21-13
    JustMe 08-21-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incredibly Boring"
    Would you try another book from Anne Tyler and/or Blair Brown?

    No.


    Has The Amateur Marriage turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, just from this author.


    Which character – as performed by Blair Brown – was your favorite?

    Lindy...mostly because I didn't have to put up with her as long.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Amateur Marriage?

    Most of them.


    Any additional comments?

    I found it interesting to read the other reviews. Hard to believe in many cases we were reading the same book! Maybe if you were already an Anne Tyler fan you cut her some slack. While I cant argue that it was likely a really accurate family portrayal, when I read I want to escape real life. On the plus side, their life was SOOOOO boring it made mine seem exciting by comparison!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eileen Montclair, NJ, USA 06-20-10
    Eileen Montclair, NJ, USA 06-20-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Technicalities got in the way"

    I really disliked the narrator's voice in this recording, and it seriously affected my view of the book. Despite the fact that I found the voice grating, I listened to the end, because the story was engrossing and gave a glimpse of life at a time that I remembered from my youth. While the main character wasn't someone I could relate to, I enjoyed following her progression through life, and found myself wanting to know more about her later life. She wasn't as interesting early on and was often trite and lacked depth. On a final, and maybe trivial, note: I strongly disliked the moody musical accompaniment to the concluding sentences of the story -- way too intrusive for me, made me feel manipulated, like I'd watched a Hallmark movie. I'd prefer just the writer's words, and nothing but the words.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 05-16-10
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 05-16-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Overall
    "Entertaining But Lacking"

    This book is more a reflection of how easy it is to give up on a marriage today than anything else. Just walk away. The wife is someone I would want to walk away from, but that is not the point. The husband is no winner and the kids must manage the parents lives at some points.

    Aside from the skipping around, giving no explanations or depths for significant events (the daughter running away, the wife dying), this book totally frustrated me!!

    The narration was excellent. I just wish the story was as good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leese-Calver Glendale, CA, United States 08-13-04
    Leese-Calver Glendale, CA, United States 08-13-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!!!!!"

    Sometimes I am just dumbfounded as to who claims to be a writer. The writer goes into great detail describing what she bought at the grocery store or what is included in a meatloaf...but says in passing that the main character died in an accident towards the end of the book...without any elaboration or warning. She constantly skips 10-15 years without mentioning how much time has passed. It's 10 minutes into the dialogue before you discover that the 9 year old she just talked about, is now 18 and in college. "Ten years later" would have been a helpful 3 words she could have used about 10 times in the book. The things she chose to talk about were so boring I would rather watch paint dry. BOO! BOO!

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
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