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Publisher's Summary

Oprah’s Book Club 2018 Selection

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. 

Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. 

This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward - with hope and pain - into the future. 

©2018 Tayari Jones (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Narrators Eisa Davis and Sean Crisden skillfully portray Celestial and Roy.... In Part One, the narrators read the couple's letters so intimately that the listener may feel like an intruder.... As every wedding vow is tested, the narrators breathe intensity into Jones's riveting prose." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    5,266
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    944
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Performance

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    634
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved the Story, but...

Any additional comments?

The book started slow and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it and that would have been a pity because I have enjoyed all of Tayari Jones' work. Fortunately, the story picked up and I did enjoy it. My only big criticism is with the narration. The male narrator's depiction of Celestial or the other female characters didn't work for me. I found myself wondering how it would have worked if Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis narrated those passages together.

58 of 60 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Unredeemable characters

I found the story to be slow, monotonous and repetitious. I lost interest in the characters because they were hopelessly flawed to the point that I stopped caring about what happened to them. The best parts of the book were the beginning and the ending. The middle could have used a lot of editing.

108 of 113 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

So many “WTF” moments

Prepare to be underwhelmed. The only thing I truly enjoy about this book is that the characters are nuanced, neither all good nor all bad. There’s no one to really root for, it’s just a story about the complications of love and commitment.

Narration is good.

Ultimately, this story is OK. I just found myself throwing up my hands at so many points. It was like watching your trainwreck of a best friend repeat their relationship woes. It was like listening to the whiny excuses of ratchet individuals.

115 of 121 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

don't get the hype

I was not impressed with the overall story and especially character development. Too much of the story is untold, the protagonist hardly changes even with everything that changes in his life and the wife's actions are completely off from the "strong independent women" the author tries to paint her as. No spoilers but all she does is what the men in her life push her too, she let's others fight her battles and is so passive...yet the author keeps saying what a strong modern women she is. I couldn't get past that to enjoy the book.

46 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

All in One Day...

I listened to the entire book in one day...9 hours straight. I have never been captivated by a novel in my 40 years of life. I could see each word as they were narrated... especially Eisa's narration.
When the gentleman narrated the women's parts, it didn't feel as authentic, yet their performances were phenomenal. I want to thank my former school mate, Lashawnda, for recommending this read.

47 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

It was okay. Not what I expected.

The story was interesting but lack substance and depth. I kept thinking i missed something.

31 of 36 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Glad such a worthy author got the Oprah bump

I stumbled upon Jones' Silver Sparrow a few years ago and really liked it--more than this one, actually, though I did like this one. So often, really good authors (often authors of color) are totally overlooked, and you have to do a fair amount of hunting to find them amongst thousands upon thousands of books.

Jones managed to take really depressing and difficult subjects (the over incarceration of black men and wrongful conviction alongside the issues of marriage, children, fractured families, racism, and so on) and treat them in such a way that you get it--it's real--but you don't feel like opening a vein.

Roy was the most compelling and interesting character to me and the audio narrator bumped it up a notch. I wish there had been a different narrator for Celestial. While Davis was fine I was really craving Bahni Turpin, Angela Dawe, or Robin Miles, all of whom would have brought Celestial to life better.

Too often these days, authors write unlikable or really flawed narrators but write them in such a way that you can't relate, can't understand. In this novel, all three main characters are flawed (though nobody is downright unlikeable) yet you can still relate to each and understand why they are the way they are and do the things they do. That's no small feat to pull off.

I was rooting for all three main characters even though I couldn't imagine that it would turn out well for all of them!

30 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love Letters To Life and Beyond.

An American Marriage is much more then the title suggest. A beautiful layered story told in an exchange of Love Letters. The narration was outstanding and the concept made this book a page turner. Highly recommended!

47 of 56 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unexpected

Shocking, beautiful, Human. This story rips apart fairytales and challenges what we believe is “real” between two people who decide to be married. I will probably listen again soon.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

great read

I really wanted to give this book 5 stars but the ending disappointed me. I guess I wanted nor, expected more, I'm not really sure. it was a great read all in all never took a liking to the female character Celeste. the entire book she grated my nerves. I would still recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs A Obozuwa
  • 02-09-18

Fantastic Read!

An amazing tread of events with powerful emotions expressed on all levels. The Author’s description is very captivating. X

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • GIWI
  • 06-11-18

Touching

it is impossible not to love this book! Funny, sad, romantic and tragic. The vocal performances were exceptional!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Zara
  • 03-12-18

Narrators are incredible

The narrators really bring this story to life. This book stands out for the character perspectives of black Americans and their feelings towards a system rigged against them in America. Really eye opening and riveting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-28-18

Fantastic!

Didn’t want it to end. Loved this everything about this book, I will definitely be picking it up again in the future.
Love the narrators, they really brought the story to life.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Snowbound
  • 08-10-18

Great performances...

The plot is slightly inevitable, but absorbing nonetheless, and very well performed...my only complaint is with the actual alleged crime. I have often said my worst fear (beyond the more obvious) is being arrested for a crime I did not commit in a place where I could not clear my name... a very real fear for the many black men today in supposedly enlightened western societies. The story is not set clearly in time, (characters have cell phones so it must be pretty recent), but I can't help feeling that even in the US surely a man could not be charged with rape today without some corroborating DNA evidence? Roy is intelligent and articulate and had a good lawyer, he wasn't on drugs and had a good job- surely this shouldn't have happened? Or am I being naive?

And what happened to the victim? If Roy didn't do it who did? Did anyone? Her story added in might have been a interesting 'fourth angle' rather than the traditional 'love triangle' we see here. Especially if she were to learn that Roy is to be freed.

And 'Celestial' is a REALLY annoying character name, which stopped me from warming to her as I could have done, being black and female myself.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lin Becker
  • 06-12-18

Love and the Self Destroyed by Incarceration

This novel is devastatingly good. While I agree with some reviews that point out there is very little exploration of the criminal justice system, it doesn't matter. This novel is just so good in terms of how of a townie / city girl and a rural boy fall in love; and how they deal with the fallout of wrongful imprisonment comes back to their background. One can never really run from where one came from, one doesn't really change what one was born to. Prison reveals Roy's essential self. A propensity for violence is controlled and hidden away but then peaks in an unexpected, devastating way. Celestial has the privilege of never being sure of who she is and what she wants. Roy's imprisonment conveniently helps her to drift away and to continue to drift. The narrators are amazing and able to capture the heartbreak, rage and quiet torment faced. Also, I liked how Atlanta was lovingly described.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-07-18

This was so good

And that is as understated as any understatement can go. Thank you to everyone that made this happen.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Deb
  • 04-14-18

Excellent!

What made the experience of listening to An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club) the most enjoyable?

I loved the narrators voices - they were beautiful!

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed listening to this novel very much. The storyline was excellent and kept me hooked. But it was the narrators voices that stole the show for me. highly recomended.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sarah and Anil
  • 04-09-18

Altogether fantastic

Great story, narration is excellent . I really loved this and I’m definitely going to recommend it to my friends .

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-08-18

easy read

I enjoyed An American Marriage very much - listened at every opportunity and finished all too soon!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Melinda - YarnderWoman
  • 08-24-18

Powerful and wonderful

A beautifully written story of terrible injustice and what relationships mean. The writing is superlative and the narration extraordinary. Such a beautiful book that has been brought to life in such a fantastic way.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Luis G. Portillo
  • 08-01-18

Misleading title

I thought that a novel with a title l”An American Marriage” wold be more epic. Middle section drags, but the performances are great, I cared about Roy and Celestial because narrators made me care.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs S T Cottam-Warnock
  • 05-21-18

Stirs emotions

I wasn’t sure what to think about this story. I didn’t like the main character Roy but the feelings the author portrays are very raw. An excellent book. I couldn’t wait for the start and end of the working day to listen to it on the commute

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Maria Brooks
  • 05-09-18

Maria

Beautiful, well paced and deep. Excellent performances by the readers. More than an expose on marriage - it’s the American dream under the microscope

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-15-18

Favourite of the year

I’m looking forward to more from Tayari. This story is brilliant. Thank you for a very enjoyable and enlightening experience.