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The Amateur Marriage

A Novel
Narrated by: Blair Brown
Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage - and its consequences, spanning three generations.

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 20 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 30 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 '60s, 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 moment 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)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“An ode to the complexities of familial love, the centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep families together and send their members flying apart, the supremely ordinary pleasures and frustrations of middle-class American life.” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

"Tyler ranges over 60 years of American experience… from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the anniversary of that day in 2001…as she tracks one couple’s domestic disturbances…[Her] writing is beautifully accurate, more often than not with a glinting vein of humor.” (William H. Pritchard, New York Times Book Review, front cover)

“She evokes the entire sweep of [a marriage] with uncommon delicacy & dignity...gives us the feeling of being inside Michael and Pauline Anton’s marriage.” (John Freeman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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