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The Amateur Marriage

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  11,876 Ratings  ·  998 Reviews
Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage is not so much a novel as a really long argument. Michael is a good boy from a Polish neighborhood in Baltimore; Pauline is a harum-scarum, bright-cheeked girl who blows into Michael's family's grocery store at the outset of World War II. She appears with a bloodied brow, supported by a gaggle of girlfriends. Michael patches her up, and ne ...more
Published (first published 2004)
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Feb 28, 2016 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book very carefully. It's a great fit for the cerebral part of my brain...
having anything to do with complex relationships and family dymamics.

I literally can pick this book apart - piece by piece to analyze.....a perfect group-discussion-choice.

Several Goodreads members, and I, picked this book for a group discussion.
For those interested to join in - (if you've read the book) -
Here is how to find the discussion group:
...go to groups
...join the 'public' group "The Reading For Pleas
Aug 23, 2008 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anne Tyler would laugh, I'm sure, if she read these different reactions to this book. For isn't this her point in so many of her novels? How different we all are and how easily we misunderstand each other? How one person can hate what another loves so passionately? How easy it is to miss the point, get the wrong end of the stick, fail to see what's under your very nose?

The genius of Tyler is in her understated approach to the great themes of life. Behind the seemingly trivial details of the ever
4 stars

"They were such a perfect couple. They were taking their very first steps on the amazing journey of marriage, and wonderful adventures were about to unfold in front of them."

Wow, don't most marriages start out with this assumption!! I had to laugh to myself when I stumbled across this quote in my notes after having finished my journey with this book. And what a wild ride that was! I am honestly quite drained after reading this. I can't recall another book compelling me to scrutinize my ow
Glenn Sumi
Sep 02, 2015 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I am fascinated by how families work, endurance, how do we get through life?”
- Anne Tyler, from an interview in The Guardian

Two mismatched people – impulsive, gregarious, Wasp Pauline and methodical, quiet Polish Catholic Michael – get married, continually fight, move from one Baltimore neighbourhood to another, raise three children, experience loss and then… well, I don't want to spoil the plot, such as it is.

You don’t read Anne Tyler for big drama; you go to her for her vivid characters and
Andrew Smith
Pauline and Michael meet just as America is gathering troops to help fight the Second World War. It’s Baltimore in the 40’s, and we are about to observe this seemingly mismatched couple (Michael quiet and ‘straight’, Pauline vivacious and wild) act out the rest of their lives.

I read this book as part of a group read, so I’ll not delve too deeply into what happens. But I will record a few thoughts on the experience of spending a week in the company of this duo. And let’s modify that statement for
Jan Rice
A lot of people who reviewed this book thought that it was about a marriage in which the partners were incompatible. They were too different. He was ethnic inner city, she was of WASP heritage. Their personalities were too different. They were both stuck in adolescence, hence the amateur quality of their marriage. But for me it was Every-marriage. Of course they were of different backgrounds, with World War II acting like a giant cultural mixer. Of course they were different--opposites attract. ...more
Sep 10, 2007 Cari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women who've been married for 7+ years
I read this book a few years ago - but it has stuck with me. The book is a portrait of a marriage between two incredibly different people. The woman is very emotional, with a flair for the dramatic. The man is very non-emotional. It paints a picture of so many marriages I have seen.

I think there comes a point in marriage where a woman realizes that she married a GUY. Sounds weird to say - but there was a part of me that imagined my husband would enjoy shopping and fashion and cry at the opera,
Oct 05, 2008 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lives In Time

For me, The Amateur Marriage represents the sixth time I have read one of Anne Tyler’s novels. On the surface it’s the story of Michael and Pauline. They meet by chance in 1941 in Anton’s, the grocery store run by Michael’s family. 1941, perhaps incidentally, is the year Anne Tyler was born.

There was a war to be fought, of course, a war that affected both of their lives. But there’s a marriage, and a child, a daughter named Lindy. Others follow, a boy and another girl. For Michael a
Sep 25, 2009 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe this book is getting such high ratings.

I listened to it in audiobook format on a road trip to the Oregon Coast in 2005. It disgusted me.

Pauline is a selfish, mean spirited, horrible human being who treats everyone like dirt. Michael is a spineless whiner who rather be lazy and play the victim than take control of his life. The book consists of watching their unhealthy, selfish, pathetic relationship from beginning to end. Neither of them is likable. I don't think there is a sing
Sara Steger
Anne Tyler is one of a hand-full of writers who can write about the same location and the same kind of characters and never feel cliched or irrelevant. All her characters are so whole and authentic that as I read I keep thinking, "I know this person" or "OMG, that is me".

That is Tyler, in general, now for this novel specifically. Pauline and Michael (the members of the aforesaid amateur marriage) are two very flawed opposites, entangled in a death-grip and unable to communicate on any meaningfu
aPriL does feral sometimes
Mom and dad are fighting, again - and again - and again - and again - and again...

Pauline is a high-maintenance disorganized impulsive extrovert drama queen and Michael is an highly organized, methodical slow-witted judgmental introvert who enjoys lists of groceries and looking at construction tools. They did not know this when they decided to get married. All Michael knew about Pauline was that he had never seen such a beautiful girl in his life, and she liked the color red. All Pauline knew ab
May 06, 2011 Elaine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
it passeth all understanding that the gifted, compelling author of such innovative engrossing novels as Celestial Navigation and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant could have put forth for publication this awkward, disjointed, banal badly written mess. what also passeth understanding is that it got published even if it was written by Anne Tyler. Apparently, no matter how bad a book is, if its author has a name, even respectable publishers will print and promote it.

There is zero character developm
Oct 02, 2008 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Goodreads
Shelves: would-read-again
This book was phenomenal. It broke my heart and at the same time, evoked warm and familial feelings toward the characters.

The book takes you through the years of a marriage/failed marriage starting in 1941 and ending in 2001. Each chapter jumps forward to a new point in time for the family. That alone makes it intriguing--following the family and seeing how they change through the years.

The characters are absolutely believable. Maybe it's because I came from a dysfunctional family or perhaps I'm
Mar 11, 2016 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
I liked the writing more than I liked the book itself. This isn't my typical read, but I was intrigued by the book's description. It focuses on three generations of a family and the impacts of a marriage on all of them.

My biggest struggle was that the main characters, Michael and Pauline, were very hard to like and frustrated me beyond belief. I appreciated that Tyler did an excellent job in writing such flawed characters, but it was very challenging for me to read. Their life choices and its r
Mar 30, 2016 Melora rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was sad. And not in the way Aristotle means when he talks about how sad (okay, tragic) drama can be a cleansing experience for its audience, leaving them refreshed and ready to move on with a spring in their stride. Well, no catharsis to be had in this book, from which I emerged feeling depressed and grubby. The Amateur Marriage is sad in the, “Wait a minute! That's it? I just wasted hours of my life with a bunch of boring, miserable people, and there was never any payoff of revelation or ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Jenni rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by a Christian woman who said that it taught her a lot about her own marriage. Perhaps it's not my place to judge, but I walked away from this book thinking that its message was one of anti-marriage or at least one of not getting married too young. Well, I myself was a very young bride--22 and I'll be the first to tell you marriage is work, very hard work and this book was kind of a slap in the face in a way. I HATED the characters and the fact that they were so i ...more
Jun 21, 2008 Evie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Evie by: Everyone
AFter I read The Accidental Tourist, I went back on Amazon and bought this and Back When We Were Grownups.

I love how Tyler masks tension the characters are experiencing internally and in their relationships with descriptions of the banal. You just know someone is going to blow a gasket at any moment, but she makes the characters and the reader simmer in it, turning up the heat slowly with the passing years, seemingly meaningless squabbles, and resignation.

Pauline and Michael are just wrong for
Jun 06, 2014 Cristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What I take from this book from a craft perspective is a lesson in writing sparingly. While the story spans nearly a lifetime, as Tyler looks at the marriage of two people, each life chapter is chosen, as if they were stories in and of themselves, stories that connect to create a bigger picture. In other words, she doesn't explain everything. We get glimpses, almost flashes, like we are looking at slides in a projector, of the chapters in the life and death of this marriage.
When I first began re
Jan 14, 2008 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
First of all, I simply loved this book for telling a great story without using bad language or gratuitous sex scenes. I knew it could be done! Second, Anne Tyler is a great writer. She's economic in her language, but paints vivid scenes and really makes her characters feel real. Speaking of characters, this book was a fascinating look at how two otherwise good people can really bring out the worst in each other. The POV changed with each chapter, and I LOVED getting to see different sides of the ...more
Nov 22, 2008 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Since this was written after her husband died, I thought perhaps it may have been partly autobiographical. (Well, maybe all books are.) I enjoy all her books, regardless.
Trisha Smith
Just finished reading this wonderful and complex and honest and heart-wrenching book a few hours ago. Review coming soon.

See my review and others here: http://onceuponatime-bookblog.blogspo...

This is the first book that I have read by Anne Tyler. It is a wonderful and compelling novel about the marriage gone horribly wrong of two people and the effects that it has across three generations. Michael and Pauline are young when they meet at Michael's mother's grocery store in the early 1940s. Michae
May 13, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2015 Natalia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: am-lit
Leo Tolstoy famously opened up his novel Anna Karenina by stating, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The Amateur Marriage can be read as Anne Tyler’s extensive commentary on this statement.
This novel deals with life of an American family that spans over six decades. It begins in a Polish neighborhood of Baltimore with reverberations of the Pearl Harbor, triggering the marriage. Towards the end the narrative is informed of the attacks on the World Trad
Talia Carner
Oct 01, 2011 Talia Carner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is amazing how long a marriage can remain "amateur." Yet, with a keen eye to the characters of two good people whose incompatibilities only deepen with time, Anne Tyler portrays the kind of marriage that is all too universal: two young people, propped against one another by society and by forces of history, are bound together for a lifetime. Or is it a lifetime? Not until one of them surprises the other and snaps.

I particularly liked Tyler's masterful depiction of Pauline, a loveable, volati
Feb 21, 2008 cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-stuff
the amateur marriage took me completely by surprise. i did not expect to love it as much as i did, nor did i expect to finish or even begin it as quickly as i did. but it was one of those situations where every free moment i had, my eyes wandered over to the book and i was just swallowing it whole the entire time. it's not very long, BUT it very well could have been. i love authors who have the capacity to write their novel without overburdening or stretching it out unnecessarily. bonus points f ...more
Jennifer S. Brown
This was an interesting novel chronicling the marriage (and dissolution of said marriage) of Michael and Pauline. I really enjoyed how each chapter represented a different period of their lives; no awkward transitions or unnecessary info to slow things down. The book follows them from when they first meet at the outset of World War II through 1990. The chapters bound forward, aging children and spouses and the times. But ultimately, there was something too flat about the characters. I found the ...more
Sharon Metcalf
Jul 31, 2016 Sharon Metcalf rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I've found that prior expectations and the timing of a read can have a great influence on the level of enjoyment derived from a book. In this instance I think the odds were stacked against The Amateur Marriage. I'd heard many good things about Anne Tyler's books so my expectations were probably higher than they needed to be. Regarding the timing, I was reading this book concurrently with A Little Life. Given that's one of the most incredible books I've read, I think this one somewhat paled into ...more
Feb 09, 2015 A.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
This is the portrait of a marriage between Michael the stoic son of the grocer and Pauline the flighty middle class girl. They both have their issues. Pauline would make me insane and Michael made another conscript angry enough to shoot him in the ass - an injury that results in his demob and a lifelong limp. They met just before the war; a time when divorce was frowned upon and you stuck together. I know my parents did. And lord knows why… but I digress.
I suppose it is arguable that all first m
May 27, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anne-tyler
Anne Tyler stated in an interview about this novel that she writes "more or less the same sort of story." It must be her memorable characters and timeless themes that make me see every Tyler novel I have read as wholly original, each evoking in me a sense of wonder as to how she can convey so much in even the simplest of dialogues and plot developments.

I always experience pure literary joy when I read her novels.
Paul Lima
Dec 15, 2014 Paul Lima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a delightful book. The plot is very simple -- a man and a woman get married around World War Two. The book follows their lives for 30+ years -- their relationships, their ups and downs, their children, their grandchildren... It's not so much the plot as it is the characters and the writing that I found most engaging, although stuff happens (I won't give any of it away) it is really domestic stuff. Not much more than that. And the passage of time, the way it passes -- you are aware of it's p ...more
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts a ...more
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“He wished he had inhabited more of his life, used it better, filled it fuller.” 27 likes
“She was good at talking with young people. She seemed to view them as interesting foreigners.” 20 likes
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