Gloria Mundi's Reviews > Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
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My husband and I have one of those relationships that a lot of people would refer to as fraught or even (dare I say it?) dysfunctional. We argue. A lot. As people, we are as completely different as it is possible to be. He is an extrovert who thrives on attention, comes from a large family and enjoys physical work and nature. I am an introvert with a single sibling and like nothing better than to read. Our views on everything from the correct way way to bring up one's child to whether god exists are diametrically opposed. Here are a few examples of things we have argued about:

• Whether to leave the curtains open or closed. My husband is convinced that the perverts of the world routinely camp outside our house just to catch a glimpse of me ironing fully clothed in our bedroom.

• Whether the collar on a polo shirt should be worn up or down. In response to his feeble bleatings that he doesn't want his neck to burn, I have very subtly told him that if he wants to look like an unspeakable prole he can very well walk on the other side of the street from me.

• Which is better, Russia or England. I am Russian and my husband is English which, obviously, means that not only are we personally responsible for every action taken by our respective countries throughout history but we are also each charged with the task of defending and propagating the social and cultural mores of those countries to the other.

• Arguments about arguments – whose fault an argument was, who started it (not to be confused with the former), what the argument is about, whether it is happening at all and so on.

You get the gist.

So trust me when I tell you that the arguments and the relationship politics which Yates describes in Revolutionary Road are frighteningly authentic. It is a brilliant account of a marriage going wrong, full of black humour and exceptionally well-written, and I would thoroughly recommend this book just for that.

Frank and April are very flawed characters but very real and intricately drawn. They are selfish, self-absorbed and self-aggrandising, they each rely on the other to make their life worthwhile and make them into the kind of person they want to be and they take themselves and their bullshit far too seriously. Add to this the effect of the mind numbing 50s suburbia and the straight-jacket rigidity of the 50s gender roles and the nuclear family ideal and you get the tragic farce that is Frank and April's marriage.

Some reviewers have argued that the book has become irrelevant because it is set in a world that no longer exists. I don't think so. I think the way we live and function now is not really so brave or so new as we would like to think. Yates is fantastic at picking apart the fictions that we create about ourselves, the personas that we construct (both in our interaction with others and in our own mind) and the values that we ascribe to certain choices and lifestyles and that, I believe, is as relevant today as it ever was. It has certainly given me much food for thought and is still fresh in my memory, even though I read the book several years ago.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Regina This review is amazing! I love the personal insight. My husband and I are like that too. I am reading this book this month, you have made me want to start very soon.


Gloria Mundi Thanks, Regina.


Cecily What a wonderfully personal review.


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