Evie's Reviews > The Amateur Marriage

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
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Jun 21, 08

Recommended to Evie by: Everyone
Recommended for: Everyone
Read in June, 2008

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 each other, but out of duty, expectations, or simply the era in which they were raised, they end up spending a good chunk of their lives married--not exactly miserable, but definitely not happy--to each other. You want to shake one or both of them to wake them up so they can spare each other more useless years boredom and pain. You want to yell, "Do something, PLEASE!" In the meantime, the children absorb all the parental drama--all the "what ifs", denied wishes, resentment--and end up (one of them at least) adding more stress to the marriage. Finally, one of the parents ends up leaving, but I don't feel that that character is any more happy than when married to the original partner. So what is the point?

I think both are looking for something they couldn't have possibly found in each other or maybe even in another partner. Neither of them seem to get this by the end of the book, but that's what the kids will end up working out on their own with a shrink!
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Jeffrey You've just skimmed the surface! Many of her other books are even better than Grownups and Amateur Marriage! Try Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Breathing Lessons, Ladder of Years, to name but three.


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