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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  18,280 Ratings  ·  2,915 Reviews
“Tell the story of your marriage,” my young friend Niki says to me. “Write down how it is you have a happy marriage” But the story of my marriage, which is the great joy and astonishment of my life, is too much like a fairy tale, the German kind, unsweetened by Disney.

This December, we are excited to present our members with a gift that is truly unique: an original essay,

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Paperback, Large Print, 459 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by HarperLuxe (first published December 11th 2011)
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Spencer I have not organized a book club presentation, but I did just finish the book, and I think one approach that could work would be to group the essays…moreI have not organized a book club presentation, but I did just finish the book, and I think one approach that could work would be to group the essays by subject matter. Just for example, you could group her essays on books and writing (e.g. "The Bookstore Strikes Back" and "The Getaway Car") and discuss those together. Group her essays focusing on relationships together. Those of her childhood/growing up. Career. Those that deal with death. Something like that.

Alternatively, you could not focus so much on particular essays, but organize the discussion by themes she touches on (e.g. love, marriage, writing, loss, adventure), and open up the discussion for people to draw from any of the essays they choose.

Or you could just pull themes or ideas from certain of her essays and have that lead the discussion. Just as some quick examples, I thought her idea that "[t]here can be something cruel about people who have had good fortune. They equate it with personal goodness" was profound and thought-provoking.

Just some ideas. Good luck!(less)
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Diane
O Ann Patchett, how I adore thee. This is a marvelous collection of essays from one of my favorite writers, most of which I had never read before.

Before becoming a bestselling novelist, Patchett made a living by writing articles for various magazines, including Seventeen, Vogue, Gourmet, Outside and The New York Times Magazine. Over the years, she stacked up a significant pile of essays, and a friend recently nudged her into putting her favorites into a collection. Pieces date from the 1990s up
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Glenn Sumi
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of a happy reader.

Ann Patchett is best known as a novelist (Bel Canto, State Of Wonder). But as she proves here and in her memoir Truth & Beauty , she’s also a brilliant non-fiction writer: sharply observant, warm, intelligent. She’s incapable of writing an awkward or dishonest sentence.

The title of this book is named after one of the essays, about her long-simmering but in the end inevitable and absolutely correct decision to marry her husband Karl, after a disastrous ea
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Frances
Disclaimer: after meeting Ann Patchett, I am head over heels. I've loved her writing since Bel Canto, but I've gained a new level of appreciation for her since hearing her speak. She is charming, gracious, and witty. Reading her essays is like spending more time with her, and I can't get enough. I found so many things that I relate to in these essays, and a few areas where we are different enough that I gained a new sense of perspective.
Larry H
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people ask me how I select the books I read. Sometimes they've been recommended by someone else whose preferences are similar to mine, or I've read enthusiastic reviews about them. In other cases, I've been intrigued by the title or even the cover. (Never underestimate the power of a stroll through a bookstore when you can find one.) But quite often, I choose books written by authors whose books I've come to love. There is a growing list of authors I'm constantly looking up on Amazon to see ...more
Yaaresse
I suspect the praise for this book comes from one (or both) of two camps:
1. Women who have read and loved Patchett's novels and are die-hard fangirls.
2. Women who desperately dream of being writers and are at that stage where they inhale any advice from any published writer that might tell them how to do it.

Sexist? Perhaps. Maybe there are men who love her work. I just doubt there are many of them.

I picked up this book because I heard a Fresh Air interview with Patchett in which she describe
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☮Karen
I've something of a curiosity about what makes writers tick, from where do they get their inspiration. Like Anna Quindlen, Ann Patchett not only writes tremendous fiction, she gets an A+ for her non-fiction as well. These are her personal experiences. It was great getting to know her, as I think she'd make a great friend.

This is not just the story of a happy marriage. It also covers her very unhappy first marriage, her mother's marriages, and her father the cop (the latter two being major storyl
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Jennifer
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, essays
How is it possible that Ann Patchett and I are not BFFs? Reading this book of essays was like catching up with a girlfriend over a glass of wine and several pounds of cheese. My intention was to read this sparingly, interspersed between other books like a palate cleanser, but instead I kept saying, "I'll just read one more...". Ann (I feel like we should be on first name basis at this point) has certainly lived a life. I loved the story of her bid to get into the police academy - not only becaus ...more
JanB
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
The title is a tad misleading. This is a compilation of various articles the author has written over the years for various publications. The first few were about her experiences on becoming an author. I'm not an author, nor do I have plans to become one, but I enjoyed the conversational tone and the insights into a profession I know little about.

The remaining essays are on a variety of subjects and the author can be quite funny and self-deprecating. Nor does she leave out the unflattering storie
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Debbie
Since “State of Wonder” is one of my absolute favorite books, I of course had to read this new book of essays. It did not disappoint; her way with words makes me feel all happy and fulfilled. She writes with candor, humor, and warmth, and she is oh so perceptive and wise.

One essay, called The Getaway Car, which I had read as a Kindle single and loved, is about writing. It grabs you and keeps you glued to the page as if it were fiction. I love the history of this essay title: She worked as a wait
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Mona
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my cuppa

This collection of essays, many of them written for "The Atlantic" or "The New York Times" sometimes left me feeling bored and cold, although there were exceptions.

The piece in which Ann takes the rigorous entrance exams for the LA PD police academy is quite interesting. So too is the essay about how she was picketed at Clemson University when she went to speak there, because certain local conservatives thought her book, "Truth and Beauty" contained too many sex and drug scenes. The
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Elyse
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of mostly prior magazine articles that Ann Patchett had done during her lifetime. She tells us from the beginning. How fun... To collect your life essays... then gather them... (Work out the details), to create a book. Perfect for this established author.
The title story is simply one story, ( a touching story), but not the overall theme.
From the start, we read about Ann's years of working for Seventeen Magazine. She also did freelance work... And submitted essays to other
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Melanie
Sep 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful four-star collection that gets five stars because of the essay "The Getaway Car" (a must read for all writers out there). This book made me want to read all of Ann Patchett's previous works, especially "Truth and Beauty" and "State of Wonder". I'm also dying to visit her famous Parnassus bookstore in Nashville.
Trish
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, memoir, nonfiction
More than halfway through this collection of essays I begin to think that one of the most important characteristics for a successful memoirist must be good humor. Patchett wrote most of this collection of nonfiction essays earlier in her career for different publications. She supplemented those with a couple longer, deeper pieces written later: “The Getaway Car” and “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage,” “Dog Without End,” and “The Mercies,” all stories about the great loves in her life.

Togeth
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PorshaJo
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challengereads
I loved this book. So many different essays here and after reading them I think I know a lot more about Anne Patchett. I had to think about my rating on this one. Anytime I read anything by this author I always compare the book to Bel Canto, which is an amazing book and one of my favorites. But I must stop doing this. This book was so different and you just can't compare the two. I think my favorite story, which is was hard to choose one, was regarding the police academy. The wonderful thing abo ...more
Debra
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is OFFICIALLY my favorite Ann Patchett book!!!!! (I put "OFFICIALLY" in BIG print thus making my statement really official!)

I am actually surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. I am not a short story, essay, article type of gal. I like novels - novellas are fine but I'm not a short story or article reader. Having said that, Ann Patchett may have changed things for me because as I mentioned, I loved this book i.e. collection of articles/essays. I love how she blended the events
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Cher
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, memoir-bio
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

Much like with her fiction, in this memoir-ish collection of essays, Ann Patchett has a truly lovely way with words. The book starts off with a heavy focus on writing and being an author. While that is not a career I am particularly interested in, I still found those essays to be interesting. From there, however, the book branches off into much more fascinating topics, primarily relationship dynamics of all kinds.

Prior to reading this I did not know that she w
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Sarah Beth
I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from HarperCollins.

I've read one of Ann Patchett's novels, Bel Canto, and her first memoir, Truth and Beauty, and know her to be someone capable of both smart and beautiful writing, so I was naturally excited for the chance to read her latest memoir, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. The title led me to believe that this would largely focus on her marital relationship, but instead this is a very personal look at the mainstays of Patchett's life
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Julie Ehlers
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone except for tiresome snobs who think Ann Patchett is beneath them
While I was reading this, I was already anticipating giving the book five stars, with four stars based on the book's merits and one star based on the fact that I'm kind of obsessed with Ann Patchett and want to be her friend. However, by the time I got to the title essay, I'd decided the book deserved five stars regardless of my slightly demented feelings toward its author. After all, I'd already read one of the book's long-form essays, "The Getaway Car," in electronic form and gave it five star ...more
Snotchocheez
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(This really shouldn't have been a shock to me, given two of my GR friends extolling its virtues, but)

I have not really been a avid Ann Patchett "fan" per se, but I liked the three novels of hers I've read so far (her first, The Patron Saint of Liars, Run and her most recent State of Wonder) and thought I'd give this collection of essays a try. Let's just say I can now say after reading This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage that I am unquestionably a fan, and plan to read all of her back catalo
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Lisa Montanaro
This is the sixth Ann Patchett book that I have read, and the second one that is nonfiction. She has an extraordinary gift for writing both fiction and nonfiction, and is, quite simply, my favorite author living today. I feel like she writes only for me, which I know is ridiculously silly, but feels like the truth when I'm devouring the words nonetheless.

"This is the Story of a Happy Marriage" is a compilation of personal essays written by Ann over many years, spanning various subjects, includi
...more
Alena
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Already a huge Patchett fan, after reading these essays I want to get in my car, drive to Parnassus Books and convince her that we should be great friends. And, yes, I know it's a little creepy, but that's how much I love her non-fiction voice. These essays cover the gamut, from books to friendship, to relationships and religion -- all my favorite topics. She inspired me to add some titles to my to-read and reminded me why I fell in love with her in the first place.
Just a fine, fine read.
Trish
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes love does not have the most honorable beginnings, and the endings, the endings will break you in half. It's everything in between we live for.

This was my first encounter with Ann Patchett and her writing and I must say I'm thoroughly impressed. In reading this collection I've realized that there are so many authors whose works I love but whom I do not know at all. The only other book I can think of that provided such a window into the author's soul was Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castl
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Karolyn Sherwood
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
It's no wonder I like Ann Patchett's novels so much; our lives seemed to have mirrored each other's in many ways.

This is an audiobook which Ms. Patchett (I wish she'd finally say to me, "Please, call me Ann.") narrates as a brief memoir about her current marriage, but explains that she must first tell the tale of her lineage: four generations of failed marriages. (Ironically, for me, she begins the story by saying that she was never fond of audiobooks until she heard the fantastic Jeremy Irons
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Rebecca H.
Oct 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I didn’t realize when I first picked up this book that it’s a collection of essays; I thought instead that it was a memoir. But I didn’t mind — I like both genres. And, as it turns out, the essays are mostly autobiographical, so I learned a lot about Patchett’s life by reading them. Patchett is a good writer, and I liked all of the essays, some more than others, of course. The most memorable one for me wasn’t the title essay, although that was very good, but “The Bookstore Strikes Back,” about o ...more
Nusrah Javed
These are the kind of essays I love to read. I have left this book with an even deeper love for Patchett! Highly recommended
Diane S ☔
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 I have read Ann Patchett's books for a long time now, long enough that I can see her improving in her craft, book by book. This grouping of essays cover a wide range of subjects that she has written throughout the years.

So interesting how she started her writing career and how she approaches her writing now, the care she puts into her research. Very informative Marriage, her Catholic faith, RV travel, and of course her dog Rosie. Loved how she talked about her dog, can tell she is madly in
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Terry
Jun 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
I just don't know why, but I have some weird compulsion to force myself to read, if not like, Ann Patchett. I don't know where that comes from. Some of it is my snotty deigning to read what the masses are reading, according to bestseller lists; some of it is that I know people whose taste I respect and admire who are fans, and I am trying to both be one and figure out a reason to be one (heh). Anyway. I just don't like Patchett's fiction. I'm not a huge fan of Alice Sebold's or Jonathan Franzen' ...more
Lise
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've realised after reading this that a book of essays is just not my cup of tea. State of Wonder, Bel Canto and The Magician's Assistant are among my favourite books. I didn't really care for Truth and Beauty..... maybe it's just non-fiction by Patchett that I'm not wild about. I found myself flipping to the end of each essay to see where it was published because I was more interested in the audience than the story itself. The Wall tells the story of Patchett applying to the LAPD (her Dad was a ...more
Lynne Spreen
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
March 2014 update: I need to clear this off my "currently reading" shelf because I finished it months ago and never finished this review, BUT you can see how good the book is from what I wrote back in Nov. 2013:

I'm only halfway through this book, and just finished the story called The Wall, about Ann trying out for the LAPD one summer. Her father, retired from the force, had been revered. He loved his job. She loved him. She intended only to write about her experience, but by the end of the stor
...more
Pauline
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author has a lovely style of prose. This book is a collection of essays. The best ones were about her grandmother and a cross country drive in an RV.
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6,179 followers
Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi
...more
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“Listen she said, everything ends, every single relationship you will ever have in your lifetime is going to end.... I'll die, you'll die, you'll get tired of each other. You don't always know how it's going to happen, but it is always going to happen. So stop trying to make everything permanent, it doesn't work. I want you to go out there and find some nice man you have no intention of spending the rest of your life with. You can be very, very happy with people you aren't going to marry.” 65 likes
“People seem able to love their dogs with an unabashed acceptance that they rarely demonstrate with family or friends. The dogs do not disappoint them, or if they do, the owners manage to forget about it quickly. I want to learn to love people like this, the way I love my dog, with pride and enthusiasm and a complete amnesia for faults. In short, to love others the way my dog loves me.” 43 likes
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