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The Amateur Marriage

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  12,825 Ratings  ·  1,093 Reviews
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 twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s groc
Hardcover, Large Print, 512 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Diversified Publishing (first published 2004)
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Deanna I did the same thing! I actually gave up on it for a while, because the beginning moves a little slow. But I picked it back up and couldn't put it…moreI did the same thing! I actually gave up on it for a while, because the beginning moves a little slow. But I picked it back up and couldn't put it down afterwards. I had to see what happened to them. It grows on you before you realize it's there.(less)
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Jan 18, 2016 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
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
Aug 23, 2008 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
Glenn Sumi
Aug 26, 2015 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 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,
Sep 17, 2008 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
helen the bookowl
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Anne Tyler has written a warm and beautiful story about life, destinies and everyday worries. This particular one deals with Michael and Pauline who got married way too quickly. They realize through their marriage that they're incompatible, which makes this book an exploration of their life together. Each chapter skips ahead a bunch of years, and in that way we get a fast-forward, intriguing story.
What I liked the most about this novel is that it challenges the romantic idea of a ha
Shelagh Rice
Another classic read from Anne Tyler 4.5 stars. A marriage that should never have happened but lasts for 30 years. This is an exploration of complex relationships that fascinate from start to finish. Tyler is so good at these sweeping novels that span generations and are as fresh today as the day they were written. Her characters are so fully rounded and we can recognise them immediately in our own lives. This is a story not only of a marriage but of a time in history (from before WW2 onwards) a ...more
Sep 25, 2009 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
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
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
3,5 Sterne
Sep 20, 2008 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
May 06, 2011 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
Feb 17, 2016 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 15, 2016 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 14, 2008 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
From BBc Radio 4 - 15 Minute drama:
By Anne Tyler dramatised by Rebecca Lenkiewicz.

Episode one - 1941, Iodine and Bandages

An unexpected romantic encounter over first aid between Michael and Pauline is the beginning of this story of a turbulent partnership.

Director: David Hunter.
Jun 21, 2008 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
May 08, 2012 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 09, 2009 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
Aug 14, 2008 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
Saleh MoonWalker
The Amateur Marriage is a sometimes painful, sometimes sad, sometimes funny look into the marriage of Pauline and Michael Anton, a mismatched couple who endure a 30-year union. What I most like about Anne Tyler is that she makes us realize through her characters that we are all flawed human beings, but that is what makes us lovable. This book has a darker feel to it than her other novels, but that is inherent in exploring the subject matter of a bad marriage. Oddly though, I didn't find the book ...more
Sarah Obsesses over Books & Cookies
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Talia Carner
Oct 01, 2011 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 17, 2015 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
Jan 22, 2008 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
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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
More about Anne Tyler...
“He wished he had inhabited more of his life, used it better, filled it fuller.” 29 likes
“She was good at talking with young people. She seemed to view them as interesting foreigners.” 20 likes
More quotes…