ISBN-13: 9780307454621
Publisher: Vintage Books
Published: May 2008
355 pgs

April and Frank Wheeler seemed to be the perfect couple in anyone's eyes. They are young and beautiful, have two lovely children and although each thinks they would have done better, life appeared to be smooth and serene for them.

Perhaps they married young, or they are just bored with their everyday life but deep down, the relationship between April and Frank is not everyone thinks it is. Frank thinks his job is boring, and April seemed uninterested being a homemaker although she does play on stage. In short, they feel unfulfilled both in their marriage and life. And though they pretend things went on well between them, they knew they are already drifting apart from each other. But then, April believed that things will change for the better if they moved out of the place and start somewhere afresh.

At this point, I felt the story pacing is somewhat slow but there are certainly more characters being introduced to the story. I was thinking more about the two protagonists and wondering if they would do anything to save their marriage, but then things back in the 1950s is very different from the society we are living today. Issue like equality between men and women is not as greatly emphasized as compared today, and then of course no one would like to create a scandal, no matter how unhappy they are.

Then, April starts questioning herself about her feelings for Frank and whether or not if she is prepared to have another child rekindle my interest in this book again and from there, the story seemed to be moving quickly. And I quite enjoyed reading the exchange between Helen (a real-estate broker) and her husband, Howard Givings, who seemed to be able to see underneath the Wheelers' facade.

For readers who are expecting a happily-ever-after ending, I am afraid the ending will be a disappointment but to me, it was like reading a true story of an unhappy couple feeling trapped with their life and in each other. It was sad, and yet powerful and thought-provoking in a way. I feel this book is more than April's and Frank's story, for I think miscommunications and unhappy marriages are common issues still faced by many married couples today.

Richard Yates' writing is beautiful; and the dialogues are sharp and to the point. The author had really done well giving insight to the readers about the characters' thoughts and their emotions. I am looking forward to watching the film adaptation, especially if Kate Winslet is playing the role of April.

Note: I would like to thank Alice for reading this book together with me. (Alice, it has been fun, as usual!)

Other blog review:
(Let me know if I have missed yours.)
24 Responses
  1. Alice Says:

    It's been really fun reading it with you, Melody!

    I like the book and how it relates to our lives, especially that of married couples. It's not an easy read and there's nothing fluffy about it. The book makes me think a lot.

    I'll be posting my review this weekend. :)

  2. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    Unfortunately for us today, I think people in the 50's tried a little harder to save their marriages (or at least put up with more) that we do today. Marriages seem to be considered more throw-away today, evidenced by the divorce rate. I've not read the book or seen the movie, but I've heard it is pretty dark, but very well acted. It would be great to see Kate and Leo together again!

  3. Debi Says:

    Nice review, Melody! With so many billions of books already on the wish list, I probably will never get to this one, but I still enjoyed reading your review very much!

  4. Beth F Says:

    Nice review. I've not read the book or seen the movie. Relationship stories always interest me, so maybe I'll have to take a look.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Melody, I'm glad you liked it. I've been thinking about reading, but was worried it was too negative.

    I love the new look of your blog!

  6. Ladytink_534 Says:

    I haven't decided if I'm going to read or see this one yet. I've heard both good and bad things about it but it does sound interesting nonetheless

  7. Ana S. Says:

    A friend was telling me about the movie the other day, and she went and spoiled the ending for me >:( So assuming they didn't change what happens in the book, I know this won't be a happy read. But I'd like to get to it anyhow.

  8. mariel Says:

    Unfortunately I missed the film, but it looked very good. I was given some of Yates' short stories this year, so will start with them. Great review, thanks!

  9. Darlene Says:

    Great review Melody. As I mentioned to you before I picked this book up a while back. Now I'd really like to pick it up and start reading it.

  10. Julia Says:

    Melody - Sorry that the book was a little disappointed for you. But glad that you have enjoy reading it though.

    I guess I was expecting lot from this book, since it was made into a movie and got nodded for nomination award.

  11. Melody Says:

    Alice - I'm already looking forward to our next joint-reading! ;) I can't wait to read your review soon.

    Sandy - I think so too. And my grandma's marriage was an arranged one and she got along fine with my grandpa, and I could tell they were very much in love although he had passed away when I was still very young.

    It'd be great to see Leo and Kate again after... Titanic? ;P

    Debi - Thanks, Debi! I'm hoping you'd read it some day!

    Beth - Thanks, Beth! I don't know, for some reason I find books on relationships to be quite enlightening.

    Kristy - I'm glad you like my new template. :) The story premise is indeed a little negative, but I thought it's an issue worth thinking about.

    Jen - Read the book first! LOL. I've heard some mixed reviews about this too but to each his own. :)

    Nymeth - Aww... I'm sorry your friend spoiled it for you. But we all know that books are always the best as compared to the film adaptations! ;P

    Mariel - After reading this book has definitely piqued my interest in Yates' other books!

    Dar - Thanks! I hope you'd read it soon, and that you'll enjoy it. :)

    Julia - Yeah, it was a little slow from the start but it got very interesting towards the middle. I can't wait to watch the movie.

  12. The Bookworm Says:

    wonderful review, I want to read this one too.

  13. I've heard such good things about this book, despite the depressing nature. I'm glad you found it worthwhile despite the slow start. I really like books that take a deep look at characters. Have you seen the movie?

  14. Melody Says:

    Naida - Thanks! I hope you'll read this book soon. :)

    Trish - No, the movie isn't out over here yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

  15. S. Krishna Says:

    Great review. I wasn't sure whether I wanted to read it or not, but now I want to after reading your review!

  16. Melody Says:

    Thanks, Krishna! I hope you'll enjoy it if you do pick up this book. :)

  17. Anonymous Says:

    I think you're very right that the book is more than just the story of April and Frank. I bet unless we live in denial, we can find ourselves in their shoes at one point or another in life. They are cornered by the inveterate institution of marriage and very helpless at the crossroad between living the dream life and resorting to parenthood. the slowness of the story somehow somehow parallels to secret and husband and wife keep from each other.

  18. Melody Says:

    Matt, I so agree with you! The book isn't an easy read, and I was almost shocked by the ending. It was all so sad!

  19. I have been wondering about this for awhile now and was glad to come across your review, Melody. It sounds like such a complex story. I am glad you enjoyed it!

  20. Melody Says:

    Wendy - It sure is, and a sad one. I hope you'll read this if you get the chance.

  21. Iliana Says:

    Melody you got a new look on your blog - I love it!

    Thank you for such a great review of this book. I want to read it and see the movie too. I'm actually reading a book about an unhappy marriage as well right now. Very sad to think that a lot of unhappiness could be resolved by at least saying something. Anyway, this one is on my radar!

  22. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Thanks! I'm glad you like it! :)

    I'm hoping to read your review on the book you're reading soon.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    I want to read this book - even tho I've read too many reviews of this AND the movie. I've also heard people say it moved slowly but I like how you and Matt explain it. I've very intrigued about this. And I always like to read the book before the flick. I always TRY, anyway.

  24. Josette Says:

    I can't wait to watch the movie starring DiCaprio and Winslet! They had such great chemistry in Titanic.

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