In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is about to crumble.With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.
Yates's debut 1961 novel revealed a growing and present malaise about middle-class existence as seen through the eyes of protagonists Frank and April. Believing themselves a cut above the rest of their neighbors and friends, the two set their sights upon a scheme to move to France and live a nontraditional life. However, much like the illusion of the white picket fence home, their dreams are not enough to stave off the reality of their unhappy life. Mark Bramhall sways back and forth between successful and annoying narration. Some character voices are caricatures, grating on the listeners' ears without much justification from the text. For others, the chosen voice helps to emphasize the sense (or source) of alienation that Frank and April feel about the people in their lives. However, Bramhall's tone does wonders for eliciting the ironic throughout Yates's prose. A Vintage paperback.
The only book I have ever read by this author and it is full of the human spirit, though not always in a positive way, and human drama. Essentially an intense character study based in the mid-20th century which reveals the difficulties of interpersonal relationships, particularly early marriage. A good read but not a good deal of humor if you are so inclined...EAF
Boring and Dissatifying
I have had extraordinary luck in picking books to read this year. This book represented a bump in the road. It was long and tedious and overall dissatisfying. You may enjoy it very much, but I couldn’t recommend it.
An amazing gift
The could've been, in a life of hopeless ambition, saturated in a helpless and trapped existence. This novel is a masterpiece and Yates depiction of suburban assimilation and the ordinary lends to the tragic embodiment of both characters. It's brilliance is in that this story is you, it's me, it's your neighbor, brother, and sister. A must read for those who want to relate, question, and cry themselves a pond full of broken never will be's. Truly a gift from Yates.