Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Amateur Marriage

Today I finished Anne Tyler’s novel The Amateur Marriage. This is her sixteenth novel out of seventeen, but my first Tyler novel.

I only knew a little about this book before purchasing it. This may sound horrible, but I will sometimes purchase a book just because of the title or how it looks. (I get overwhelmed with the beauty of books.) I saw The Amateur Marriage, along with Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, on a table at the bookstore last week. I purchased both. There is a haunting simplicity to the titles and the design of the editions I purchased (Ballantine quality paperbacks).

Now that I’ve finished The Amateur Marriage, I’m glad I also purchased Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Tyler is a master of her craft.

The Amateur Marriage is not about anything spectacular; the plot revolves around everyday life. It is in everyday life, however, that things really do happen. Tyler illustrates this beautifully.

The novel follows the marriage of Pauline and Michael Anton, beginning with their first meeting. An excerpt of a review from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the back cover describes the book as “…disarming, deceptively rich…” I find this accurate.

The Amateur Marriage cannot be described as a happy story. It is better to label it a slow, unfolding series of small tragedies. The tragic elements are not unique, but common, which makes the novel even more moving. It rings with truth.

When I reached the end of the book, I had to read the final paragraphs a few times. It was difficult to allow the story to end. Highly recommended!


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