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The Resource The amateur marriage, a novel by Anne Tyler

The amateur marriage, a novel by Anne Tyler

Label
The amateur marriage
Title
The amateur marriage
Statement of responsibility
a novel by Anne Tyler
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Marrying quickly during World War II after falling in love at first sight, a mismatched couple discovers that their different personalities and approaches to life are taking a toll on their relationship and their family
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
New York Times Notable Book, 2004.
Review
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor serves as the catalyst for Tyler’s sixteenth novel by propelling Pauline, bleeding from a minor wound sustained in the fervor of a spontaneous patriotic parade, into the humble family grocery run by handsome and reserved young Michael and his embittered widow mother. An outsider to this tightly knit, Polish Catholic Baltimore neighborhood, Pauline is pretty, impulsive, and touchy, and although she and the far more deliberate and reticent Michael fall instantly in love, they are also immediately at odds. They marry precipitously, move into the cramped apartment above the store with his mother, rapidly produce three children, and consistently make each other miserable. Tyler’s strength resides in her penetrating psychological portraits and delight in mundane details, and these gifts are evident in the novel’s promising opening scenes. But the usually adept Tyler ends up setting 30 years of tedious marital unhappiness and domestic tragedy against a distressingly superficial and bland accounting of the rise of suburbia and the flowering of hippie culture. Her observations about how abruptly even the most boring life can go wrong, and about the fact that we are all amateurs in our first marriages, are poignant, however, and may be enough to satisfy readers who seek safe and comfy novels. -- Donna Seaman (BookList, 11-15-2003, p549)
  • /* Starred Review */ Because Tyler writes with scrupulous accuracy about muddled, unglamorous suburbanites, it is easy to underestimate her as a sort of Pyrex realist. Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class's Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn't share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed. Her latest novel delineates, in careful strokes, the 30-year marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, and its dissolution. In December 1941 in St. Cassians, a mainly Eastern European conclave in Baltimore, 20-year-old Michael meets Pauline and is immediately smitten. They marry after Michael is discharged from the army, but their temperaments don't mix. For Michael, self-control is the greatest of virtues; for Pauline, expression is what makes us human. She is compulsively friendly, a bad hider of emotions, selfish in her generosity ("my homeless man") and generous in her selfishness. At Pauline's urging, the two move to the suburbs, where they raise three children, George, Karen and Lindy. Lindy runs away in 1960 and never comes back—although in 1968, Pauline and Michael retrieve Pagan, Lindy's three-year-old, from her San Francisco landlady while Lindy detoxes in a rehab community that her parents aren't allowed to enter. Michael and Pauline got married at a time when the common wisdom, expressed by Pauline's mother, was that "marriages were like fruit trees.... Those trees with different kinds of branches grafted onto the trunks. After a time, they meld, they grow together, and... if you tried to separate them you would cause a fatal wound." They live into an era in which the accumulated incompatibilities of marriage end, logically, in divorce. For Michael, who leaves Pauline on their 30th anniversary, divorce is redemption. For Pauline, the divorce is, at first, a tragedy; gradually, separation becomes a habit. A lesser novelist would take moral sides, using this story to make a didactic point. Tyler is much more concerned with the fine art of human survival in changing circumstances. The range and power of this novel should not only please Tyler's immense readership but also awaken us to the collective excellency of her career. (Jan.) Forecast: Expect the usual blockbuster sales—there will be a first printing of 300,000. This is also likely to become one of Tyler's strongest backlist titles. --Staff (Reviewed December 22, 2003) (Publishers Weekly, vol 250, issue 51, p37)
  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Tyler makes a strong return with this memorable exploration of personal identity within middle-class family life. Set in the author's favorite locale of Baltimore and its environs, the novel centers on the Antons, a sympathetic but mismatched couple who endure years of unhappy wedlock. The two appear well suited when they meet and fall in love at the beginning of World War II. Outgoing, enthusiastic Pauline, eager to embrace her husband's Polish American traditions, seems the perfect complement to reserved and practical Michael. Raising three children while building the family grocery business initially brings mutual satisfactions; however, neither their increasing prosperity nor a comfortable suburban home can lessen growing tensions, which become unbearable when the couple must face the consequences of a rebellious daughter's disappearance. Unlike the Ryans of Tyler's Breathing Lessons, the Antons have not forged marital bonds strong enough to endure. Their sad story, as dark and ironic as Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, is leavened by Tyler's trademark comic details, narrated with characteristic dry and witty understatement. This rewarding work is recommended for most public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/03.]—Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Falls Church, VA (Reviewed November 15, 2003) (Library Journal, vol 128, issue 19, p100)
  • Painfully accurate and painfully funny as ever, Tyler's 16th novel (Back When We Were Grownups, 2001, etc.) traces the stormy union of two people who love but can't stand each other.Pauline bursts into Michael Anton's grocery store in December 1941, a bloody handkerchief pressed to the temple she wounded while impulsively jumping off a Baltimore streetcar to join an enlistment parade. In no time flat, she's persuaded Michael to join up, and they're married right after he's discharged. Three children arrive in short order, but it's not long before Michael is wondering, "Was it possible to dislike your own wife?" They're simply not good match: "Pauline tumbled through life helter-skelter while Michael proceeded deliberately . . . . Pauline believed that marriage was an interweaving of souls, while Michael viewed it as two people traveling side by side but separately." She sweeps him off to the suburbs and eventually gets him to move the family grocery store out there too; Michael always ends up doing what she wants while quietly resenting her moods, her enthusiasms, her recklessness. Pauline in turn is infuriated by "his rigidity, his caution, his literal-mindedness . . . his stodginess in bed, his magical ability to make her seem hysterical." Tyler beautifully delineates both spouses' perspectives throughout her episodic narrative, which drops in on the highlights of the Anton's 30-year marriage and the 20-year aftermath of their divorce. (A good technique, except for the terrible mistake of having the story's most vivid character die offstage.) Flashes of tenderness and genuine love serve to underscore the sad fact that they simply aren't suited, and cogent portraits of their children reveal the emotional damage they inflicted. Alive as always to life's messy ambiguities, Tyler declines to reach a final conclusion about this "amateur marriage," closing with a lovely image of Pauline's face lighting up with joy as her husband approaches—but it's just in Michael's imagination.So smart, so sensitive, so readable and engaging. Is it churlish to suggest that an author obviously at the peak of her powers should broaden her horizons and push herself a little harder the next time out? (Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
121149
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Tyler, Anne
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
LC call number
PS3570.Y45
LC item number
A59 2004
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Grandparent and child
  • Runaway teenagers
  • Marital conflict
  • Married people
  • Mate selection
  • Baltimore (Md.)
Target audience
adult
Label
The amateur marriage, a novel by Anne Tyler
Instantiates
Publication
Distribution
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
306 pages
Isbn
9781400042074
Lccn
2003059536
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Note
Imprint varies.
System control number
  • 52729037
  • 429995
Label
The amateur marriage, a novel by Anne Tyler
Publication
Distribution
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
306 pages
Isbn
9781400042074
Lccn
2003059536
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Note
Imprint varies.
System control number
  • 52729037
  • 429995

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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