Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Reading List: Revolutionary Road (and a copy to Give-a-Way)

Revolutionary Road  by Richard Yates

"April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy." (synopsis from

I always search the book section of thrift stores, when collecting things for my Etsy and Ebay listings, and when I spotted Revolutionary Road I was reminded that I enjoyed the movie, so I picked it up.  I like to idealise things and that is what I did when thinking I would enjoy this book.  I forgot that the one of the main characters, April, disgusted me.  I remembered that the movie was based in one of my favorite times in history, 1950s.  I remembered that it dealt with a young actress turned housewife and thought I might identify with April ( I studied and worked as an actress and am now a housewife)....but I forgot she is NOTHING like me.  She is a sad SAD S A D woman.  A shell of a human who feels sorry for herself and went into a marriage and became a mother when she had no business doing so.  I hate that one of my favorite actresses played her in the movie because it is hard to remember I did not like her...funny since I seem to have such a strong opinion of April....but Kate Winslet is such a good and attractive actress.  Maybe I am being hard on April because she is obviously depressed and emotionally sick.  But it is easier to just not like her and since reading is supposed to be something I do to relax, it should be easy.  However this book is not easy, it is a very "thinking" book (you know a book that makes you THINK even after you are long done with it).

So maybe Frank is not such a good guy...he is pompous and a bit self involved....but he did not do, what I consider, a terrible thing in the he gets away with being an arrogant 1950's man (sometimes brute).  And besides Leonardo DiCaprio plays him in the movies and I loves me some Leo.  I am not excusing this character but .... well it is what it is in my mind. ~shrug~

Besides the drama of the book, it is set in the 1950s.  Frank and April live in a typical suburban neighborhood, Frank commutes to New York for his job.  Frank is an up and comer despite he is bored with his job and life...and really does nothing at work.  He does enough in the "eleventh hour" to get noticed.  Frank takes long Martini lunches and has an affair with a secretary. The Wheelers have cocktails with other suburban couples and try to be involved with their community and cultural events.  April tried to make an effort and dresses in pretty dresses and frilly aprons at times.  The movie is pretty on the surface and the book describes a nice "scene"....but that is only surface.  Richard Yates paints a nice picture....and then we get into trouble because we might not expect such ugliness in his characters.

So....if you would like to read this book, even after all this...just leave a comment and I will draw a name.



  1. I really liked this film, even though it is difficult viewing! I really sympathise with April, probably because of the fact that she is really depressed and completely without a social support network. Frank, I feel, takes just as much blame for the end as she does - doesn't he yell that he wished she had done it? Both characters are in such a sad, hopeless situation, I just felt sorry for them both at the end (as much as they both disgusted me at the start). I'd love a chance to read the book, however!

  2. I saw the movie, but haven't read the book. Your thoughts on April's character are quite interesting to me. I must watch the movie again. She didn't disgust me; he did, actually. In watching my parents' relationship over the past 40+ years (and my Aunts' relationships), I've seen how the women of my Mother's generation put themselves second, third, fourth . . . to marriage and children, and I guess the expectations of society -- a 1950's society -- made them behave and feel this way. My Father (and I loved him dearly) passed away in March after a very long illness, and I hate to say this, but I'm glad he passed away before my Mother. Why? Because now, my Mother can make decisions for herself and be accountable for the good (and bad) outcomes -- she doesn't have my Father to blame any more. I see my Father's death as liberating for my Mother. She would not agree, I'm sure, but this is just my opinion as a somewhat outsider. I'm so thankful to have grown up when I did. The options for me are unlimited. And for April, I believe had she grown up in my time, she would've been stronger. I don't know. Just me rambling around midnight, when I should be in bed. xoxoxo kris

  3. Its not an easy movie to watch with all the fighting and also I had to watch it in pieces during the kids naps. Id love to read the book because Im sure there was alot that I missed.

  4. I hadn't heard of this before, but it sounds intriguing