Thursday, April 30, 2009
This 1961 novel by Richard Yates follows the slow falling apart of the marriage of Frank and April Wheeler. Living in the suburbs, they both yearn for something more, something less conventional, but are unable to escape the confines of their life.
Through most of the book, there just wasn't a whole lot going on and I didn't especially enjoy it. Yet it was oddly compelling, and I think it's because there was an underlying current of anticipation that the story was building towards something. It was, of course, and the ending did not disappoint. The characters weren't especially interesting to me, or likeable, and the children were like extras - two-dimensional people who existed only as logistical problems that needed to be dealt with. But that makes sense in the context of the story. The writing was good though, and that really pulled me along. As much as I wouldn't want to be friends with any of these people, Yates did a great job of making them realistic and bringing their flaws to the forefront. In a way, reading this book was like watching a bad accident in really slow motion.
As much as I don't really want to experience it all again, I may break down and watch the movie. I wonder why this book was picked out of relative obscurity and adapted to the screen - it doesn't seem like it would translate well since so much of it is internal, but that only makes me more curious to see it.
I have conflicting feelings about this book, but my final verdict is that although it wasn't very pleasant to read, I'm glad I did.