Revolutionary Road [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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Revolutionary Road

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Overview

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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

A deeply troubling book that creates an unforgetable portrait of lost hopes in the suburbs of America.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

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. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
"So much nonsense has been written on suburban life and mores that it comes as a considerable shock to read a book by someone who seems to have his own ideas on the subject and who pursues them relentlessly to the bitter end," said LJ's reviewer (LJ 2/1/61) of this novel of unhappy life in the burbs. It is reminiscent of the popular film American Beauty in its depiction of white-collar life as fraught with discontent. Others have picked up on this theme since, but Yates remains a solid read. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Michiko Kakutani
"Beautifully crafted...a remarkable and deeply troubling book." - The New York Times
From the Publisher
"The Great Gatsby of my time...one of the best books by a member of my generation." —Kurt Vonnegut

"Beautifully crafted...a remarkable and deeply troubling book." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307456274
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/8/2008
  • Series: Vintage
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 47,064
  • File size: 423 KB

Meet the Author

Richard Yates was born in 1926. The author of several acclaimed works of fiction, including Revolutionary Road, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, Disturbing the Peace, and The Easter Parade, he was lauded during his lifetime as the foremost novelist of the post-war "age of anxiety". He died in 1992.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

ONE

The final dying sounds of their dress rehearsal left the Laurel Players with nothing to do but stand there, silent and helpless, blinking out over the footlights of an empty auditorium. They hardly dared to breathe as the short, solemn figure of their director emerged from the naked seats to join them on stage, as he pulled a stepladder raspingly from the wings and climbed halfway up its rungs to turn and tell them, with several clearings of his throat, that they were a damned talented group of people and a wonderful group of people to work with.

"It hasn't been an easy job," he said, his glasses glinting soberly around the stage. "We've had a lot of problems here, and quite frankly I'd more or less resigned myself not to expect too much. Well, listen. Maybe this sounds corny, but something happened up here tonight. Sitting out there tonight I suddenly knew, deep down, that you were all putting your hearts into your work for the first time." He let the fingers of one hand splay out across the pocket of his shirt to show what a simple, physical thing the heart was; then he made the same hand into a fist, which he shook slowly and wordlessly in a long dramatic pause, closing one eye and allowing his moist lower lip to curl out in a grimace of triumph and pride. "Do that again tomorrow night," he said, "and we'll have one hell of a show."

They could have wept with relief. Instead, trembling, they cheered and laughed and shook hands and kissed one another, and somebody went out for a case of beer and they all sang songs around the auditorium piano until the time came to agree, unanimously, that they'd better knock it off and get a good night's sleep.

"See you tomorrow!" they called, as happy as children, and riding home under the moon they found they could roll down the windows of their cars and let the air in, with its health-giving smells of loam and young flowers. It was the first time many of the Laurel Players had allowed themselves to acknowledge the coming of spring.

The year was 1955 and the place was a part of western Connecticut where three swollen villages had lately been merged by a wide and clamorous highway called Route Twelve. The Laurel Players were an amateur company, but a costly and very serious one, carefully recruited from among the younger adults of all three towns, and this was to be their maiden production. All winter, gathering in one anther's living rooms for excited talks about Ibsen and Shaw and O'Neill, and then for the show of hands in which a common-sense majority chose The Petrified Forest, and then for preliminary casting, they had felt their dedication growing stronger every week. They might privately consider their director a funny little man (and he was, in a way: he seemed incapable of any but a very earnest manner of speaking, and would often conclude his remarks with a little shake of the head that caused his cheeks to wobble) but they liked and respected him, and they fully believed in most of the things he said. "Any play deserves the best that any actor has to give," he'd told them once, and another time: "Remember this. We're not just putting on a play here. We're establishing a community theater, and that's a pretty important thing to be doing."

The trouble was that from the very beginning they had been afraid they would end by making fools of themselves, and they had compounded that fear by being afraid to admit it. At first their rehearsals had been held on Saturdays--always, it seemed, on the kind of windless February or March afternoon when the sky is white, the trees are black, and the brown fields and hummocks of the earth lie naked and tender between curds of shriveled snow. The Players, coming out of their various kitchen doors and hesitating for a minute to button their coats or pull on their gloves, would see a landscape in which only a few very old, weathered houses seemed to belong; it made their own homes look as weightless and impermanent, as foolishly misplaced as a great many bright new toys that had been left outdoors overnight and rained on. Their automobiles didn't look right either--unnecessarily wide and gleaming in the colors of candy and ice cream, seeming to wince at each splatter of mud, they crawled apologetically down the broken roads that led from all directions to the deep, level slab of Route Twelve. Once there the cars seemed able to relax in an environment all their own, a long bright valley of colored plastic and plate glass and stainless steel--KING KONE, MOBILGAS, SHOPORAMA, EAT--but eventually they had to turn off, one by one, and make their way up the winding country road that led to the central high school; they had to pull up and stop in the quiet parking lot outside the high-school auditorium.

"Hi!" the Players would shyly call to one another.

"Hi! . . ." "Hi! . . ." And they'd go reluctantly inside.

Clumping their heavy galoshes around the stage, blotting at their noses with Kleenex and frowning at the unsteady print of their scripts, they would disarm each other at last with peals of forgiving laughter, and they would agree, over and over, that there was plenty of time to smooth the thing out. But there wasn't plenty of time, and they all knew it, and a doubling and redoubling of their rehearshal schedule seemed only to make matters worse. Long after the time had come for what the director called "really getting this thing off the ground; really making it happen," it remained a static, shapeless, inhumanly heavy weight; time and again they read the promise of failure in each other's eyes, in the apologetic nods and smiles of their parting and the spastic haste with which they broke for their cars and drove home to whatever older, less explicit promises of failure might lie in wait for them there.

And now tonight, with twenty-four hours to go, they had somehow managed to bring it off. Giddy in the unfamiliar feel of make-up and costumes on this first warm evening of the year, they had forgotten to be afraid: they had let the movement of the play come and carry them and break like a wave; and maybe it sounded corny (and what if it did?) but they had all put their hearts into their work. Could anyone ever ask for more than that?

The audience, arriving in a long clean serpent of cars the following night, were very serious too. Like the Players, they were mostly on the young side of middle age, and they were attractively dressed in what the New York clothing stores describe as Country Casuals. Anyone could see they were a better than average crowd, in terms of education and employment and good health, and it was clear too that they considered this a significant evening. They all knew, of course, and said so again and again as they filed inside and took their seats, that The Petrified Forest was hardly one of the world's great plays. But it was, after all, a fine theater piece with a basic point of view that was every bit as valid today as in the thirties ("Even more valid," one man kept telling his wife, who chewed her lips and nodded, seeing what he meant; "even more valid, when you think about it"). The main thing, though, was not the play itself but the company--the brave idea of it, the healthy, hopeful sound of it: the birth of a really good community theater right here, among themselves. This was what had drawn them, enough of them to fill more than half the auditorium, and it was what held them hushed and tense in readiness for pleasure as the house lights dimmed.

The curtain went up on a set whose rear wall was still shaking with the impact of a stagehand's last-minute escape, and the first few lines of dialogue were blurred by the scrape and bang of accidental offstage noises. These small disorders were signs of a mounting hysteria among the Laurel Players, but across the foot-lights they seemed only to add to a sense of impending excellence. They seemed to say, engagingly: Wait a minute; it hasn't really started yet. We're all a little nervous here, but please bear with us. And soon there was no further need for apologies, for the audience was watching the girl who played the heroine, Gabrielle.

Her name was April Wheeler, and she caused the whispered word "lovely" to roll out over the auditorium the first time she walked across the stage. A little later there were hopeful nudges and whispers of "She's good," and there were stately nods of pride among the several people who happened to know that she had attended one of the leading dramatic schools of New York less than ten years before. She was twenty-nine, a tall ash blonde with a patrician kind of beauty that no amount of amateur lighting could distort, and she seemed ideally cast in the role. It didn't even matter that bearing two children had left her a shade too heavy in the hips and thighs, for she moved with the shyly sensual grace of maidenhood; anyone happening to glance at Frank Wheeler, the round-faced, intelligent-looking young man who sat biting his fist in the last row of the audience, would have said he looked more like her suitor than her husband.

"Sometimes I can feel as if I were sparkling all over," she was saying, "and I want to go out and do something that's absolutely crazy, and marvelous . . ."

Backstage, huddled and listening, the other actors suddenly loved her. Or at least they were prepared to love her, even those who had resented her occasional lack of humility at rehearsals, for she was suddenly the only hope they had.

The leading man had come down with a kind of intestinal flu that morning. He had arrived at the theater in a high fever, insisting that he felt well enough to go on, but five minutes before curtain time he had begun to vomit in his dressing room, and there had been nothing for the director to do but send him home and take over the role himself. The thing happened so quickly that nobody had time to think of going out front to announce the substitution; a few of the minor actors didn't even know about it until they heard the director's voice out there in the lights, speaking the familiar words they'd expected to hear from the other man. He was doing his fervent best and delivering each line with a high semi-professional finish, but there was no denying that he looked all wrong in the part of Alan Squiers--squat and partly bald and all but unable to see without his glasses, which he'd refused to wear on stage. From the moment of his entrance he had caused the supporting actors to interrupt each other and forget where to stand, and now in the middle of his important first-act speech about his own futility--"Yes, brains without purpose; noise without sound; shape without substance--" one of his gesturing hands upset a glass of water that flooded the table. He tried to cover it with a giggle and a series of improvised lines--"You see? That's how useless I am. Here, let me help you wipe it up--" but the rest of the speech was ruined. The virus of calamity, dormant and threatening all these weeks, had erupted now and spread from the helplessly vomiting man until it infected everyone in the cast but April Wheeler.

"Wouldn't you like to be loved by me?" she was saying.

"Yes, Gabrielle," said the director, gleaming with sweat. "I should like to be loved by you."

"You think I'm attractive?"

Under the table the director's leg began to jiggle up and down on the spring of its flexed foot. "There are better words than that for what you are."

"Then why don't we at least make a start at it?"

She was working alone, and visibly weakening with every line. Before the end of the first act the audience could tell as well as the Players that she'd lost her grip, and soon they were all embarrassed for her. She had begun to alternate between false theatrical gestures and a white-knuckled immobility; she was carrying her shoulders high and square, and despite her heavy make-up you could see the warmth of humiliation rising in her face and neck.

Then came the bouncing entrance of Shep Campbell, the burly young red-haired engineer who played the gangster, Duke Mantee. The whole company had worried about Shep from the beginning, but he and his wife Milly, who had helped with the props and the publicity, were such enthusiastic and friendly people that nobody'd had the heart to suggest replacing him. The result of this indulgence now, and of Campbell's own nervous guilt about it, was that he forgot one of his key lines, said others in a voice so quick and faint that it couldn't be heard beyond the sixth row, and handled himself less like an outlaw than an obliging grocery clerk, bobbing head, rolled-up sleeves and all.

At intermission the audience straggled out to smoke and wander in uncomfortable groups around the high-school corridor, examining the high-school bulletin board and wiping damp palms down their slim-cut trousers and their graceful cotton skirts. None of them wanted to go back and go through with the second and final act, but they all did.

And so did the Players, whose one thought now, as plain as the sweat on their faces, was to put the whole sorry business behind them as fast as possible. It seemed to go on for hours, a cruel and protracted endurance test in which April Wheeler's performance was as bad as the others, if not worse. At the climax, where the stage directions call for the poignance of the death scene to be punctuated with shots from outside and bursts from duke's Tommy gun, Shep Campbell timed his bursts so sloppily, and the answering off-stage gunfire was so much too loud, that all the lovers' words were lost in a deafening smoky shambles. When the curtain fell at last it was an act of mercy.

The applause, not loud, was conscientiously long enough to permit two curtain calls, one that caught all the Players in motion as they walked to the wings, turned back and collided with one another, and another that revealed the three principals in a brief tableau of human desolation: the director blinking myopically, Shep Campbell looking appropriately fierce for the first time all evening, April Wheeler paralyzed in a formal smile.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Introduction

“A deft, ironic, beautiful novel that deserves to be a classic.”
—William Styron

The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group's discussion of Richard Yates's acclaimed 1961 novel, Revolutionary Road.

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Foreword

1. What is the significance of the novel's title, Revolutionary Road? In what ways might it be read as an ironic commentary on mid-twentieth century American values?

2. Why does Yates begin the novel with the story of the play? In what ways does it set up some of the themes—disillusionment, self-deception, play-acting, etc.—that are developed throughout the novel?

3. Frank rails about the middle-class complacency of his neighbors in the Revolutionary Hill Estates. “It's as if everybody'd made this tacit agreement to live in a state of total self-deception. The hell with reality! Let's have a whole bunch of cute little winding roads and cute little houses painted white and pink and baby blue; let's all be good consumers and have a lot of Togetherness and bring our children up in a bath of sentimentality . . . and if old reality ever does pop out and say Boo we'll all get busy and pretend it never happened” [pp. 68-69]. Is Frank's critique of suburbia accurate? In what ways does Frank himself live in a state of self-deception? Why can he see so clearly the self-deception of others but not his own?

4. What ironies are involved in Frank going to work for the same firm his father worked for? What is Frank's attitude toward his job and the fact that he's walking in his father's footsteps?

5. Describing a Negro couple holding hands at the mental hospital where John Givings has been confined, the narrator writes that “it wasn't easy to identify the man as a patient until you noticed that his other hand was holding the chromium leg of the table in a yellow-knuckled grip of desperation, as if it were the rail of a heavingship” [p. 296]. What do such precise and vivid physical descriptions—often highly metaphorical—add to the texture of the novel? Where else does Yates use such descriptions to reveal a character's emotional state?

6. Revolutionary Road frequently—and seamlessly—moves between past and present, as characters drift in and out of reveries. (April's childhood memory [pp. 321-326] is a good example). What narrative purpose do these reveries serve? How do they deepen the reader's understanding of the inner lives of the main characters?

7. What roles do Frank's affair with Maureen and April's sexual encounter with Shep play in the outcome of the novel? Are they equivalent? What different motivations draw Frank and April to commit adultery?

8. Twice Frank talks April out of an abortion, and both times he later regrets having done so, admitting that he didn't want the children any more than she did. What motivates him to argue so passionately against April aborting her pregnancies? What methods does he use to persuade her? Is John Givings right in suggesting that it's the only way he can prove his manhood?

9. What role does John Givings play in the novel? Why is he such an important character, even though he appears in only two scenes? How does he move the action along?

10. How do Frank and April feel about Shep and Milly Campbell? What do they reveal about themselves in their attitudes toward their closest friends?

11. Before she gives herself a miscarriage, April leaves a note telling Frank not to blame himself if anything should happen to her. But is he to blame for April's death? Why, and to what extent, might he be responsible?

12. The narrator writes, after April's death, that “The Revolutionary Hill Estates had not been designed to accommodate a tragedy” [p. 339]. In what ways is the novel tragic? What tragic flaws might be ascribed to both Frank and April? Why are the Revolutionary Hill Estates ill-suited to tragedy?

13. What is Yates suggesting by the fact that the only character in the novel who sees and speaks the truth has been confined to an insane asylum? Does John Givings's‚ outsider status give him the freedom to speak the truth, or has his natural tendency toward telling the truth, however unpleasant it might be, landed him in a mental hospital?

14. Near the end of the novel, the narrator says of Nancy Brace, as she listens to Milly's retelling of April's death: “She liked her stories neat, with points, and she clearly felt there were too many loose ends in this one” [p. 345]. What is the problem with wanting stories to be “neat”? In what ways does Revolutionary Road circumvent this kind of overly tidy or moralistic reading? Does the novel itself present too many “loose ends”?

15. The novel ends with Mrs. Givings chattering on to her husband about how “irresponsible” and “unwholesome” the Wheelers were. What is the significance, for the novel as a whole, of the final sentences: “But from there on Howard Givings heard only a welcome, thunderous sea of silence. He had turned off his hearing aid”? [p. 355]. What symbolic value might be assigned to the plant that Mrs. Givings mentions at the end of the novel?

16. Revolutionary Road was first published in 1961. In what ways does it reflect the social and psychological realities of that period? In what ways does it anticipate and illuminate our own time?

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Reading Group Guide

1. What is the significance of the novel's title, Revolutionary Road? In what ways might it be read as an ironic commentary on mid-twentieth century American values?

2. Why does Yates begin the novel with the story of the play? In what ways does it set up some of the themes—disillusionment, self-deception, play-acting, etc.—that are developed throughout the novel?

3. Frank rails about the middle-class complacency of his neighbors in the Revolutionary Hill Estates. “It's as if everybody'd made this tacit agreement to live in a state of total self-deception. The hell with reality! Let's have a whole bunch of cute little winding roads and cute little houses painted white and pink and baby blue; let's all be good consumers and have a lot of Togetherness and bring our children up in a bath of sentimentality . . . and if old reality ever does pop out and say Boo we'll all get busy and pretend it never happened” [pp. 68-69]. Is Frank's critique of suburbia accurate? In what ways does Frank himself live in a state of self-deception? Why can he see so clearly the self-deception of others but not his own?

4. What ironies are involved in Frank going to work for the same firm his father worked for? What is Frank's attitude toward his job and the fact that he's walking in his father's footsteps?

5. Describing a Negro couple holding hands at the mental hospital where John Givings has been confined, the narrator writes that “it wasn't easy to identify the man as a patient until you noticed that his other hand was holding the chromium leg of the table in a yellow-knuckled grip of desperation, as if it were the rail of a heaving ship” [p. 296]. What do such precise and vivid physical descriptions—often highly metaphorical—add to the texture of the novel? Where else does Yates use such descriptions to reveal a character's emotional state?

6. Revolutionary Road frequently—and seamlessly—moves between past and present, as characters drift in and out of reveries. (April's childhood memory [pp. 321-326] is a good example). What narrative purpose do these reveries serve? How do they deepen the reader's understanding of the inner lives of the main characters?

7. What roles do Frank's affair with Maureen and April's sexual encounter with Shep play in the outcome of the novel? Are they equivalent? What different motivations draw Frank and April to commit adultery?

8. Twice Frank talks April out of an abortion, and both times he later regrets having done so, admitting that he didn't want the children any more than she did. What motivates him to argue so passionately against April aborting her pregnancies? What methods does he use to persuade her? Is John Givings right in suggesting that it's the only way he can prove his manhood?

9. What role does John Givings play in the novel? Why is he such an important character, even though he appears in only two scenes? How does he move the action along?

10. How do Frank and April feel about Shep and Milly Campbell? What do they reveal about themselves in their attitudes toward their closest friends?

11. Before she gives herself a miscarriage, April leaves a note telling Frank not to blame himself if anything should happen to her. But is he to blame for April's death? Why, and to what extent, might he be responsible?

12. The narrator writes, after April's death, that “The Revolutionary Hill Estates had not been designed to accommodate a tragedy” [p. 339]. In what ways is the novel tragic? What tragic flaws might be ascribed to both Frank and April? Why are the Revolutionary Hill Estates ill-suited to tragedy?

13. What is Yates suggesting by the fact that the only character in the novel who sees and speaks the truth has been confined to an insane asylum? Does John Givings's‚ outsider status give him the freedom to speak the truth, or has his natural tendency toward telling the truth, however unpleasant it might be, landed him in a mental hospital?

14. Near the end of the novel, the narrator says of Nancy Brace, as she listens to Milly's retelling of April's death: “She liked her stories neat, with points, and she clearly felt there were too many loose ends in this one” [p. 345]. What is the problem with wanting stories to be “neat”? In what ways does Revolutionary Road circumvent this kind of overly tidy or moralistic reading? Does the novel itself present too many “loose ends”?

15. The novel ends with Mrs. Givings chattering on to her husband about how “irresponsible” and “unwholesome” the Wheelers were. What is the significance, for the novel as a whole, of the final sentences: “But from there on Howard Givings heard only a welcome, thunderous sea of silence. He had turned off his hearing aid”? [p. 355]. What symbolic value might be assigned to the plant that Mrs. Givings mentions at the end of the novel?

16. Revolutionary Road was first published in 1961. In what ways does it reflect the social and psychological realities of that period? In what ways does it anticipate and illuminate our own time?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 210 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 210 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    My New Favorite!

    This book caught my eye this past summer when I was browsing through B&N. At 15, a book about broken marriage is not exactly my usual cup of tea, yet there was something about the story that intrigued me. Well, that, and the fact that Leo DiCaprio was in the film version. (:
    I definitely did not go into reading this novel with high hopes. Hell, I wasn't even expecting to get through the whole thing. But man, was I wrong! Since buying it in August, I've read it three times - and I never re-read books! Ever. That, my friends, is how totally awesome it is.
    What was so completely fantastic about Revolutionary Road was the characters. Everything about them was so real - so scarily real, even, that I kind of felt like I was reading a book about myself...(Note to eye-rolling adults: Yeah, I may only be 15, but I could still relate to April and Frank in a surprising number of ways. So ha.) Anywho. The two main characters, Frank and April, aren't exactly likable folks. In fact, they're both pretty messed up and kind of annoying at times. And yet you couldn't help but feel bad for them, sympathize with them, and even root for their happiness as the novel went on. I know alot of people hated April, but I actually preferred her to Frank.
    In addition to the amazing characters, the writing is absolutely exquisite. Yates did a fantastic job with writing a natural dialogue and describing emotions and surroundings without whipping out some annoyingly impressive vocabulary. By the end of the novel, not only was I crying my eyes out, (Yeah, so there's a piece of advice for ya: Have tissues on hand.) but I was also wishing I could write something that touching and, well, freaking amazing.
    After reading it, I sprinted my butt off down to the Blockbuster to rent the film. Sadly, it was not nearly as good as the book - as is often times the case. The performances were great, but there was just something missing that I couldn't quite put my finger on. However, if you're lazy and aren't a fan of reading, I suggest you watch the movie. It's pretty much spot on plotwise, though not as nearly emotionally devastating. Or, at least, that's my opinion.

    So yeah, I'm going to stop blabbering now, as most people have probably already skipped to the next review anyways...All and all, Revolutionary Road is now one of my favorite books and has earned its own permanent spot on my bookshelf. I highly reccommend it!

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2008

    Great Period Piece

    This is a very moving story that reflects the attitudes of the 'fifties' realistically but one that transends time and can be meaningful to anyone in today's world. The plot is powerful in that it deals with the economical, social and emotional impacts of the era from the point of view of both women and men. Its a wonderful read and hopefully will be a great movie with Winslett and DeCaprio playing April and Frank.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    So These Were the 'Happy Days'??

    Many critics believe Richard Yates to be one of the most overlooked--but best--author of the 20th century, and it's easy to see why in this well-written and perceptive study of a couple of intellectually snobbish New Yorkers who, for reasons not entirely of their own choosing, are forced to move into 'tickey tackey' conformist suburbia. The husband commutes and the wife stays home and keeps house; this was 1955, years before anyone thought of feminism as anything other than the suffragist movement. Most of the story takes place through husband Frank's perspective, and at age 30 he is proof that a man can have a midlife crisis at any age. He unwillingly takes a job with a large, IBM-like company to support the family and discovers, much to his horror and fascination, that he actually likes this work. But things are not going well at home. His wife April resents the time he spends in Manhattan, and not without reason. Yates doesn't often leave Frank's point-of-view but when he does, as when relating a fight between Richard and April, he cross-cuts so dextrously as to lend a whole new insight to the term 'battle of the sexes.' I reallly liked this book. I would hazard a guess that it appeared to be more existentially bleak when it was published in the early Sixties than it does today, when it can be put under a microscope and examined sociologically, warts and all. But it's a good read no matter what stance you take and you will, I bet, sympathize with at least one of the characters in it.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2001

    A painfully honest look at 1950s suburbia

    Written in 1961, Mr. Yate's book is a piercingly clear, honest look at the lives of a couple in suburban Connecticut who are so caught up in their selfishness and self-aggrandizing lifestyle, that they fail to see their life crumbling around them. The writing is so honest at times that one wonders why all authors can't write this way. Highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2000

    Incredible

    Not only is this book well-written and eye-catching, it explores in depth the relationship between a husband and wife, their roles in society, and the devastating effect of unfulfilled wishes. It is one of the most overlooked books of the 20th century.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    God but sad

    Loved the book but not a happy feel good novel if that is what you are looking for

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Phenomenal

    This is not a feel good book, so keep moving if that's what you are looking for. It is a very dark, unforgiving reflection on life and marriage that speaks very honestly to the way we live. Yates makes no heros out of anyone, all the characters are flawed and so real. And the movie is the best film adaptation I've seen; Dicapprio and Winslet could not have delivered a better performance.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Boring!

    I read this book because it was on my TBR list & because my book club was reading it. I couldn't even finish it in time to join in on the discussion. I don't recommend it & have no desire to see the movie.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    Pulls at the heart strings

    Richard Yates originally published this book in 1961. It was his first book and was a book award winner, for good reason. Revolutionary Road is poignant and relatable. The characters are well developed and human. It touches the heart and left me examining those times in my life when the mundane sets in and the draw of escape and adventure tugs so hard it can rip your life into unexpected dimensions...not all of which are as you imagined, as in this book. This book clearly showcases the thoughts and emotions that drive our critical moments of decision as we consider a change in direction. A great read for those interested in human nature and for those who are contemplating change. It may provide you with the impetus to jump or with renewed appreciation to remain where you are.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    didn't enjoy

    i really didn't enjoy this book. It was dark, depressing and too wordy. I have no idea how they could possibly make a movie from it.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Revolutionary Road - the book is better than the movie!

    I read this book a year before the movie came out and absolutely loved it. Classic in its descriptions, timeless in its content, Revolutionary Road is a suburban legend. While observing the lives of Frank and April Wheeler, Yates captures the essence of realism and hopefulness characteristic of the post World War II American flight to suburbia. Probably many of the themes and character dynamics could be applied to today as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Very hard to stay with it

    I was halfway through and put it down. It took weeks of reading a few pages at a time to get through. I usually read a book in a couple of days.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2009

    Just Wonderful

    I read this book because the movie was coming out. I finished it in one sitting. It was so gripping, and the characters are so real you begin to think that you're one of them. I was worried that the movie wasn't going to be as good because how could anyone put this piece of art into film and retain all of its wonder? The movie was dead on the book, as if I was reading it all over again. Highly recommended!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    AMAZING BOOK

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The characters are well developed, and the plot is interesting and makes you step back and look at your life. For those that say that it is about shallow people, I have to disagree. The characters in this book are dynamic, and have understandable values. Yes, Frank needs to get a hold on his temper, and April needs to learn to talk about her feelings and not make such rash decisions, but that certainly doesn't make them shallow. This book was definetely riveting and definetely moving. Yes, it is depressing, so if you're looking for a bright, sunny, happy book, then you probably shouldn't read this. And, contrary to what some people are saying, this book is not boring. It is definetely worth your time to read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012

    Very good.

    Not usually my genre and not exactly a page turner, but still very well written. If you're a girl who either married or considers ever getting married, don't read this. Otherwise, sure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2011

    Sorry

    I know this supposed to be a classic of some sort but I didnt like it. End felt like hurry I only have a few more pages to wrap it up. Sorry dont mean to be rude.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Revolutionary, Indeed.

    I've always had a great interest in the culture of 1950's & 1960's society, so naturally I was drawn to this novel's setting. It was until my roommate told me that I had to read the novel before we could rent the film featuring Leo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet. I was a little hesitant to read the novel, thinking it was going to be a melodrama about all the unrest among the beginnings of American suburbia. However, this book was absolutely remarkable. Though the protagonists, Frank & April, were riddled with discontent within the simple-minded people and society of suburbia and 1950's NYC workplace - contrary to society's "Cult of Domesticity." Yates, the author, lays underneath the story on the surface a deeper meaning that many people were yearning for at this time. Many taboo issues, such as abortion and adultery, are addressed in this novel.
    Overall, I am very happy that I had read this novel - well worth the $7.99 :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    Great snapshot of the time

    While Revolutionary Road wasn't a book that changed my life or altered my perception on it, it was a good read and a good alternative to the common view that the 50s were ultra-idyllic, happy nuclear family times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Revolutionary Road

    This book was pretty anti-climatic. I felt like I knew what was going to happen a couple of chapters in. I thought it was a very mono-tone book. I did not care for the writing style. I recommend skipping the book and going directly to the theatre to see the movie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2013

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    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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