by John Updike


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“Trapped in their cozy catacombs, the couples have made sex by turns their toy, their glue, their trauma, their therapy, their hope, their frustration, their revenge, their narcotic, their main line of communication and their sole and pitiable shield against the awareness of death.”—Time

One of the signature novels of the American 1960s, Couples is a book that, when it debuted, scandalized the public with prose pictures of the way people live, and that today provides an engrossing epitaph to the short, happy life of the “post-Pill paradise.” It chronicles the interactions of ten young married couples in a seaside New England community who make a cult of sex and of themselves. The group of acquaintances form a magical circle, complete with ritualistic games, religious substitutions, a priest (Freddy Thorne), and a scapegoat (Piet Hanema). As with most American utopias, this one’s existence is brief and unsustainable, but the “imaginative quest” that inspires its creation is eternal.

Praise for Couples

Couples [is] John Updike’s tour de force of extramarital wanderlust.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Ingenious . . . If this is a dirty book, I don’t see how sex can be written about at all.”—Wilfrid Sheed, The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449911907
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/11/1996
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 570
Sales rank: 185,091
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.21(h) x 1.23(d)

About the Author

John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.

Date of Birth:

March 18, 1932

Date of Death:

January 27, 2009

Place of Birth:

Shillington, Pennsylvania

Place of Death:

Beverly Farms, MA


A.B. in English, Harvard University, 1954; also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford, England

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Excerpted from "Couples"
by .
Copyright © 1996 John Updike.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

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Couples 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Maria_of_amor More than 1 year ago
Updike makes the reader feel like a voyeur privy to the most intimate acts and discussions in the characters' lives. We are transported to the fictional New England town of Tarbox in the 60's and introduced to its suburban inhabitants. They have cocktail parties and play tennis and basketball and raise children and discuss politics, consumerism, gossip, and sex. Yet beyond its Peyton Place scenario, the characters are truly complex, searching for answers, happiness, joy, excitement, anything! Updike brilliantly blends literary prose and imagery with frank situations and absorbing dialogue to create a beautiful American portrait that is extraordinarily accurate. It satisifes the reader's quest for truth, drama, and philisophical stimulation. I have read this novel 3 times and become completely imersed and enthralled each time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plez update!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago liam broke up with me....
jburlinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At the end, the local church is struck by lightning. A judgment on wife swapping and cunnilingus? Or simply divine displeasure with the the marriage of portentousness with fecklessness?
raphaelmatto on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Extremely good. Insiteful in a mean way about marriage. Huge round characters with magnified faults. Earthy -- as in \"I am a powerful man.\" Can\'t stand the ending.
BinnieBee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book but I couldn't feel any sympathy for the characters!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Erza and raven or cc and jt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Derek and Alexis
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come to scarlet letter and role play
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey again found out to othe girls like me besides my gf an im not good at breaking hearts wat do i say/do