Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates


I liked this book. I know I've said that of every book we've read so far, but then again, what did you expect? We did make the list ourselves, after all. But I liked the book, I liked the desperation in it.

The whole abhorrence the Wheelers feel towards the traditional cookie-cutter suburban life struck home to me. Especially the feelings of April, who longed for the life of "the golden people", where everything was effortless and easy. I fully related to that. Yet, what kept it interesting, was that the book was for most part from Franks point of view. And while Frank didn't like the suburban lifestyle any more, he was turning around to it, to a degree.

I think that's because he got away from it, to the work. He started, what with the new work opportunities, to find something to do that interested him, which in turn made the home life seem less of a drag. April didn't have that outlet. She was captivated into the life of a 50's housewife.

The opening of the book was a good introduction of what was to come. The attempt of a play and the following failure of it mirrored the life of the Wheelers. They too tried to do something different, to move to Europe, tried to be something else than who (or what) they were and it didn't work out in the end. Because they were who they are, just like the actors in the play were not actors, but simple ordinary folk.

There are so many levels in this book, that I'm still, few days after finishing it, struggling to summarize it into few clever paragraphs. Maddie, help me out here?


Looks like this is the first one we sort of disagree on! For I really didn't care that much for this one. I wanted to, but I just didn't. And the funniest thing is that it looks like the same reasons you liked this one for are the ones I didn't like. I for one hated the desperate athmosphere and the cynicism and the not being able to communicate with each other.

I guess ii you're having trouble with summarising it because, in my opinion, it was mostly about feeling and atmosphere, the tone of the book. Mostly it was about what was going on in the character's heads. That's why I think it's so hard to say anything really concrete about the book.

I think I might've been able to relate to it more if it was written from April's perspective. Now April to me seemed just a really annoying, whiny and moody, I just didn't get her, or her side of the story at all. Except in the ending. I think the ending was really good. That's where I really got the book and I think it was a great way to end the story, I don't think anything more upbeat or happier would've been believable.

And I have to say that the last few sentences sort of turned me around into liking the book. I just loved Mr. Givings and his hearing aid. Brilliant!!


I think I sort of didn't need for it to be from April's perspective, because for one, we've seen these "desperate housewife of the 50's" -stories (The Hours, for one) and for two, because I really related to her. As you know, Mads, that would have been my worst nightmare too, so in a way I was able to "fill in the blanks" when it came to how April felt and thought with my own emotions.

The last sentence was a gold nugget! It was funny, and yet it gave a final summary on the life of these people. You got along fine with your life, as long as you blocked out some, and lived in this self-imposed denial of the world around you. You just didn't pay attention.

Revolutionary Road was, in my mind, a book that touched upon some really painful and controversial, yet everyday issues, in a beautiful way and avoided preaching and also taking sides. It was left to the reader to draw up their own conclusions and make judgement, should such be necessary.

I really did like this one.

And I liked the fact that this got us 5 points in The 4 Months Challenge, under the criteria "read a book that's been made into a movie".

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