Saturday, July 2, 2011

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. It's the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April Wheeler mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves. (from back cover).

This is the rare case of having seen the movie before the book, which definitely influenced my read. Loving the movie version of Revolutionary Road (I might even say it's my all-time favorite movie), I had high expectations for the book, which were thankfully met. I enjoyed the story of Frank and April Wheeler (again) and loved experiencing it through a different medium.

I don't want to make this review about comparing the book and movie (I'll probably do a post on that later), but it's really weird trying to review a book that you know what happens. I'm going to try to pretend that I haven't seen the movie already and see how that goes.

Like the summary states above, Frank and April Wheeler are a couple who pretty much think they're better than everyone because they don't want to fall into the standard mold of suburban couple: nice house, 2.5 kids, white picket fence, etc. It's like The Great Gatsby in that it's the disillusionment of the American Dream, in the 1950's. Things start to go wrong, April and Frank are fighting, and then they start to see everything they ever wanted disappear. Revolutionary Road is from Frank's point-of-view, so you understand his side better and sympathize with him a little more (at least I did).

The writing in Revolutionary Road was easy to read, nice and smooth, just the right amount of narration, plot and dialogue. If you liked the movie, then you'll like the book, and vice versa. I also think that Revolutionary Road is a nice companion to The Great Gatsby and it's literary without being too heavy handed in symbolism and figurative language.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: Christmas gift.

1961/Vintage Contemporaries/355 pages.

1 comment:

Robby said...

I read this book a few months ago and loved it. I have yet to see the movie, which I have to change.