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Revolutionary Road (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries)
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The rediscovery and rejuvenation of Richard Yates's 1961 novel Revolutionary Road is due in large part to its continuing emotional and moral resonance for an early 21st-century readership. April and Frank Wheeler are a young, ostensibly thriving couple living with their two children in a prosperous Connecticut suburb in the mid-1950s. However, like the characters in John Updike's similarly themed Couples, the self-assured exterior masks a creeping frustration at their inability to feel fulfilled in their relationships or careers. Frank is mired in a well-paying but boring office job and April is a housewife still mourning the demise of her hoped-for acting career. Determined to identify themselves as superior to the mediocre sprawl of suburbanites who surround them, they decide to move to France where they will be better able to develop their true artistic sensibilities, free of the consumerist demands of capitalist America. As their relationship deteriorates into an endless cycle of squabbling, jealousy and recriminations, their trip and their dreams of self-fulfillment are thrown into jeopardy.

Yates's incisive, moving, and often very funny prose weaves a tale that is at once a fascinating period piece and a prescient anticipation of the way we live now. Many of the cultural motifs seem quaintly dated--the early-evening cocktails, Frank's illicit lunch breaks with his secretary, the way Frank isn't averse to knocking April around when she speaks out of turn--and yet the quiet desperation at thwarted dreams reverberates as much now as it did years ago. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel conveys, with brilliant erudition, the exacting cost of chasing the American dream. --Jane Morris,

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.

Customer Reviews:

  • "OUR kind of people..."
    Frank and April Wheeler are a young couple who have a comfortable life in a lovely suburb. They go about their business - Frank hating his job in the city and April wishing she had become an actress or at least something more dramatic than a housewife - with public smiles and private despair.

    Richard Yates' novel is absolutely wonderful; it's a witty, snarky, and poignant look at 50's suburbia, where everything looks so good but underneath, where it really counts, people are unfulfilled and bitter. His characters' dialogue is straight out of Father Knows Best, while their thoughts are stunningly raw and brutal. I heartily recommend this book; its slim plot and scant action allow for subtly powerful and haunting passions....more info
  • the 50s were not that revolutionary
    This book has not held up well over time. For one thing, the dialog may have been appropriate in the 50's, but today it sounds dated, with questions like "Are you sore at me?" and sentences frequently ending with "you see?". The subject matter is a little offbeat also. Frank and April are a young married couple with two children and consider themselves far too interesting to be living a conventional life in the suburbs. We're supposed to believe that April's unhappy childhood has rendered her incapable of love and that Frank's boring job is just a way station on the road to bigger and better things. To reach their true potential, April cooks up a half-baked plan to move to Europe, where April will be the breadwinner doing clerical work and Frank will have a chance to find himself. If this sounds to you like something that only artists or writers would do, then join the club--so do their friends and neighbors. Frank does, however, have the gift of gab, and a marketing flyer that he dictates off the cuff grabs the attention of a company executive, making the move seem less desirable. I'm not sure if there's a point being made here, but the book implies that hurtful words tossed out in a moment of anger produce dire consequences for this couple. They just did not seem real to me, but I'll bet that Kate and Leo bring them to life on the big screen.
    ...more info
  • Pathetic, Interesting Characters Load with Irony
    What an interesting portrait of 1950s suburban America. I was not sure about how I would like this novel while I was reading the first chapter- the writing was a little slow, the story seemed choppy. However, it moved along quite nicely from there.

    This book is loaded with irony- the main characters April & Frank Wheeler fancy themselves well above the surroundings they found themselves in, yet fail to see how well entrenched they are in the life they claim to despise. This couple's relationship is dysfunctional at best, and again, this does not make them much different than many of their neighbors. I tried to have some sympathy towards them, and on occasion I thought it might be possible, but April and Frank always ended up falling flat.

    I would recommend this novel, and will likely end up reading some more of Yate's work as he seemed to have a good grasp on the intricacies of relationships. The end of the novel here is predictable, and the only reason I gave this book a 4 star review....more info
  • HATED it!
    This book is filled with evocative prose that evokes tedious, boring, mundane, desperately unfulfilled life in 50's suburbia. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to read it....more info
  • Revolutionary Road
    A wonderful writer...story is auto-biographical which helps because it is otherwise uninteresting and dull. The two stars are for the writing, not the story. Yates was 35 when he wrote this and had such insight into his male characters. Not much with females, but then it was the 50's...and he was a male! The movie, I am told, ends quite differently. Even so, I don't think I'll bother seeing it....more info
  • Disturbing with unlikeable characters
    Frank and April Wheeler seem to me self centered characters, so much so I don't have much sympathy for their problems. The book was plain disturbing and the ending horrible--supposedly there were psychological underlying causes stemming from the couple's childhoods (which were described) but no reason for April's desperate act at the end of the book. Also, the ending had the main character Frank disappear from the narrative and there is no knowing what becomes of him after what happens to April. I also think the two were very vapid and I didn't see anything sympathetic about either. The lack of morality or any humanity of the couple was just plain jarring....more info
  • A Novel Menagerie's Perspective on REVOLUTIONARY ROAD
    Revolutionary Road is a story that brings forth the broken lives and deserted dreams of a "regular couple" living in the suburbs of America in mid-1950. April and Frank Wheeler have a marriage that is based on, what, exactly? Fear? Obligation? Duty? Or, was it love? Did they love one another in the way that a married couple should? I'm not sure.

    This is the story of a young couple, Frank and April Wheeler, who move to "Suburbia" to live out the dream of the house, the kids, the yard, the neighbors. Frank commutes to the city via the train every day to work for a company that his father once worked for. He views the job as something much less than he ever wanted and has absolutely no passion for. Yet, like most parents whose choices are limited, he goes to work to collect that paycheck. April is a mother of two and a house maker, as were most in her day. April lands herself the lead in a local community theatre production of The Petrified Forest. Despite her good performance, the amateurish nature of the production (i.e. forgetting lines, sounds offstage, director stepping in for lead actor, etc.) left quite a bit to be desired. Frustrated and upset, April takes this "failure" too much to heart. As Frank takes her home, April displays the first of her emotional breakdowns that separate her from him. Frank does try hard to build the bridge back to her heart and April shuts him out.

    The reader is introduced to their neighbors, who are their friends. Through get-togethers with one another, the reader is led further into the minds of Frank and April. It is after one such social evening that April apparently decides that a major life change is in order for them each to find true happiness in their world. She decides to lift herself from her brooding depression and tell Frank that they should sell everything and move to France. There, she rationalizes, she will work at the Embassy and Frank can spend time really deciding what he wants to do for a living and be in this lifetime. With nothing to lose, Frank agrees. After all, on that very day, his 30th birthday, he had "hit his bottom" in both his career and marriage after sleeping with one of the secretaries from the office.

    Revolutionary Road is not only the name of the street they live on, but exactly what The Wheelers are on: a path of change. But, when the unexpected happens to them and dreams are once again shattered, events eclipse their renewed glimpse at happiness and closeness. It's how we deal with difficulty that defines our character and certainly Frank and April are not role models for dealing with disappointment.

    With Tennessee Williams being one of the "quoters" on the back cover, you know this book has some good substance to it. This book was first published in 1961 and was hailed to be a "modern American classic." Considering the date, this book was ahead of its time. It is expertly and precisely written with outstanding character development. You know The Wheelers, how they think and why they are broken inside without it being spelled out for you. You find joy in yourself when they are in moments of closeness and you find yourself rooting for them throughout the book.

    On Sher's "Out of Ten Scale:"

    I am glad that I read the book before I see the movie. I am a big fan of Kate Winslet's. I have posted a preview of the movie for y'all to see. I'm really looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. I think that Kate and Leo will bring April and Frank even more alive for me. Listen, the book isn't perfect and the story has considerable sadness to it, but it is a very good book despite all of that. I'm not making sense, I'm sure. This book is a tragedy, but one that is easily related to. For the genre Fiction: Drama, I'm giving Revolutionary Road an 8.5 out of 10 (not quite an eight... and, yet not quite strong enough for a 9).

    ...more info
  • Right wing loony opinion
    I am betrayed mildly by this rubbish. Too bad the author is dead; so that I now feel a little callous in writing this commentary. The book was very entertaining and surely Richard Yates characterizes like say Steinbeck or Austin. Throughout my reading (was a real page turner) I would think him a little feminine in his detailed characterizations. I wondered if he was in fact gay. So he was ahead of his time it would seem. Apparently Yates was writing during the wholesome 50's about enlightened people that were culturally superior to the suburban fakers in Revolutionary Road Estates. The woman (April) was the heroin. Frank with his macho name but cowardly soul was a (hetero-basher's) stereotypical straight guy, emasculated by his slavish false vain efforts to please our beloved heroin. Only she is completely self centered. She doesn't care to try to help Frank become more of a man. And in the end we find that Richard's wonderful work is nothing more than a case for Roe v Wade (albeit ahead of its time). What a fool (I am). Snookered. Don't you be a fool also. There is no room for a normal Christian in 2009. Maybe a few women have died with coat hanger abortions, but how many fetuses/babies have died inauspiciously via frivolous abortions. 5 million to one. And in the coat hanger case, it is about the poor little women; never about the fetuses/babies is it. As a man (not that unlike the despicable hetero-Frank) I would (pray to have the courage when the time came to) die for my kids. Logically and spiritually it is altogether fitting Richard. Screw April. I never liked the name April anyway; funny that Richard would use a low class name for his culturally superior little coat hanger victim.

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  • Careless People: A Comparison to "The Great Gatsby"
    After reading the last page of Richard Yates's "Revolutionary Road," I heard F. Scott Fitzgerald's disillusioned narrator, Nick Carraway, making his famous final judgment of Daisy and Tom: "They were careless people -- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made." Like Tom and Daisy, Frank and April Wheeler, the emotionally bankrupt protagonists of "Revolutionary Road," are nothing if not "careless."

    Even though "Revolutionary Road" is set in the 1950's instead of the 1920's, the similarities between it and "The Great Gatsby" are startling. In addition to centering on "careless people," both stories also include overly judgmental people, people who look down on others, believing themselves to be the only ones "painfully alive in a drugged and dying culture."

    For example, Nick, the narrator of "The Great Gatsby," criticizes Tom and Daisy for being "careless" and capable of "smash[ing] up things and creatures," but while it is easy to side with Nick's judgment of Tom and Daisy, believing they destroyed Gatsby, it is also true that Nick fails Gatsby, and that he, too, is capable of acting carelessly, smashing up the lives of others, especially of the woman he has an affair with and the girlfriend/fianc¨¦ he leaves behind in the Midwest.

    What's interesting about "Revolutionary Road" is that Yates combines both the "vast carelessness" of Tom and Daisy, and the hypercritical judgment of Nick in order to create Frank and April, a young, moderately talented married couple longing to rise above the "mediocrity" of "all these damn little suburban types." It's hard to empathize with Frank and April, as a result, for they are so selfishly preoccupied, so busy ignoring their children, making power plays with each other and trying to adopt an attitude of intellectual cynicism, that they fail to see the gifts they have right in front of them.

    Another similarity between "Revolutionary Road" and "The Great Gatsby" is the theme of fantasy vs. reality. For, much like Frank and April's relationship, Gatsby's relationship with Daisy is based on sheer fantasy: "He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire and freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart." Similarly, Frank marries April because he believes her to be the embodiment of all he has yet to achieve, because she is "an exceptionally first-rate girl."

    For her part, April (wanting her life to be as interesting and as full of adventure as her flapper mother and playboy father's lives were) tells Frank, "You're the most interesting person I've ever met," and promptly marries him. But Frank is not "interesting," even though he speaks endlessly about interesting things, and April is not "exceptional," although she has many attractive qualities. Yet they stubbornly refuse to see the truth, prefering instead to project onto each other all of the "fire and freshness" of their "ghostly heart[s]."

    In the end, one just feels sorry for Frank and April, for they tragically smash up others' lives, as well as their own, in a desperate attempt to achieve their idealistic, overly romantic dreams of a better life. ...more info
  • Timeless
    The story takes place in the 1950's but this couple could just as easily be in the suburbs of any major city in American today. Living where they live because it was what was expected at a certain stage... staying in a job he doesn't like... ending up a mother and homemaker when she never had either on her "to do" list... How many people with a "dream life" and happy family in the `burbs on the outside are really have the life of their dreams?...more info
  • An unforgettable book
    At first couple chapters I didn't think I would like this book, but I was glad I finished it. Mr. Yates is a master storyteller in making the seemingly tedious middle-class life in the 50' unfold like a breath taking stage opera. As the story goes along you get to resonate with what the author is trying to tell you by revealing Frank and Apple's lives, struggles, dreams, and the eventual sacrifices. It is a very strong book in the sense for retrospect, weaving with common life events and shocking incidents/choices one gets to make and experience. At some point I found it too tough to read on as I couldn't believe life can be this cruel, but in the end you know indeed this is just a life that happens everyday.

    The book will prompt you with a lot of thinking after you finish it. The writing is unique and skillful, sometimes even with a tone of humor given the depressed story itself. Like riding a roller coaster, you won't be disappointed by this book and certainly you won't forget it....more info
  • A Moving Portrait of Marriage and Family
    From the very beginning, this book drew me in. As I turned the first few pages, I could tell that something almost sinister was happening and I had to keep reading. April and Frank Wheeler appear as though they are a model couple, bright, ambitious in love, perfect family, but something is amiss. They feel as though they are better than their suburban neighbors and that fame and fortune are just around the corner. Neither part of this couple is happy with the choices he or she has made. April never wanted to be a housewife and mother; she never learned to like herself, so how can she possibly like anyone else? Frank is a chauvanistic pig of a man that plots out every part of his life, so he can fulfill his needs. This is a book about two people that thought they were better than everyone else and then slowly figured out that they were not.

    Not a word was out of place in this book. It is as relevant today as it was almost 50 years ago. Highly reccommended....more info
  • Depressing, but offers a lesson to learn
    Although the book was depressing I still liked it very much. The characters seemed very realistic, and I could understand how they thought. Frank was a very insecure yet loving husband, and April was just a profoundly unhappy and unsatisfied with her life woman who created a crisis out of nothing. I agree that they are both unlikable, especially April. To me she appeared as self-centered, narrow minded, and lacking any empathy for others. She seemed to believe in her own superiority and felt entitled to recognition. She craved it but didn't take much effort to earn it - why earn something you are entitled to? She tried to be an actress in her community, but gave up after the very first failure. How far can you go with an attitude like that? Then she got obsessed with an idea to move to Paris... I think she just expected that different people in Paris would see her differently and finally recognize her as someone special. Probably I could sympathize with her obsession if she was living somewhere in a little village in the middle of Alabama. But excuse me... She was living in a close proximity to Manhattan. She could pursue so many opportunities in NY City if only she wanted.
    I think personal tragedies like hers are not rare, and for me the book was just a great learning experience of how one's mind can destroy lives.
    ...more info
  • emotional & interesting
    I didn't expect as much as i got from this book. It really makes you take a look at the relationships in your life and not take anything for granted. ...more info
  • Not a great read.
    The book is well written. The story is a downer- leaves one with a bad taste in the mouth. This is not one of your feel good stories. In fact, I am rather sorry I read it.
    Does one want to be reminded of how easy it is to fail at life?
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  • Intelligent novel both depressing and absorbing
    In the mood to read a book about the disillusionment of dreams? Revolutionary Road plots the course of April and Frank, young adults fighting against conformity in their thoughts and dreams, while plugging away at a typical life through their actions - job, kids, and house. Convinced of their specialness, they scheme to change their circumstances and become the people they ought to be, but the late 50's of this setting, with cultural expectations and limited birth control, conspire against them. Author Richard Yates' descriptions were brilliant. He was particularly adept at bringing to life the workforce of this era. This well written book left me sad, with an ending that neutralized Frank's dreams and illustrated limited options available for women in this time. This book is well worth reading even though it in no way whitewashes the listlessness and misery of the characters. This novel is a stark portrayal of disappointment. Are you in the mood?...more info
    It's a very masterful and carefully observed account of a typical fifties marriage, the kind that trapped people into a goldfish bowl somewhere in the suburbs and wouldn't let them breathe. The minutely detailed account of the inner life of a young father with an office job in Manhattan contrasts with his wife's dashed dreams at home with the kids. ...more info
  • well written with one star
    I grew up in the 50s, so when I saw this book, I just had to read it. Although well written, it turned out to be the most boring book I've read in a long time. I wanted to care about the people, but didn't. I was waiting for the wittiness, but there was none. I need to care about the people & found that totally missing in this book. It's not the 50s I remember....more info
  • Best novel I've read in a long time
    I came to "Revolutionary Road" through the film. I had never heard of the novel but I really liked the film and knew I needed to read the book. The film gets at the same thing the novel did; the gap between the true and acted self. In the novel given that we can enter the characters' heads that theme is fleshed out much more successfully.

    The film's attention to the period piece elements was distracting; the cars, clothes, houses and television of the era. It made me feel that we condescended to these characters rather than identifed with them uncomfortably. That isn't the case with the novel. The characters and their search for who they are, what is a man, what is a woman, what is an educated person, what is a well-lived life are things we all have in common.

    These things are all social constructs that have been foisted upon us by our media-soaked world that markets us all so successfully that we are constantly on edge about how we put together a successful identity. When that identity is threatened or collapsed, we enter the abyss that the novel describes.

    The writing is so fresh and strong it doesn't seem dated. Yates writes a merciless book without likeable characters but they are believeable and ones that are in many ways just like us. He made me uncomfortable about my own identity; what is it made of? How strong is it? Why do we make our identity out of social detritus;from songs and clothes and possessions and positions? Most of all, I feel the book in my bones, in the despairing chasm between what I tell myself I am and what I'm afraid I might be....more info
  • Uncomfortable Indignities
    These characters were so miserable, and so unlikeable, I found myself anticipating at each new scene set-up what uncomfortable indignity would play out this time.

    The biggest literary crime was not just each individuals' lack of range (nearly every one judgmental, dishonest and insipid), but the uniformity of these unpleasant characteristics between the characters. Each one (at least up to 1/2 way through) clustered in the same literary space. Without a few noble souls to throw the self-indulgence into relief, the book was stifling.

    A depressing painting in monochrome blues and grays, is one thing, but a book is a linear journey through time for the reader, so the pain lasts and lasts. Unless you put it down -- which I did half way through....more info
  • Profound and painfully realistic
    I picked up Revolutionary Road as my commute read immediately after the joltingly abrupt end to my love affair with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Series. And so, Revolutionary Road became my rebound book. I couldn't have picked a book more different from Twilight.

    It took me awhile to get into the story and the characters. Yates' writing is carefully constructed and the storyline is well-structured. In other words, reading his words require some actual brain power. For instance, one of his writing techniques is to use lots of flashback to provide background information. It took me a few chapters before I got used to this style of storytelling; at first, I simply got lost.

    His main characters, Frank and April Wheeler, are painfully realistic. We all know at least one couple just like them. As an outside observer into their world, I constantly wanted to be their mediator, counselor, or friend. Their good intentions and love were so obvious to me, but not to them. I desperately wanted to help them, but all I could do was helplessly continue reading about their hapless lives.

    The book isn't of the plot-driven variety. In fact, looking back on it, the plot is quite ordinary, reflective of any one of our lives. And that's the point. This is a story that could be about your next door neighbors.

    Much of the book seems timeless, but some parts of it are not. It is a book that could not be written in today's world with the same impact. It is set in 1955 and was published in 1961. It is interesting to see how the times have changed, and also, how they have not. I did not know exactly when the book was written when I began and found myself looking up the publication date before I reached the end.

    I recommend this book to adults who do not mind reading about painful realities. If you are looking for fast-paced or light-hearted entertainment, do not pick up this book. If you are looking for a thoughtful social commentary on America during the post World War II era, then I whole-heartedly recommend this book to you....more info
  • Is there such a thing as a happy marriage?
    Nothing written about this book can do justice to its brilliance. The most brutally honest portrayal of a marriage I've ever read. Honest to the point of painful. True in every nuance and detail. Dated only in the sense that it's true to its period, and yet, in a way, timeless and eternal, and universal too. At its core, this is a book about the difference between men and women and how they live and feel and work and love... A searing, heart-breaking, yet beautifully sustained realistic novel that will make you wonder if there's ever such a thing as a 'happy marriage' or even such a thing as 'marriage' itself. The things we say and do to one another, the ways in which we love and hate (often both at once), and the blurry rubbed-out line between sanity and madness, ambition and desperation, hope and hopelessness. Read it, then watch the equally fine film adaptation which rests squarely on the strong able shoulders of its sourcebook, then come back and read the book again....more info
  • The Road Less Taken
    What a great novel. Although written in 1961, it feels quite up to date and contemporary (although there are many quaint references to domestic suburban life that have almost become extinct - the bored housewife, the husband in the gray flannel suit, the two perfect little children, the wife greeting the husband at the door with a cocktail after a long day of being the breadwinner, the chain-smoking, more cocktails before dinner, and relaxing with the evening newspaper). Still, this isn't any Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, Brady Bunch kind of idealized vision of the middle-class American dream. No, the Wheelers think they are bohemians at heart and simply do not belong in the suburbs. Boy are they wrong. They are merely deluding themselves they are somehow superior to all the other middle-class suburban robotic people.

    The two main characters (Frank and April Wheeler) are very snobby, unlikeable people, but I think their condescending attitude towards their neighbors and even their own lives just adds to the impact of the book. It makes it easy to see that perhaps they are mistaken about a great many things. It was difficult to take their point of view on suburban life, which in my opinion, comes down to "If you hate it so much, why the heck don't you just leave?". I wanted to tell them to grow up and get real. Either live a middle-class lifestyle, or do not; but stop complaining about it, either way.

    If you liked the film "American Beauty", you may like this book. Lots of similarities. Incredibly well-written, engaging story. The actual writing is like poetry, it's that good. ...more info
  • Decent Book
    This was the first book that I had to read for one of my college classes, and when I read the description I honestly thought it was going to be just another novel that all the girls would like that guys just wouldn't be able to get into. To my surprise, the novel actually ended up becoming interested in the story as I read, and wanted to finish the book (something I have rarely found when reading assigned books). It is a pretty depressing book, and while reading it I despised every character (except for one or two minor characters) for one thing or another. I think Yates' writing style is really what did it for me and helped make the book as good as it is. Overall, I wouldn't say that it is anywhere near one of my favorite books, but definitely something worth reading....more info
  • Revolutionary road
    This is a novel that captures suburban angst before it became an idea embedded in our collective consciousness. I found it difficult to like any of the characters, although by the last quarter of the book I felt sympathy for how stuck they all seemed. It's well written. It's certainly worth a read. I haven't seen the movie and am not moved to by reading the book....more info
  • Revolutionary road
    This is a novel that captures suburban angst before it became an idea embedded in our collective consciousness. I found it difficult to like any of the characters, although by the last quarter of the book I felt sympathy for how stuck they all seemed. It's well written. It's certainly worth a read. I haven't seen the movie and am not moved to by reading the book....more info
    This book was so annoying. I don't understand all the high reviews. I wanted to jump in the book and strangle April. What a self-centered b***h. I will probably be stupid enough to rent the movie but only in the hopes they drastically change the story. ...more info