Many novels and films end in marriage, the apotheosis of a tumultuous and passionate love affair stretched over a couple of hundred pages. Jane Austen springs to mind here. Her pellucid prose paints a picture of ordinary people trying to figure out how to live with and love one another over a thirty-year period.
Literature and literary criticismFictionNovels. They call these women the Monicas. In their hiding place, Kath smokes defiantly while she breastfeeds, and they read in a nicely understated twist of self-reference short stories by Katherine Mansfield and D.
Sign up for our newsletters! She is known for her "typically American" tales that focus on the paradoxes in the lives of everyday people, who struggle with love, relationships, family, order and disorder. She rents the fabric most families hide behind as they try to mask the holes that threaten to tear apart the material that strains to keep them together.
Anne Tyler is a great writer and in a great rut. Though her considerable British following will pounce on The Amateur Marriage, only the hard core of fans, for whom she can do no wrong, will be satisfied. By the standards of her best work, the new novel is perfunctory.
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Because Tyler writes with scrupulous accuracy about muddled, unglamorous suburbanites, it is easy to underestimate her as a sort of Pyrex realist. Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class's Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn't share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed. Her latest novel delineates, in careful strokes, the year marriage of Michael Anton and Pauline Barclay, and its dissolution.
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What is noticeable about the narrative voice in the first chapter? Whose voice is this meant to be? How does the presence of Mrs.
Michael and Pauline seemed like the perfect couple - young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment she walked into his mother's grocery store in Baltimore, he was smitten, and in the heat of World War II fervour, they marry in haste. From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counter-culture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayers of later years, we watch their lives unspool and see the consequences of their very mismatched marriage.