Book Review: "The Amateur Marriage" by Anne Tyler
5/5 - the breakdown of two insufferable people...
As you know, I'm going through a few binge-reads right now. First we had a big thing about Julian Barnes that came from my 16-year-old self knocking me on the head and telling me I could no longer ignore the 'B' modern fiction section of the library as that was where all his books were. I slowly worked through the ones I had not read yet (and re-read some of the ones I had!). Then I started on Louis de Bernieres, which when I had read Captain Corelli's Mandolin I was barely out of high school, and never picked him up again until now. Mainly because someone mentioned Birds Without Wings to me and I decided to get it read. Next came Amos Oz and that was because whilst at university, I remember him passing away and his last book was Judas, I found it insanely good but never really investigated anything else by him. Recently though, I think I've managed to read quite a bit of his works. Finally, there is Anne Tyler and she is probably one of the most wonderful writers out there today. Having read numerous novels by her, I think it is safe to say that modern literature has been in good hands and still is.
The Amateur Marriage is about two people in an Eastern European section of Baltimore in the 1940s - they are Michael and Pauline. They meet in a grocery store owned by Michael's family and as he is shot and wounded in the war, he is permanently sent back home. As they fall in love, they move in together where they find finally, that their personalities clash. Whilst he tries to control every aspect of life, she is a hopeless romantic. Where he is quiet and often taken aback with doubt and depression, she is loud and excited. However, they make the relationship work as they move into a house in the suburbs and have three children who are named: Lindy, George and Karen.
During the 1960s, this marriage hits a strange and strenuous point when raising the eldest child, Lindy. Lindy is a rebellious heart inspired by the spirit of her age whilst also being a tempermental pain in the ass - and so, as a teenager, she runs away from home and disappears into San Francisco. It will be almost ten years until Michael and Pauline are able to get Lindy's son back and have any kind of contact with her again. Both Michael and Pauline are incredibly accusatory to each other, each blaming the other for the reason that Lindy ran away in the first place when instead, the reader knows that the problem is not one of them, but the violence of both of them combined. An impossible household, it was clear from very early on that Lindy wanted to get out while she could.
As we approach the last part of the book in which the 30th anniversary takes place, we see this marriage spin way out of control and both of them admit that when they got married - they really had no idea what they were in for. Like their daughter Lindy, they acted on an impulse purely because they did not like the situation they were in at that moment in the 40s. But, it doesn't mean that the situation they get themselves into is going to be any better, it could be a whole lot worse. And it probably was.
"They were such a perfect couple. They were taking their very first steps on the amazing journey of marriage, and wonderful adventures were about to unfold in front of them."
This quotation here is especially cosy and that is what I will conclude this review with. The term wonderful adventures is up for debate.