Book Review: Revolutionary Road



Author:      Richard Yates

Publisher:  Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.


ISBN #:    978-0-375-70844

Type:        Fiction – Drama

Pages:     355


The Review

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).


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9 Responses

  1. Literate Housewife

    February 3rd, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Thank you for this great review. I saw the movie in Las Vegas and found it to be very, very depressing. I think that would have been different had I read the book first. I’ll be very interested in what you think of the movie. I went for Kate Winslet, but Leo Decaprio really stole the show for me, especially at the end.

    Literate Housewife’s last blog post..Three I Can’t Live Without

  2. Menagerie

    February 3rd, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Like I said, the book is a tragedy. There’s not a lot of positive things happening in the story… except for the beautiful moments of positive when love overcomes all obtacles in their lives.

    I can’t wait to see the movie and will write about it as soon as I do.

    Thanks for the comment, I just love your blog!

  3. Anna

    February 3rd, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Great review! This sounds like an interesting, though sad, story. I’d love to see the movie, but I’d probably read the book first. Looking forward to your thoughts after you see it.

    Anna’s last blog post..January Wrap-Up

  4. Jo-Jo

    February 3rd, 2009 at 6:33 am

    This does sound like a good book…I will probably wait to see the movie on dvd because those previews just look too depressing to me!

    Jo-Jo’s last blog post..Monday’s Movie-Gran Torino

  5. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit

    February 3rd, 2009 at 8:13 am

    I’ve been wanting to read this book. I love Williams’ works and his recommendations are something to take to heart!

    Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit’s last blog post..Mailbox Monday #15

  6. Darlene

    February 3rd, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Great review. I’d really like to read the book before seeing the movie. I love Winslet and DiCaprio together!

    Darlene’s last blog post..Book Review: The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash

  7. Nely

    February 3rd, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Great review. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while and would like to catch it before I see the movie.

    Nely’s last blog post..Confessions of a Shopoholic by Sophie Kinsella

  8. Alyce

    February 4th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I think I would have to be in the right mood to read this book or watch the movie. It sounds like it might be a little too sad for my tastes.

    Alyce’s last blog post..Nothing Right by Antonya Nelson – Review

  9. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates « Bibliojunkie

    December 30th, 2011 at 11:58 am

    […] A Novel Menagerie: 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. […]

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