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CWL Book Chain Reviews – Revolutionary Road

Our inaugural CWL Book Chain (via email) has ended for this year with two groups (Mandarin and Tangerine) reading a total of six books they self-nominated. Keep in mind not everyone read all the books so there will be more reviews for some books than others. Here are the reviews from the Mandarin Book Chain for Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. Our next email book chain will start next year.

From Mandarin 1:
A portrait of the artifice of American suburban life in the '50's.Told through Frank Wheeler, a selfish and insecure man who has a deep investment in maintaining his male status quo. Frustrated, Frank with his wife, April and two children move to suburban Connecticut. As a temporary measure, Frank takes a job that is dull due to his belief that he is destined for an extraordinary creative life. How and when? He's not quite sure although April may have the solution… I really thought this novel was very well written. It's a familiar theme similar to movies like “American Beauty” and the TV show “Mad Men” in which hysterical housewives and angry suburban men dream of escaping while simultaneously protecting their fragile stability. However, the confronting “honesty” that Yates is recognised for does not allow the reader to sit back and enjoy an ultimate moral conviction. We find the novel judging our own harmonious reality and the role of chance. There are those who may view this theme depressing. However the well developed characters, the astonishing understanding of human nature that is sometimes portrayed with cynicism and Yates refusal to let sentiment seep in will capture the reader in a novel that is utterly absorbing. A very memorable performance.

Mandarin 2:
This is so well written and timely for today as people search for meaning in life. It is subtle and an insider's study of a couple, and their neighbours and striving for a life less ordinary. I can see some would say it is bleak but it reminds us about what makes us happy and reminds us to be be grateful for what you have.

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