Revolutionary Road, Paperback
5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Hailed as a masterpiece from its first publication, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright young couple who are bored by the banalities of suburban life and long to be extraordinary.

With heartbreaking compassion and clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April's decision to change their lives for the better leads to betrayal and tragedy.




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Review by

Richard Yates has been held in high regard by many literary critics for years now, but never seemed to make it through to the cultural mainstream. His deeply autobiographical first novel, Revolutionary Road, was optioned many times since its publication in 1961 but has only finally made it onto the silver screen.The Wheelers are a married, settled 1950s couple who are struggling with the slow death of their ambitions and hopes. On the surface they are conventional, with two children, friendly neighbours and roles in the local dramatic society. Frank works in the marketing department for a large business machines company, while Alice is a housewife. Gone are the days when they were a carefree couple living a post-war bohemian lifestyle. Instead they find themselves enclosed by work, children and society.A daring plan to move to France and rediscover a bohemian lifestyle initially unites the couple and brings them happiness and peace once again. However, their frustration and pettiness surfaces once again and threatens their future happiness once again. The portrait of Jack Wheeler is eerily brilliant, but I did think that the character of Alice Wheeler was porrly drawn by the author.This novel has been compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and it's easy to see why. Both novels are concerned with the cost of appearing successful and living the American dream. It's also not surprising that Yate's novel has found a new market in today's society. It's quiet story of frustration and aimlessness with resonate with many in today's world. Other characters are superbly created. We have the Campbells, a neighbouring mirror-image couple who live on a thin line of liking and disliking the Wheelers. Also in the cast is the dysfunctional Givings family who struggle with emotional expression and their disturbed son.Revolutionary Road is not easy reading nor does it have a happy ending. It is bleak. It is an amazing portrayal of quiet despair and the simultaneous liking and hatred of conventionality. Despite being nearly 50 years old, its tale is still potent and will reach a new audience through the release of the film by Sam Mendes.

Review by

Brilliantly written portrayal of the dissatisfaction bred by suburban life in 50s America for Frank and April Wheeler, a young couple. This leads to vicious arguments, followed by sessions of making up:a rollercoaster of emotions with no evidence of genuine love for each other or, most disturbingly, for their young children.They come up with a plan to get away from it all, and the events are described in the context of their and other people's reactions to and behaviour as a result of these plans. A natural event pulls contemporary moral ethics into the forefront of the story, and things go downhill slowly and decisively.Sorry if this is a bit unclear and cryptic, but I don't want to introduce any spoilers for those who haven't read the novel or seen the film.I found it cleverly written, and the intermingling of the Wheelers with their friends and acquaintances created a fascinating portrait of the time. I don't agree with some of the back cover blurb that it's flawless, though I think it's possibly a great American novel of its time.

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