Will this humidity never end? I’ve been stuck inside the house for the past two days, and today is looking like it’s going to be Day Three… Good thing I have a stack of books to help me through this!
I hosted a Friends book club meeting here last night, the first time we’ve met since January! It was hot, but in the shade of the backyard, I think we all found it pretty bearable. Several members mentioned that this book club meeting marked, for them, a significant step towards a return to “normal”. We discussed Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. You may be familiar with this novel, as it was adapted into a film starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet in 2008, so I’ll offer just a brief summary. Published in 1961, this novel tells the story of April and Frank Wheeler, a couple in their early 30s who, in the hopeful year of 1955, are utterly disillusioned with their lives, with the house they have on Revolutionary Road, with themselves and with each other. Almost from the very first page, we see this disillusionment and sadness, and it only gets more complicated as the story progresses. Frank works at an office where he takes pride in the fact that he can do almost nothing all day and still collect a paycheck. April, who once dreamed of becoming an actress, is a suburban housewife and mother of two. Neither wanted the life they have, and they are not doing a great job of “making the best of it”, although to everyone they know, they appear to be the “golden couple”. When April proposes that they move to France, things seem to get better as they draw closer in their relationship during the exciting planning stages, but when April becomes pregnant with their third child and Frank is offered a promotion, things begin to fall apart again. Will this be the end of them, or can they figure out a way to recover from their challenging situations and save their failing marriage? You’ll have to read the book to find out. We agreed that it was well-written, and none of us liked Frank, considering him a smooth-talker who was manipulative and a bit smarmy. We considered April’s situation, how she was cast in a role she never wanted but from which she couldn’t escape. One member could relate to these characters as they somewhat mirrored her own parents’ lives. We discussed the significance of the title, whether it meant that this couple was revolutionary, that the post-war 1950s were revolutionary, or perhaps it referred to the coming women’s revolution in the 1960s. We decided that one of the themes was the exploration of the truth behind the “American Dream”, that it was really all an illusion. We discussed how important it was to know yourself, another theme in this novel. I mentioned that Frank and April didn’t love one another and should never have gotten married and had children, and another member said that this was the case for most couples at any given time, that this was reality and that most people learn to live with it, which was an eye-opening comment because it’s true that we never know what goes on behind closed doors. It was a good book, a good discussion, and a great opportunity to ease back into “real life” as we learn to live with continued COVID-19 restrictions. We have even picked a book and set a date for our next meeting, which gives us all something to look forward to and to get working on, as it’s going to take place in just five weeks. Better get requesting the book and reading it!
That’s all for today. I hear thunder outside, so I’m hoping for a huge thunderstorm - there’s nothing better than reading inside while a wild storm is happening outdoors. Take care, stay safe, and keep reading!Bye for now…