Length: 320 pages
From the publisher:
Ann Patchett’s novels have been feats of imagination-from the tale of an opera singer held hostage inside a vice presidential mansion, to a forgotten tribe along the banks of the Amazon river-she has created entire worlds for the reader to inhabit. Now, with her new book, she puts fiction aside and invites us into the very real world of her own life. This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is both wide-ranging and deeply personal, overflowing with close observation and emotional wisdom. Stretching from her tumultuous childhood, from a disastrous early marriage and a later happy one, she charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore. Patchett shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed. Brimming with thoughtful advice and emotional wisdom, this collection brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, writer, and friend. An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.
Here’s what I thought:
Ann Patchett is one of my favorite writers and I have a special place in my heart for her non-fiction, so I jumped at the chance to read this latest work of non-fiction. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of essays and articles that have mostly been published elsewhere and reassembled together here.
Although the essays don’t all necessarily have a common theme, the order of them tends to flow naturally from one to the next, and there are quite a few companion pieces which work best read together. Patchett covers a diverse array of topics, all in a way which is intensely personal–she applies almost everything to her own life and uses examples from her experiences as a way of revealing larger truths. She also manages to be both down to earth and beautifully poetic at times. Her narrative voice is accessible and feels as if she is speaking directly to you, though I wouldn’t necessarily make the assumption that this is the real Ann Patchett; she is a writer after all.
The pieces collected here are highly readable and kept me interested from start to finish. Patchett interweaves tales about her childhood, her romantic history, and her love for her dog into articles about larger issues such as the business of writing, the role of books in shaping people’s experiences, and the importance of independent bookstores. She has definite opinions but for the most part doesn’t come across as over-bearing, even as her intelligence and confidence shine through every story that she tells.
I enjoyed this collection very much, and I feel like it gave me a greater insight into Ann Patchett, the writer, and a greater appreciation for how and why she does what she does. Recommended.
Thanks so much to Edelweiss and Harper for providing me with a copy of this book.
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