Author: Richard Yates

Year: 1961

Before reading the book, I saw the 2008 film of the same name, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio; a very good movie, directed by Sam Mendes, great performances, you should watch it.  The book was released on the last day of 1961 and was a competitor of Catch-22, which I’ve never loved; far too long a novel to make one major point, which it makes right away and then simply hammers away at.  Revolutionary Road, on the other hand, takes one theme and looks at it from every angle, until you feel as if you’re living a lie yourself, trapped in suburbia when you were made for far greater things.

Frank & April Wheeler live a lovely existence in the country just outside New York City; they met as artistic Bohemians, full of big dreams, but their lives now are rather normal and mundane.  They live is a nice house on a nice block with nice friends and nice children.  Frank commutes into work, April takes care of the house, everything is just so perfect you could scream.  In a moment of youthful wistfulness, they hatch a plan to move to Paris and buck all the trends, but actually doing it is another thing entirely, and when they deconstruct their lives they may not like what they find behind the walls.

A great novel that’s almost hard to recommend, Revolutionary Road is a very sad, very existential thought piece, while also being a simple portrait of life in the 50s and what it meant to be meaningless.  It’s heartbreaking to watch these characters devolve, especially since what they were trying to change into is something so beautiful, but maybe not attainable.  The conversations are awesome, the characters are many & well-formed, the time capsule feel is excellent, and the meaning hits hard; this is a superb novel, but probably one that you’ll only want to read once.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆