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Extended Audio Sample The Amateur Marriage: A Novel Audiobook, by Anne Tyler Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (7,525 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anne Tyler Narrator: Blair Brown Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2004 ISBN: 9780739310434
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From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage—and its consequences, spanning three generations.

They seemed like the perfect couple—young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.

Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable.

From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counterculture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayered apparel of later years, Anne Tyler captures the evocative nuances of everyday life during these decades with such telling precision that every page brings smiles of recognition. Throughout, as each of the competing voices bears witness, we are drawn ever more fully into the complex entanglements of family life in this wise, embracing, and deeply perceptive novel.

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Quotes & Awards

  • An ode to the complexities of familial love, the centripetal and centrifugal forces that keep families together and send their members flying apart, the supremely ordinary pleasures and frustrations of middle-class American life. Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
  • Tyler ranges over 60 years of American experience… from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the anniversary of that day in 2001…as she tracks one couple’s domestic disturbances…[Her] writing is beautifully accurate, more often than not with a glinting vein of humor. William H. Pritchard, New York Times Book Review, front cover
  • She evokes the entire sweep of [a marriage] with uncommon delicacy & dignity… gives us the feeling of being inside Michael and Pauline Anton’s marriage. John Freeman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • She traces the stormy union of two people who love but can’t stand each other. Kirkus Reviews
  • This ‘wickedly good’ author has come to represent the best of today’s American literature… She is an exquisite chronicler of the everyday
    …Her characters are at once infuriating and endearing, conservative yet quietly eccentric.
    Lisa Allardice, The Observer, London
  • Her command of what will move a story forward & engross a reader is faultless. Martha Southgate, Baltimore Sun
  • She expertly explores the perils of marriage… Wise & observant…She has the uncanny ability to expose the most confusing contradictions of love. Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
  • “[Her] writing is beautifully accurate, more often than not with a glinting vein of humor.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • In the fervor of WWII, Michael and Pauline rush head-long into marriage, then live in a constant state of turmoil …We watch safely from a distance like a busybody neighbor hiding behind the curtains, judgmental yet fascinated. Kim Askew, Elle magazine
  • “She evokes the entire sweep of [a marriage] with uncommon delicacy and dignity…[She] gives us the feeling of being inside Michael and Pauline Anton’s marriage.”

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • “This ‘wickedly good’ author has come to represent the best of today’s American literature…She is an exquisite chronicler of the everyday…Her characters are at once infuriating and endearing, conservative yet quietly eccentric.”

    Observer (London)

  • “Her command of what will move a story forward and engross a reader is faultless.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “She expertly explores the perils of marriage…Wise and observant…She has the uncanny ability to expose the most confusing contradictions of love.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Unlike many writers treading similar ground, Tyler does not sneer at such domestic heartache, nor does she infuse it with gothic doom. Instead, she depicts Michael and Pauline’s marriage with simple realism.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Tyler straddles expertly the line between commercial and literary fiction, so that her characters and their circumstances appeal for the widest possible audience. She has keen sense of both humor and pathos, and when to employ the right one in the right measure. Her characters are thoroughly three-dimensional. They are our own families; they are ourselves; and it is our own desperate desire to understand the people we love, as well as the people who hurt us and whom we hurt, that keeps us reading with fervor.”

    Boston Globe

  • “A rich and satisfying addition to the author’s distinguished body of work.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Tyler is an unsurpassed commentator on the subtle entanglements of relationships.”

    Harper’s Bazaar

  • “With piercing psychology, gentle humor, and poignant understanding of how deeply people who can love each other hurt each other, Ms. Tyler sets her story against quick evocative sketches of the decades as they pass…At the top of her craft, not a jot pretentious, she continues to write about real people with real problems in language anyone can understand.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “It is Tyler’s particular genius to capture life at its most mundane, then redeem it with a poignant humanity; to reveal the callousness of her characters, then peel back the layers to where the feelings lurk…Tyler has once again shown us our limits, along with our capacity for transcending them.”

    St. Petersburg Times

  • “A wonderful character study illustrating the problems that, to some degree, afflict every marriage…Tyler’s genuine story appears seamless as it progresses over a period of sixty years. The author possesses that rare ability to capture the essence of human disappointment, and combines disparate characters with an ordinary subject, propelling it with wry humor and impassioned feelings.”

    Desert Morning News

  • “Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle class’ Norman Rockwell ideal, but she doesn’t share it; rather, she has a masterful ability to make it bleed…The range and power of this novel should not only please Tyler’s immense readership but also awaken us to the collective excellency of her career.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “So smart, so sensitive, so readable and engaging.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • One of the 2004New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele Bond | 2/12/2014

    " As she always does, Anne paints a lovely portrait of quirky Baltimore characters, and leads us into their lives. I love her books because she writes about places that I recognize, and I nearly always find myself in at least part of the story. This one did not disappoint! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 2/7/2014

    " Classic Anne Tyler. Not her best but well worth reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Polliwog | 2/2/2014

    " Well written but generally quite depressing. I had the vague feeling I'd read it before--I probably have. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan Campbell | 1/31/2014

    " Almost as good as Breathing Lessons, which won a Pulitzer. I urge friends to curl up with anything by Anne Tyler. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joyce Bostock | 1/30/2014

    " Unsure about this peticular book of Tyler. I have no idea of where the title comes to the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Arden | 1/25/2014

    " A thought-provoking, reflective picture of a marriage: it effects on the two involved and on their children and grand-children. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karin | 1/17/2014

    " I liked it. It was a quick and easy read with characters one could relate to. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maria H | 1/15/2014

    " Excellent. moving, ordinary lives, things going wrong. One my faves by her. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Holly | 1/13/2014

    " I tried to like this book. Really, I did. I normally love everything Anne Tyler writes. But this one, not so much. The main characters were self-involved, selfish, whiny. I didn't sympathize with them much, it fact, I didn't really care for any of them. A first for me with Anne Tyler. :-( "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cami | 1/1/2014

    " This book was an eye opener for me. It really made me think about marriage and the what if's. I won't ever forget it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candace | 12/28/2013

    " first anne tyler i've read and found it pretty enjoyable. she has a good handle on human nature. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patty | 12/25/2013

    " One of the two best books I've read this year! Loved it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dragana | 12/8/2013

    " Mostly well-observed family saga with pessimistic look at "opposites attract" marriages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mrs. Revier | 11/17/2013

    " She does it again! i just LOVE to read Tyler. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karen | 6/27/2013

    " Author was recommended and I've seen a lot her books on award and favourites lists etc but this just seemed too depressing. Good account of bad decisions and choices, but it hasn't made me want to read more "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Irene | 4/16/2013

    " Had to read A Patchwork Planet in high school. Had fond memories of her writing style, and "The Amateur Marriage" doesn't disappoint. She is excellent at demonstrating the influence that inertia, perhaps even more than initial circumstance of a choice, has on the state of our lives. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jenny Caporrino | 3/23/2013

    " Killjoy. Not an uplifting story would be to put it mildly. A good story though - just drawn out and drenched in mopi-ness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin Shea Smith | 3/13/2013

    " This book is absolutely amazing. Poignant. Love it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lily Luoma | 2/5/2012

    " I am a big fan of just about everything Anne Tyler writes. This is my favorite. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diana | 11/30/2011

    " Anne Tyler falls in the category of guilty pleasure. I enjoy reading/listening to her tales; I don't find them profound. She writes often of couples that can't/won't connect, don't understand each other, are truly mismatched. And that is the story here, too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melanie | 7/2/2011

    " I love Anne Tyler! During a low time in my life I soaked her up and loved her quirky but heart-rendering women characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katie | 6/15/2011

    " picked this up in a 'free' box on the street, we'll see how it goes! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patty | 6/7/2011

    " The book was well-written, obviously. And the basic plot was appealing--just the story of a life--several lives--from the time they met. It didn't seem to have a point, though. It was understated, although the events were sometimes dramatic. At the end, there wasn't a clear resolution or moral. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fab | 5/27/2011

    " everytime i picked this up it felt i had was sleeping with prince vallium "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 James (DayOldNews) | 5/24/2011

    " A realistic, but pretty depressing look at marriage in the middle of the 20th century. The characters are not very likable; it ends up looking like the history of one unremarkable family. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cami | 5/7/2011

    " This book was an eye opener for me. It really made me think about marriage and the what if's. I won't ever forget it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 4/27/2011

    " This is one of my favorite Anne Tyler books. The story is captivating, serious but funny, a study of human nature and relationships. An easy & enjoyable read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erica | 4/25/2011

    " This book was ok.....it took me forever to read...thanks to grad school. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marsha | 4/21/2011

    " i liked it. quick engaging read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katie | 4/5/2011

    " I didn't really like the charachters in this book and the story was a bit boring... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ashley | 4/2/2011

    " If you’ve read The Time Traveler’s Wife, the marriage between Michael and Pauline feels at times, like the marriage between Henry and Claire. I imagine The Amateur Marriage is what Henry and Claire’s relationship could have been like, if they were the same age. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurel | 3/11/2011

    " This book is well-written and captures the time periods it covers beautifully. I just found the book to be so depressing, I'm not sure I'd read it again. "

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About the Author
Author Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler is an American novelist, short-story writer, and literary critic and considered a major figure in American literature. Her novels have earned a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Amabassador Book Award, London Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, among other awards, and several have been New York Times bestsellers. Her novel The Accidental Tourist was made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture in 1988. She was was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where many of her books are set. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

About the Narrator

Blair Brown is a Tony Award–winning actor. Her best known role is Nina Sharp from the television series Fringe. She prepares for recording audiobooks the same way she does for her other roles: by reading the text three times. Brown has won seven AudioFile Earphones Awards.