I read Revolutionary Road. I'm torn. It was an easy read that was interesting and drew me in, and I thought a lot about it afterwards, but I really didn't like the ending.
I don't know...I guess I can understand the characters in the book to some extent, but then I know a lot of women/mothers who would really like to be in April's place in life...two kids, married, a nice house, being a stay-at-home mother, and pregnant again.
Then again, happiness is all about choice, I guess. A theme in the book was definitely April's lack of choice (hence the ending, which I found incredibly sad and heart breaking).
She probably felt trapped because that scenario of life (wife, kids, house in the suburbs) wasn't her choice. She was doing what was expected of her for the time she was born into and economic status that she married into. She would have been happier and more stimulated working, I think.
I guess I didn't see Frank as a terrible husband until the middle of the book when he had the affair, but then I do think that was a very human and 1950s/1960s thing to do. Times are different now.
What I really liked about Frank was that he really tried to understand April, and to make life better for her. Yes, he had limitations and was a coward about implementing their dream of living in Europe, but he was a good provider, and he seemed to be interested in taking care of his children and loving his wife.
I also got bored with their constant thinking that people living in Europe and the advant garde of the Village/NYC were so much more "real" than anyone else. That's a bit too easy, and stumped intellectually for me.
It's like saying you have to wear hipster clothing to be hip.
They were living in suburbia and had chosen that...they made fun of their neighbors who had chosen the same thing...who's to say their neighbors didn't have the same thoughts and feeling of being stifled, too? Given all the literature about 1950s/1960s suburban upper middle class culture, I'd be willing to guess that most of their neighbors felt the very same way, but kept it hidden (Betty Friedan, "The Feminine Mystique, etc).
In some ways, I kind of felt like Frank and April were posers. They prided themselves on things like sparse decorating style as a sign that they were "authentic," "intellectual," and "real."
Kind of silly.
One other thought is that I felt a reader could definitely tell the story was written by a male author. The sensibility of the novel, and the way females were described was definitely more of a male perspective than female.
My question is "is this a realistic portrayal of suburban middle class marriages of the period"?
If so, I'm so happy to be a female in post-feminist America! I'm reminded of the Gloria Steinen quote, "Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry."
That's the beauty of choice. I can provide for myself as well as any man if I set myself up to do that, and I can also be a SAHM, with the right support, and re-enter the workforce at a later date. I just can't go seamlessly between those two roles without a lot of planning and time...but hopefully our daughters will!
And they won't feel April's desperation.