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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

by

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Cover

 

Awards

Staff Pick

Known primarily for her novels, Ann Patchett has collected here many of her excellent essays. From acquiring a dog to traveling by RV, Patchett adroitly steers the reader through a smorgasbord of topics. The essay on writing is masterfully written and chock-full of sound advice.
Recommended by Mary Jo, Powells.com

I fall in love with books, all over again, almost every single day. But it's been a while since I fell in love this deeply with words on a page — on every single page. After finishing this gorgeous collection of writing, I feel like I'm carrying the author around in my pocket. That, next to my cell phone and my keys, is a lucky rock or a rare coin that makes me just a bit better, a bit happier, a bit more than I was.
Recommended by D. Lozano, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto creates a resonant portrait of a life in this collection of writings on love, friendship, work, and art.

"The tricky thing about being a writer, or about being any kind of artist, is that in addition to making art you also have to make a living."

So begins This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, an examination of the things Ann Patchett is fully committed to — the art and craft of writing, the depths of friendship, an elderly dog, and one spectacular nun. Writing nonfiction, which started off as a means of keeping her insufficiently lucrative fiction afloat, evolved over time to be its own kind of art, the art of telling the truth as opposed to the art of making things up. Bringing her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, Patchett uses insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.

These essays twine to create both a portrait of life and a philosophy of life. Obstacles that at first appear insurmountable — scaling a six-foot wall in order to join the Los Angeles Police Department, opening an independent bookstore, and sitting down to write a novel — are eventually mastered with quiet tenacity and a sheer force of will. The actual happy marriage, which was the one thing she felt she wasn't capable of, ultimately proves to be a metaphor as well as a fact: Patchett has devoted her life to the people and ideals she loves the most.

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.

Review:

"A collection of 22 essays (including a couple of commencement addresses) previously published by accomplished novelist and memoirist Patchett (State of Wonder; What Now?; etc.) offer generous glimpses of her rural, divorced Catholic Tennessee background and winding but determined route to becoming a writer ('The Getaway Car'). Writing nonfiction, first for Seventeen and later a host of magazines as her network of editors expanded, was her bread and butter in the early days, and she has an authoritative, straightforward voice in exploring some of the milestones of her life, such as her deep love for her dog, Rose (not to be confused with the desire for a baby), learning from scratch how to love opera in order to write her bestseller Bel Canto, preparing with her ex-cop father's guidance for the grueling L.A. Police Academy exams ('The Wall'), her startling resolve to start up a Nashville bookstore when no other bookstore was left in her hometown, and her painful but merciful segue from divorce to remarriage. The public addresses she made after the publication of Truth & Beauty, a memoir about her friendship with the deeply tortured writer Lucy Grealy, form the most telling and moving selections, especially her compelling speech ('The Right to Read') given to the Clemson University student body in defense of academic and artistic freedom. Early on, her writing teacher Russell Banks had warned Patchett of being too 'polished' and 'just getting by,' urging her to take risks, and certainly many of these selections reveal a candid, evolved self-reflection. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of  Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto, examines her deepest commitments — to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband — creating a resonant portrait of a life in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett's life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.

As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.

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About the Author

Ann Patchett is the author of six novels, including Bel Canto (winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize), and the nonfiction bestsellers What now? and Truth & Beauty. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where she is co-owner of Parnassus Books.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

ashraf, December 16, 2013 (view all comments by ashraf)
I first fell in love with Patchett's writing with the novel Bel Canto. I wasn't introduced to her nonfiction until I read Truth & Beauty earlier this year. (It helps to have read it--a lot of these essays are autobiographical and touch on events chronicled there.) She writes with a poignancy and vulnerability and fearlessness that I find sucks me in and won't let me go.
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Melinda Ott, November 7, 2013 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
Review originally posted on my blog at westmetromommy.blogspot.com
5.0 Stars

I'm not normally a fan of essay collections. I'll read them--after all, it is nice to have books that you can easily pick up and put down--but the constant change of topics tend to frustrate me. I'm also not overly familiar with Ann Patchett--the only one of her previous books I've read is Bel Canto and that was several years ago.

All that being said, I simply adored This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. This book is a collection of previously published essays in outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, and Gourmet. While it would seem that there are a number of unrelated topics included--and there are a number of topics--this is a very well-arranged collection. Even though the topics vary widely--from opera to RV travel to proof of the "Colbert Bump"--this book feels very streamlined. Even though I claim to enjoy the fact that I can easily put down essay collections between essays, I found myself unable to set this one aside.

Patchett is a very personal writer and now, after reading so much about her life, I feel like she is my best friend. (I do not mean that in a stalker-ish kind of way.) She is also an honest writer--she doesn't paint herself in a better light than she deserves and she has a very appealing self-deprecating sense of humor.

I can say nothing but glowing and wonderful things about this book. I would recommend This is the Story of a Happy Marriage to anyone, even those of you who share my formerly held belief that they were not fans of essay collections.
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(7 of 10 readers found this comment helpful)
The Lost Entwife, November 6, 2013 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I've been a fan of Ann Patchett since reading her brilliant masterpiece of a book, Bel Canto. I have an insane amount of longing to visit the bookstore she is co-owner of in Nashville, TN (Parnassus Books), and every time her name comes up in my email, on the internet, or in conversation, I have to hold myself back from squealing in delight and rushing insert myself into whatever is being talked about.

So I was thrilled when I received an opportunity to review this memoir, this very, very important memoir that spoke so loudly to me right now in my life. In This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Patchett does not talk just about her marriage, but about other extremely important things. Finding oneself, censorship, writing, schooling, job searching, living life, love, and most importantly, always pushing toward what makes one happy. The message that came across loud and clear in Patchett's memoir is that life is short and we have to make the most of it, doing what we love the most.

While Patchett's life worked out for her in a fantastic way, it is by no means a model for everyone, and she readily admits that. Moments came in her life, opportunities that she grabbed at and things worked out in her favor. That is, I think, the message she was trying to get across. There is no set pattern that can guarantee success in life; rather, one has to live life, grab opportunities, strive to be the best person they can be not only for themselves, but for those they love as well. There is no need to cave to pressure (I really appreciated her staunch stance on having children. I struggle with some of the same issues when people try to pressure me into believing that I am something less than normal for not wanting to get married), but stand firm in your beliefs and things will work out the way they work out.

I'm working on writing a novel for the first time in my life, thanks to NaNoWriMo this year. It's the first time I've even come close to approaching 10k words and I am watching as my own life heavily influences my writing. Patchett took time in one of her essays to talk about this phenomenon and it re-assured me. If a writer who is as magnificent as Patchett recognizes exactly what I'm going through as I start to explore my writing potential, then surely I am on the right path to finding something that works for me. It was encouragement that I needed right then and I'm so glad this book came into my life at this time.

Another important essay included in this collection was Patchett's convocation speech at Clemson University concerning her book, Truth and Beauty. It's a gorgeous speech and one that shouts loudly for people to read, to think, to make decisions for themselves and not cave to the overwhelmingly heavy hand of censorship. That speech alone is worth the price of the book - but you will also get many, many beautiful essays that will make you laugh and cry.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is not just about marriage. It's about life. And this reader has no intention of ever marrying, but I found something in this book that spoke to me. I suggest you give it the chance to do the same for you.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780062236678
Author:
Patchett, Ann
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20131105
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.05 in 22.8 oz

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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage New Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages Harper - English 9780062236678 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Known primarily for her novels, Ann Patchett has collected here many of her excellent essays. From acquiring a dog to traveling by RV, Patchett adroitly steers the reader through a smorgasbord of topics. The essay on writing is masterfully written and chock-full of sound advice.

"Staff Pick" by ,

I fall in love with books, all over again, almost every single day. But it's been a while since I fell in love this deeply with words on a page — on every single page. After finishing this gorgeous collection of writing, I feel like I'm carrying the author around in my pocket. That, next to my cell phone and my keys, is a lucky rock or a rare coin that makes me just a bit better, a bit happier, a bit more than I was.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "A collection of 22 essays (including a couple of commencement addresses) previously published by accomplished novelist and memoirist Patchett (State of Wonder; What Now?; etc.) offer generous glimpses of her rural, divorced Catholic Tennessee background and winding but determined route to becoming a writer ('The Getaway Car'). Writing nonfiction, first for Seventeen and later a host of magazines as her network of editors expanded, was her bread and butter in the early days, and she has an authoritative, straightforward voice in exploring some of the milestones of her life, such as her deep love for her dog, Rose (not to be confused with the desire for a baby), learning from scratch how to love opera in order to write her bestseller Bel Canto, preparing with her ex-cop father's guidance for the grueling L.A. Police Academy exams ('The Wall'), her startling resolve to start up a Nashville bookstore when no other bookstore was left in her hometown, and her painful but merciful segue from divorce to remarriage. The public addresses she made after the publication of Truth & Beauty, a memoir about her friendship with the deeply tortured writer Lucy Grealy, form the most telling and moving selections, especially her compelling speech ('The Right to Read') given to the Clemson University student body in defense of academic and artistic freedom. Early on, her writing teacher Russell Banks had warned Patchett of being too 'polished' and 'just getting by,' urging her to take risks, and certainly many of these selections reveal a candid, evolved self-reflection. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Blending literature and memoir, Ann Patchett, author of State of  Wonder, Run, and Bel Canto, examines her deepest commitments — to writing, family, friends, dogs, books, and her husband — creating a resonant portrait of a life in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett's life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.

As she shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed, Ann Patchett brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer.

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