Reviews for This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage
Booklist Reviews 2013 September #2
*Starred Review* This is the story of how best-selling novelist Patchett (State of Wonder, 2011) became a writer. As a young child in California and, after her parents' divorce, Nashville, she knew she had to write, and she was fortunate, as she so warmly and vividly explains, in her writing teachers--Allan Gurganus, Grace Paley, and Russell Banks--and in her success supporting herself by writing nonfiction for magazines and newspapers, beginning with Seventeen and extending to the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Vogue, and Gourmet. Patchett now assembles a retrospective set of 22 sterling personal essays to form an episodic, piquant, instructive, and entertaining self-portrait. She reflects on her family, life on a Tennessee farm, literary discipline and inspiration, and her failed first marriage. Her second marriage is central to her hilarious account of an RV road trip, and the full measure of Patchett's toughness and daring surfaces in "The Wall," a riveting account of her father, a captain when he retired after 30 years on the Los Angeles police force, coaching her as she takes the grueling admission test for the Los Angeles Police Academy. A self-described "workhorse" who has even opened an independent bookstore, Patchett is a commanding and incisive storyteller, whether her tales are true or imagined. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2013 October #1
A well-organized collection of a beloved, award-winning writer's nonfiction essays about her personal and literary lives. Most readers know Patchett (State of Wonder, 2011, etc.) for her richly imaginative fiction. But before she found success as a novelist, she supported herself by writing nonfiction for a diverse variety of magazines, including Seventeen, Mercedes Benz Magazine and Bridal Guide. In this book, Patchett gathers 22 essays published between 1997 and 2012. What she ultimately produces is a text that is part meditation on the writing life and part literary memoir. From an early age, the Los Angeles native knew she wanted to be a writer, but she would be an adult before she realized that, in addition to making art, storytellers "also [had] to make a living." After stints as a cook, waitress and teacher, she discovered that writing nonfiction could pay her bills. It would only be much later that she understood how writing nonfiction had transformed her into "a workhorse," abolished her ego and impacted the future readers of her novels in ways she never expected. Patchett also reflects on her literary successes, as well as on the controversy surrounding Truth & Beauty (2004), which explores the emotionally intense relationship she had with fellow Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate Lucy Grealy. The personal essays reflect a wide range of experiences. In one, she reflects on the rocky childhood that led her away from LA and on to Nashville. In another, she reflects on her failed first marriage and second successful one. Patchett also shares stories of how she learned to appreciate opera, qualified for the LA police academy and unexpectedly became part owner of an independent bookstore. Readable and candid, Patchett's collection is a joyful celebration of life, love and the written word. Wise, humane and always insightful. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 June #1
The author of six novels, including PEN/Faulkner Award winner Bel Canto, Patchett has also written nonfiction. Here she pulls together essays appearing in the Atlantic, Harper's, and more to offer overall perspective on Patchett's life, from a topsy-turvy childhood to the sorrows of a bad first marriage and the joys of a second happy one. A sense of what truly grounds Patchett--her writing, her friends, her husband--emerges. [Page 80]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Library Journal Reviews 2013 October #2
This compilation of 22 essays by novelist Patchett (winner of the Orange Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award; Taft; State of Wonder), many of which previously appeared in magazines or newspapers, together comprise an eclectic group covering a wide range of events on the topic of commitment, from training to get into the Los Angeles Police Department academy to Patchett's career as an author. In the title piece, she recounts the 11 premarriage years she spent with now husband Karl and the lessons they taught her about marriage. In sharing her struggles as a writer and creating the life she wanted for herself, Patchett offers words that gently advise without imposing. Her experiences, large and small, create a connection with the reader in prose that is thoughtful, warm, and encouraging. Each of the essays is its own delight and resonates with warmth and humor from her family and friends, making a short investment of time wonderfully rewarding. If read straight through, the book presents a lovely and lyrical look at a life well lived. VERDICT Patchett provides insight and entertainment for all kinds of readers, and this title will be an asset to any library.--Catherine Gilmore, MLS, Portland, OR [Page 99]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 July #2
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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC