When the movie Revolutionary Road came out, I thought it was excellent. I didn't even realize it was based on a novel.
Well, now I've read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates so I am qualified to tell you that it is much better than the movie, and remember I said the movie was excellent. I'm not sure what adjective I can use that's superior to excellent, so let's say the novel is superior in its use of detail, realistic dialog, and characterization. And because it's from 1961 it makes me think that Mad Men is spot-on accurate.
Now, down to some details without revealing the wrenching conclusion.
Frank and April Wheeler are a relatively young married couple with two relatively young children. They have an extra-marital affair -- with each other. April encourages Frank to toss aside their boring domesticity and suddenly they're having late-night talks that go on for hours, the sex is fabulous, they change the way they think and act and look at life, and they become two different people who are passionately in love and filled with new ideas.
But the problem is that they are still Frank and April and they still have to face real life. Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall and can't be put back together again.
Worst of all, Frank is Frank. As Yates writes, "his self-absorption was so complete" that eventually he doesn't hesitate to destroy his wife.
Oh Frank Wheeler. Frank the Wheeler Dealer. I know you. You can't keep your pants zipped up. You're a liar. You're vicious, just plain vicious.
Now that I've made these people and their situation sound terrible, please allow me to remind you that this novel is superior, excellent, outstanding, well-worth reading.
I'd never heard of Yates before, and I believe I shall seek him out in the future.
Infinities of love,