Thoughts: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

patchettThis Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Ann Patchett

320 pages

Published in November 2013 by Harper

Source: Public Library

…You will take bits from books you’ve read and movies you’ve seen and conversations you’ve had and stories friends have told you, and half the time you won’t even realize you’re doing it. I am a compost heap, and everything I interact with, every experience I’ve had, gets shoveled onto the heap where it eventually mulches down, is digested and excreted by worms, and rots. It’s from that rich, dark humus, the combination of what you encountered, what you know and what you’ve forgotten, that ideas start to grow. (I could make a case for the benefits of wide-ranging experience, both personal and literary, as enriching the compost, but the life of Emily Dickinson neatly dismantles that theory.)

from the essay, “The Getaway Car

I didn’t know what to think when I first decided to read Patchett’s collection of personal essays. I tried reading Bel Canto, one of her most popular books, but failed to get through more than a few pages. Oftentimes, I find when I can’t get through a writer’s fiction, I’m successful at their nonfiction and vice versa. I was right again with this collection.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of personal essays from Ann Patchett, many of which have been previously published in various publications. With topics ranging from the author’s relationship with her grandmother to the failure of her first marriage and the blossoming of her second one, readers find themselves being pulled along by the Patchett’s relaxed voice.

The title essay about Patchett’s first marriage and how she came to remarry is so personal, so well-written, that I had to read it in its entirety out loud. That’s how wonderful it is. I had no idea that Patchett originally wrote and read the essay for Audible. It’s an essay that’s meant to be listened to.

While I don’t know if I would ever give the author’s fictional works a try again, I do know that I won’t hesitate to pick up her essays. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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14 thoughts on “Thoughts: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

  1. Oh, see, I hope this is the case with me, too. I have plenty of authors where I like there fiction but don’t like their non-fiction and vice versa as well. I will add this to my list!

  2. I love that you loved this so much, I love that you read it out loud! I enjoyed Bel Canto, but wondered how I would feel about a series of personal essays. Right now, the thought of them sounds a bit tedious, but I do trust you. This sounds like something to consider after reading your review, when previously I’d dismissed it utterly.

    1. If you don’t want to commit to the whole collection, you can still find the title essay available on Audible. :-) If you decide to listen or read it, let me know your thoughts.

  3. This is definitely a book I’d like to get my hands on. I’d definitely call myself a fan of Ann Patchett. I read Bel Canto and liked it but didn’t love it. However, I really liked her earlier novel, The Magician’s Assistant, and really loved her memoir of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, Truth & Beauty.

  4. I was not at all a fan of Bel Canto, so I was not really looking into this book, but if it is SO GOOD and you say so, well… :-) I can get it on audiobook from the library.

  5. I liked Bel Canto, The Magician’s Assistant and Truth & Beauty, but read them all years ago. I think I would like this collection though – your review has made me intrigued by it, anyway. Thanks!

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