This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Thoughts titsoahmbyap by Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury 2013, 306 pages

Challenge:  none. A gift at Winter Holiday, via book bloggers book exchange. Thanks Bex!
Genre: Memoir, essays, nonfiction
Type/Source:  Tradeback/Wordery-Bex
 Why I read this now: Upon perusing the shelf, this sounded good.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ann Patchett is a successful prize-winning novelist (I really enjoyed Bel Canto – read for a book club way before blogging. It won the Orange and PEN/Faulkner in 2002.) who also owns a bookstore in Nashville TN. This writer-plus-bookshop-proprietor was a magazine article writer in order to support her fiction writing habit; this is a collection of a few of those articles from her past combined with new, fresh takes on life and love.

WHAT’s GOOD: I love her. From word one, I fell hard into this and couldn’t stop enjoying, thinking, relating, pondering. I had no idea what to expect; I really didn’t know anything more about Ann Patchett other than the first fact:  1) she wrote Bel Canto and the second, that 2) she owns a bookstore. I am now a fan and she is one of those authors that I hope to have the opportunity to meet/see/hear in person. I suppose I should put State of Wonder on my tbr – I had not yet because I had read a few reviews that made me consider it skippable. Now, I think I must reconsider that just because some don’t like her writing, I do. I have to find out if I am on the PRO SoW side of things. (Come to think of it, I wish I had suggested this for book club! but somehow, my gushings of I Capture the Castle had all the gals thinking they, too, want to read it. Which is cool. But a divisive book is so much more fun. Oh well..)

What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Ms. Patchett and I are about the same age and we have a few things in common (we both like dogs and we both own The Pie and Pastry Bible) but we are also quite different. I like to read about strong women who carve their own path and enjoy adventure.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Apple pie.

“She loved to tell me a story about a doctor who ordered his piece of apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and how she refused to give it to him because it was illegal to serve pie with cheese in the state of Kansas because the combination was thought to be poisonous.”



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29 thoughts on “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

  1. I love State of Wonder. I haven’t loved all of her books, though. She’s occasionally self-involved in a way that puts me off. And I really wonder about someone who could write a book with this title–isn’t it like inviting Fate or God or Someone to make your husband have an embarrassingly public affair and leave you with thousands of remainder copies? Guess she’s not superstitious!

    1. Actually, it took her a long time to figure out how to write that particular essay – the title is more like a mantra or affirmation rather than a “hey-look at me!” kind of thing.
      I seem to LIKE authors who are accused of being ‘self-involved’ whatever that means (I usually don’t ‘get’ the criticism.). She did remind me of Elizabeth Gilbert who is also accused of such.

  2. I have ‘State of Wonder” on my Kindle, but have not read it. I also own the “Pie and Pastry Bible”, but I’ve never made a pie or a pastry from it. I guess I should get on that soon (both reading the book and making a pie). By the way–did you ever find salt water taffy?

    1. I have not tried too many recipes from the Pie & Pastry Bible but I enjoy reading them. I attempted the complicated meringue and it was decidedly way too complicated. Never again.

      Maybe we could readalong SoW?

      I have found salt water taffy but not when it would be easy or convenient to deal with. So… no.

  3. I have loved everything by Anne Patchett that I’ve read so far (which is most of her books). I haven’t read this one yet and I’m REALLY excited about her new one that just came out. It seems to be doing well, so far!
    Btw, I also like Elizabeth Gilbert.

  4. I’m definitely in the pro-Ann Patchett club! And I love Elizabeth Gilbert, too! As a matter of fact, have you read Big Magic? There’s a great anecdote – and I mean, great, it seriously gave me chills when I heard Gilbert speak about it (I did the audiobook) about her and Ann Patchett. it’s related to State of Wonder. I don’t want to say more and spoil it if you haven’t read Big magic yet.

    I’ve yet to read SoW or Happy Marriage, but I think Bel Canto is just about a perfect novel. And I very much enjoyed her other novels and Truth and Beauty.

    1. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me – that AP and EG would be friends. I saw Gilbert speak on some Oprah rah-rah thing – like a Ted Talk – but have yet to pick up Big Magic. I want to, though.

  5. I read Bel Canto, and I admit I did not love it. I never tried anything else by Patchett (apparently I am a one and done reader? That’s horrible about me!).

    But perhaps I shall read this one! I admit I am not entirely sure what it is about – essays on life generally? One of which is about her marriage?

    1. Aarti Dear, I don’t think I have your address… If you want me to send you this book, I would be glad to. The essays are about everything but a lot are about writing and her childhood, her marriages and stuff. A very good collection, imo.

  6. This was one of my favorites a couple of years ago… she narrates the audio version herself and it’s excellent! Have also loved all of her novels. Surprisingly, Bel Canto is my least favorite. Everyone else loves that one. Thinking I should reread.

    1. Really? I was thinking that I know a lot of people who did NOT like Bel Canto. Isn’t that funny how easily influenced we can be when reading and liking books is so tremendously subjective?

  7. I did like State of Wonder (like-not-love), but I haven’t read Ann Patchett’s essays. I read another nonfiction book by her, Truth and Beauty, and it was a bit boring tbh, but then I think the subjects of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage sound more interesting anyway.

    1. I somehow expect Truth & Beauty to tear me up and rip out my insides, tbh. Boring might be a relief from my expectations.

  8. Bel Canto is one of my favorite novels ever, and I really liked State of Wonder, and this essay collection was FANTASTIC. I need to get to the rest of her books because she has quickly become one of my favorite authors.

  9. I loved State of Wonder and Bel Canto! I did feel that the ending was rushed in both the books but they were worth reading. I do need to read this collection. It’s been on my list for a while.

  10. I’ve read ALL of her books. Of her fiction, I loved State of Wonder, Bel Canto, and The Patron Saint of Liars, and I liked everything else okay. Truth and Beauty is a beautiful memoir, but I have to admit, this essay collection left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I thought she was kind of insufferable in a humble brag sort of way. That said, nothing will keep me from her fiction, and I can’t wait for her new novel!

    1. Hmmm, I didn’t get any of that insufferable humble brag vibe. I see her as confident; she’s walked through some tough lessons and actually learned something from the ordeal. We women don’t often know how to BE confident; it seems we are never allowed.

  11. I loved this book! When my book club discussed it, though, I must say that the younger women couldn’t relate as well. Patchett is one of those authors whose lesser works are still better than most people’s work.

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