I thought it would be fun to take up Susan Wise Bauer's challenge and read 52 books, in 52 weeks.
Last week I read Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, which has recently been made into a movie. I have yet to see the film and am curious if it will faithfully convey some of the themes in the book. I watched the preview and it appears that the movie really captures the author's descriptions of settings and characters really well. It was like seeing the book come to life just as I had imagined it.
But the Wheelers never find out that the same sense of purposelessness would follow them to Europe. April gets pregnant and all their plans come to a grinding halt. This is where I have conflicted feelings about the novel. April is so set on moving to Europe that she plans to abort the baby. This isn't the first time she made such plans; she wanted to abort their first child but Frank talked her out of it leading them to their present situation.
Frank finds out April's plans and vehemently opposes an abortion; he readily lets go of the dream of Europe and at the same time finds peace with his present life. The novel makes it clear that the fetus is a living human being. Yates draws attention to the fact that the first baby April wanted to abort was a person - their alive and growing daughter Jennifer. It seems that his pro-life position is clear.
I won't divulge how the novel ends, but it left me with the sick feeling that this was intended as an argument for legalizing abortion. When I step back and consider the title of the book, Revolutionary Road, it seems that the domestic life portrayed through the lives of Frank and April Wheeler was the nucleus for a revolution: the feminist movement which hinges on legalized abortion. In the end, while on the surface the story is about Frank, it's really about April.
I DO recommend the book. It would make a great book club choice as it has fodder for some great discussions about our purpose, abortion, marriage, family and the feminist movement.
Labels: 52 Books 52 Weeks