What a book! In 338 pages Yates dismantled the myth of consumerism and conformity with the family as the functional unit propagating both of these 'values'. Not everyone is happy living out a stereotype and most of society's stereotypes don't fit most of us most of the time anyway.
It also skewered this idea of 'American exceptionalism'. Both April and Frank believed they were exceptional and that the normal mundane rules of existence didn't apply to them because they were special. What drives their disillusionment, especially April's, is that they are ordinary and their lives are as mundane and small as they believe their neighbours' to be. They never seemed to come to the conclusion that within every ordinary person is a little nugget of exceptionalism.
I thought it was clever the way Yates wrote the story largely from everyone else's perspective, mainly Frank's, but the story was about April. And I don't think there was a happily married couple amongst the characters.
I started off feeling for Frank, but that gradually waned. It started with Maureen. But by the time he suggested that April should see a psychoanalyst I had completely defected from 'team Frank'.
Don't get me wrong, April was no saint, I just felt that she was required to sacrifice a lot more in the relationship. At least she had the guts to admit to not loving Frank. I was just disappointed she let him off the hook at the end. And he was emotionally stunted enough to believe her. While April takes responsibility for what she did, in reality this was a responsibility that was shared by Frank. It may well have been her last act of compassion, or it could have been a sign that she had truly given up.
This was a great book which made me very grateful that my life choices haven't led me down that particularly tortuous garden path of domesticity. Most of us dream that when we get married we will be happily married forever. To be unhappily married must be a form of truly exquisite torture.