London Book Club: July

Posted on July 30, 2009 in Uncategorized

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

For the July book club we took a ‘long drive’ down Richard Yates’ Revolutionary Road. We all really loved the book, and it generated a great discussion. There were a few newcomers to this meeting, and they all contributed a lot to the discussion, so I felt that the book had actually served as a very good bonding tool.

A major focus of our discussion was Frank and April’s relationship. We felt sorry for Frank. However, we did notice that there was a time when Frank used April’s secrets as a weapon against her, which is quite a despicable thing to do. April trusts her husband with her most intimate thoughts and instead of helping her to deal with these issues he very spitefully taps into her vulnerability!

We then discussed April’s traumatic childhood. We also observed how she likes to be left alone and actively removes herself from a situation when she can no longer tolerate it. We were intrigued by the part towards the end of the book where she writes a letter to Frank and she makes the decision to actively omit the words ‘I love you’ from the ending. In many parts of the book, April is portrayed as the perfect woman. One of the other male characters, Shep Campbell, appears to be in love with the concept of ‘April the perfect woman’ (at least in his view of April).

Our book club also noticed that the couple always feels compelled to act in a certain way (particularly Frank). After Frank cheats on April with Maureen Grubbe, he becomes overcome with guilt and suddenly feels he must do the right thing (though perhaps this would have been to not cheat on her in the first place!). We discussed the theory of there always being a ‘flower’ and a ‘gardener’ in all romantic relationships. Frank always has to put things right when the couple argues, so he appears to have taken on the role of ‘gardener’.

The other prominent family that featured in the book was the Givings. Their son, who was recovering from a mental illness, seemed to be a random character that just did not fit in with the storyline at all. However, his mother Helen was very honest about her ‘flaw’ (as one book club member described it), and perhaps his character served the purpose of showing just how open Helen Givings was.

Finally, we also discussed our thoughts as to why the book was called Revolutionary Road. Most of us thought it was because the story was set at Revolutionary times. However, one person suggested that the meaning of the title was two-fold. The ‘road’ was revolutionary because of the endless circles that the couple appeared to be going round and round in; hence they appeared to be going through 360 degree revolutions. We also noticed how the surname of the main couple, the Wheelers, also very neatly tied in with the book title.