Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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

The backstory: Ann Patchett is one of my favorite authors. See my reviews of her novels The Magician's Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, and State of Wonder.

The basics: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of personal essays.

My thoughts: Longtime readers know nonfiction is not my favorite genre to read. Yet I adore reading the personal thoughts of fiction writers I admire, and I was eager to read Ann Patchett's collection of essays, even though I'd read a couple of them before. In the twenty-four hours I spent with this collection, I felt as though I was staying up all night drinking wine and talking to a friend. Patchett's essays are fearless. While individually they address different moments and themes, collectively, they read as a personal history. These essays are all autobiographical, and while some are more personal than others, I turned the last page feeling as though Patchett is my friend. While I think of her as a friend, the relationship between reader and writer of personal essays is a somewhat bizarre one. I keep thinking of things I could tell Patchett, if only I actually knew her. This collection is so diverse--in time, mood, and theme--it's difficult to say much without taking away the charm of the pieces individually, so I shall say this: stop reading and go find a copy to read for yourself.

Favorite passage: "Implicit in my love for Tennessee has always been the understanding that certain needs were going to have to be met elsewhere."

The verdict: I can't recommend This is the Story of a Happy Marriage highly enough. It's a smart, beautiful, and poignant collection of essays, and while I favor some more than others, there isn't a bad one in the entire collection.

Rating: 5 out of 5
Length: 325 pages
Publication date: November 5, 2013
Source: publisher

Convinced? Treat yourself! Buy This is the Story of a Happy Marriage from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (Kindle edition.)

Want more? Visit all the tour stops and visit Ann Patchett's website.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!


  1. I'm halfway through this book and am enjoying it very much! I didn't realize it was a collection of essays when I requested a copy from the library, but I love how they all relate to her writing life while also being about such different experiences and different periods of her life.

  2. I'm so glad that you loved this book so much! I can think of a few friends who would really appreciate this as a Christmas gift. Thanks for being on the tour!

  3. I've been wondering about this one because I loved Bel Canto and State of Wonder but wasn't sure if I'd be interested in the essays. Thanks for te recommendation!

  4. I loved these as well. I think you really beautifully explain how her essays make us feel as if we know her.

  5. I can't wait to read this one! I love Patchett's work. I had the chance to meet her this year and she was just lovely.

  6. Absolutely agree about this one!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!