This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

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Hi Ann, it was so lovely to visit with you.

About This is the Story of a Happy Marriage: Ann Patchett’s novels have been feats of imagination—from the tale of an opera singer held hostage inside a vice presidential mansion, to a forgotten tribe along the banks of the Amazon river—she has created entire worlds for the reader to inhabit. Now, with her new book, she puts fiction aside and invites us into the very real world of her own life.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is both wide-ranging and deeply personal, overflowing with close observation and emotional wisdom. Stretching from her tumultuous childhood, from a disastrous early marriage and a later happy one, she charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore. Patchett shares stories of the people, places, ideals, and art to which she has remained indelibly committed. Brimming with thoughtful advice and emotional wisdom, this collection brings into focus the large experiences and small moments that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, writer, and friend.  An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.

My two cents

Let's meet Ann - writer, daughter, good friend, dog lover, married, not married, in love, re-married, owner of a bookstore, unlikely advocate of the independent bookstore ... and, believe it or not, she can jump over walls!

I am in love with Ann and her writing. This is a wonderful set of essays, collected over the course of her career, and appearing in various magazines. I've only read her Bel Canto, but now I feel like I know better as a writer ... and as a lovely human being. This book feels like plopping down next to her on the couch with some tea and just chattering the afternoon away with an acquaintance ... and coming away with a new friend.

The title is deceiving. This isn't just about Ann Patchett's happy marriage from which the title was derived. This is about Ann's deepest loves and her greatest commitments in her life.

This subject matter is varied but it is a solid collection with a unifying thread. Ann touches upon her first naive and disastrous marriage and, essays later, how she eventually finds love once again, but not without much with much trepidation of getting hurt once again. She recounts how she was compelled to write yet stresses that writing takes great discipline and commitment (even if it means working in dead-end jobs to support herself). She shares her writing successes and disappointments. She talks about Truth and Beauty and her friendship with Lucy Grealy which is the basis of that book, and her response to the criticism of this bookand even more hurtful insinuations of this friendship. She talks about her policeman father's desire for her to succeed, leading to her taking the exams for the police force (and learning to jump over walls in the process!). She waxes poetic over her longtime companion,  her dog destined for the pound who she rescues as a pup.

(I've only just touched on a few essays so I encourage you to get a copy because at least one essay is bound to resonate.)

Ann talks about her life in an honest and matter-of-fact way, with introspection, with seriousness but never taking herself overly seriously. Never preachy, Ann's voice has such a wonderful accessibility and warmth. I feel privileged to have gotten to know her through these essays.

This is such a beautiful read, one essay at a time ... don't rush it.

Verdict: An intimate look into the life of a renowned writer, in an eclectic collection of essays about life, love, and commitment. A must-read for Patchett fans, for readers and writers alike. Sit and stay awhile and enjoy your visit with Ann! 

About Ann Patchett

Photo credit Heidi Ross
Photo credit: Heidi Ross
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels: the New York Times bestselling State of Wonder and Run; The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; The Magician’s Assistant; and Bel Canto, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize, the BookSense Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

She is also the author of two works of nonfiction: the New York Times bestselling Truth & Beauty and What now? Patchett has written for many publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Magazine, Gourmet, the New York Times, Vogue, and the Washington Post. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

Check out Ann Patchett's website. Or follow Ann's Blog on Parnassus Books (the bookstore Ann co-owns), or on Twitter.

Check out the rest of the tour here.
I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.


Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper (November 5, 2013)


  1. I really enjoying this one, too!

  2. Your review makes me want to get to know Ann and her writing myself!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.


© guiltless readingMaira Gall