Thursday, 9 June 2016

Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates

Young Hearts Crying by Richard Yates
First published by Delacorte Press in 1984.

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Purchased at Totnes Community Bookshop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Young, newly married and intensely ambitious, Michael Davenport is trying to make a living as a writer. His adoring wife, Lucy, has a private fortune that he won't touch in case it compromises his art. She in turn is never quite certain of what is expected of her. All she knows is that everyone else seems, somehow, happier' and it is this search for happiness that Yates explores in Young Hearts Crying. We follow the lives of Michael and Lucy, together and apart, over more than two decades as they strive to find their niches in life.

The first part of Young Hearts Crying is strongly reminiscent of Revolutionary Road. We have a similar chauvinistic male character, Michael, determined to be an author, but settling for a commercial writing job in the meantime and we see him and his wife meeting, dreaming, marrying and setting up their first home. The couple consider themselves perhaps a cut above their contemporaries and seek out cultured arty people to be their friends. Where this book differs though is that our female protagonist, Lucy, is a remarkably strong woman who doesn't end up being the destroyer.

I didn't like Michael at all, although reading about him was enjoyably compulsive. His arrogance blended with his alcoholic self-destructive streak make him a fascinating character and his I was frequently shocked not only by his attitude towards women, but also the steady stream of women prepared to put up with him. The gender differences in this novel certainly make me glad to be of a later generation! I found I could more easily identify with Lucy's search for her life role, despite lacking any proportion of her wealth. I squirmed at her creative writing class experience and found myself completely in agreement with her opinions of Bob Dylan!

Reading Young Hearts Crying for me was a similar experience to reading Kent Haruf or Anne Tyler novels. I liked seeing Michael and Lucy's lives develop over an extended period of time and found this book to be a real page-turner.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Richard Yates / Contemporary fiction / Books from America

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