This is one of two books that I finished on the last week of 2011. I must admit that I only knew of this book because of the movie (which I haven't seen yet). In fact, I thought that it was a new book, and it was only after I had finished the book and searched online did I know that it was actually published in the 60s.
The Wheelers are a young, beautiful suburban couple who seemingly have all. Nice house, cute kids, enough money. Living the American dream. But things aren't going that well in the Wheeler household. The couple were formerly artistic bohemian types, who somehow settled into suburban life. April was an aspiring actress while Frank was a "thinker" or rather a talker. They feel discontented and trapped and fancy themselves different and a cut above all their other mundane neighbors.
But living in suburbia has gotten to them and they feel that they're missing out on life. And worse, that they are turning into the suburbanites they look down on so much. In a desperate attempt to recapture the carefree feel of their relationship before marriage, April suggests they move to Paris. Frank initially scoffs at the idea but is soon sucked in to the plan. However, april gets pregnant and Frank gets a possible promotion, prompting second thoughts on his part. April, increasingly desperate, performs an abortion on herself with disastrous results (can there really be any other result other than disastrous?).
I don't know if it's just me, but the book felt very modern to me, even it it was set in the 50s. Maybe because the emptiness of suburbia is still a very common theme in art even up to now. Now the characters, they certainly weren't likable. And April is so obviously disturbed like needs professional help level. But I could relate. I'm not artsy by any stretch of the imagination but I used to hang out with that crowd, the musicians and artists. So now that I have a family and have fuckin responsibilities and a job, I sometimes feel like I've been left behind. Like I could be doing so much more. Obviously, not as extreme but I'm sure you guys get what I mean.
So yeah, even if they weren't that likable, I get them. I get what they're feeling. And it's tragic. Thank Dog I'm not.