This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Novelist Ann Patchett combines memoir and literature in her book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (2013). With 22 essays, Patchett offers a meditation on the writing life and a literary memoir all rolled into one, as she calls it. This book is a must-read for anyone who aspires to be a writer or is intrigued by the practices of professional writers.

Patchett’s multifaceted career as a writer and as a performer is well-documented in this book. This is a collection of essays that is largely autobiographical wherein she introduces us to the real world of Ann Patchett, with stories about her early years, her disastrous early marriage, and later, a happy one. A new love interest is introduced in each piece, and we learn more about the author’s own life story.

Her friendship with Lucy Grealy, which Patchett wrote about in her 2004 memoir “Truth and Beauty,” is a major source of inspiration for the book. This book covers a wide range of topics, including her family and friends, as well as the struggles and triumphs of writing and the unexpected joy of opening a bookstore, which garnered media attention.

Ann Patchett has a novelist’s attention to detail in her essays. Patchett examines her deepest commitments: to writing, her family (including dogs), her friends, books, and her husband. She reveals the people, places, ideals, and art that have shaped her as a daughter, wife, and writer as she tells stories of the people, places, and ideals to which she has remained indelibly committed.

Memorable Quotes

Sometimes love does not have the most honorable beginnings, and the endings, the endings will break you in half. It’s everything in between we live for.

Ann Patchett, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Art stands on the shoulders of craft, which means that to get to the art you must master the craft. If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say.

Ann Patchett, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

I imagine there are people out there who got a dog when what they wanted was a baby, but I wonder if there aren’t other people who had a baby when all they really needed was a dog.

Ann Patchett, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

The ability to have a friend, and to be a friend, is not unlike the ability to learn. Both are rooted in being accepting and open-minded with a talent for hard work. If you are willing to stretch yourself, to risk yourself, if you are willing to love and honor and cherish the people who are important to you until one of you dies, then there will be great heartaches and even greater rewards.

Ann Patchett, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Further Reading

Grading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage Essay By Essay by Kit Steinkellner, Book Riot

Ann Patchett “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Politics and Prose, Youtube

A Story We Tell Ourselves and Others by Randon Billings Noble, Creative Nonfiction

The Story of Marriage Everyone Needs to Read by Stephen Marche, Esquire

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