This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett is “an examination of things she is committed to – the art and craft of writing, the depths of friendship, an elderly dog, and one spectacular nun.” (cover blurb). Her writing is sublime (See State of Wonder, Patron Saint of Liars, and Bel Canto – all great fiction) and she exudes compassion as she tells her tales in essay form. This book is a mix of life and philosophy all told with humor and a smooth command of language.
Patchett began as a nonfiction writer for magazines. She eked out a living and was able to turn to fiction. She always knew she was going to be a writer and stayed focused in learning the craft.
P. 21 “ We all have ideas, sometimes good ones. …The story is in us, and all we have to do is sit there and write it down. But it’s right there…that things fall apart.” She goes on to discuss the actual writing and how difficult it is to commit to paper. “The book I have not written yet is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patter, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal…it is the single perfect joy in my life. But to go from three dimensional to the flat page is to have a dry husk of a friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled and poorly reassembled. Dead. That is my book.”
She is being modest. Her “dead book” is generally a well-received, well written tome. But the writing process is not easy and if you do any writing at all, you will chuckle at her descriptions.
This collection of essays has her dating, divorcing, and finding true love. It has her on book tours, and opening her own book store just when the world says independent book stores are doomed. (NOT) It has her dealing with her elderly grandmother with quiet exasperation. All in all, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a visit with Ann Patchett. So, pour a cup of tea and settle in with an old friend. You’ll be a fan for life.