Prompt – A book that won an award in 2019
For this prompt I have picked An American Marriage by Tayari Jones which won the The Women’s Proze for fiction in 2019. I read this as part of a bookstagram buddy read which was a great opportunity to read and disxuss the book with other people.
What it’s about?
Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.
Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding.
As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.
This stirring love story is a deeply insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward- with hope and pain- into the future.
What I think:
This is such a powerful and moving book.
The chapters are told from different characters pointa of view and the letters they wrote to each other. Each voice is clear and engaging.
Roy is accused of rape and despite the lack of evidence is conceited. Jones does not specify the race of the woman who has accused Roy, but I made the assumption that it was a white woman as the theme of racism in society and prejudice within the American justice system is a thee throughout the book.
Roy and Celestial have not been married for long when the incident occurs and there are already cracks in their marriage. The reading group had a long discussion about their marriage and I did not think it would have survived even without Roy’s imprisonment. Roy and Celestial are very different people and come from different backgrounds. They don’t seem to want the same things.
Roy is ambitious and driven. He takes chances and sees opportunities to improve his status and financial situation. Celestial has grown up with wealth and parents who support her creativity as an artist. Roy struggles to accept Celestial’s wealth and it is an issue if tension in their marriage.
As they drift apart they both seek comfort in different places. Celestial turns to childhood friend Andre who has always had feelings for her. He understands her in a way Roy doesn’t and is a safe haven for her as she struggles with the breakdown of her relationship and her success as an artist.
Roy develops a friendship with a fellow prisoner and later, when released, finds physical comfort with a woman from his home town.
The characters are complex and feel deeply. The lines between right and wrong in their relationships are blurred as they navigate their fates.
There was so much to discuss around this novel – it’s a great choice for a bool club.
An American Marriage can be ordered from”
Waterstones: click here
Amazon.co.uk: click here