Set in the 1950s in the mundane suburbs of Connecticut this novel is the story of the disintegration of the Wheelers. Frank and April Wheeler like to think they are an untypical middle class family living in the suburbs. Frank has lost his direction and works at Knox Business Machines where he apathetically fights his overflowing in-tray. April is a typical 50s housewife looking after the two kids. April a failed aspiring actress starts the novel in a local theatrical group play which is a disaster. This sows the seeds of her discontent. The couple discuss plans to escape from suburbia to live in Paris where April will work and Frank will find out what he really wants to do with his life. They discover that they don't really like their best friends Milly and Shep Campbell who are horrified at their plans to move to France. Frank has an affair with an attractive secretary at work. The Wheelers are visited by the Givingses who have a mentally ill son about the Wheelers age. The son takes to the Wheelers and their plan to move to France. However unfortunately April gets pregnant again and this throws their plans into disarray. Frank wants the baby and when April says she wants to terminate the pregnancy Frank refuses and suggests she needs psychotherapy. The disagreement drives the Wheelers apart and they argue terribly. Finally April takes things into her own hands and tries to abort the foetus causing her own tragic death. This novel is so expertly written Richard Yates has been described as a writer's writer. It is a tense psychologically observed book about the American suburbs.
This report prepared by John Marcel