This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

by Ann Patchett


$15.29 $16.99 Save 10% Current price is $15.29, Original price is $16.99. You Save 10%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, January 24
55 New & Used Starting at $1.99


A Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick

"As the best personal essays often do, Patchett's is a two-way mirror, reflecting both the author and her readers." —New York Times Book Review

In this thoughtful collection of essays, New York Times bestselling author Ann Patchett brings her narrative gifts to bear on her own life, using insight and compassion to turn very personal experiences into stories that will resonate with every reader.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage takes us into the very real world of Ann Patchett’s life. Stretching from her childhood to the present day, from a disastrous early marriage to a later happy one, it covers a multitude of topics, including relationships with family and friends, and charts the hard work and joy of writing, and the unexpected thrill of opening a bookstore.

An irresistible blend of literature and memoir, this "sparkling collection" (The New Yorker) is a unique examination of the heart, mind, and soul of one of our most revered and gifted writers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062236685
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 50,893
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

ANN PATCHETT is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction, Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer, Lucy Grealy, What now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and, most recently, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays.

In November 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her partner Karen Hayes. She has since gone on to be a spokesperson for independent booksellers, talking about books and bookstores on “The Colbert Report,” NPR, “The Martha Stewart Show” and “The CBS Early Show.” Along with James Patterson she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Ann Patchett lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky.


Nashville, Tennessee

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1963

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1987

Table of Contents

Nonfiction, an Introduction 1

How to Read a Christmas Story 16

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life 27

The Sacrament of Divorce 92

The Paris Match 106

This Dog's Life 112

The Best Seat in the House 122

My Road to Hell Was Paved 132

Tennessee 151

On Responsibility 163

The Wall 170

Fact vs. Fiction 231

My Life in Sales 245

"The Love Between the Two Women Is Not Normal" 259

The Right to Read 280

Do Not Disturb 294

Introduction to The Best American Short Stories 2006 304

Love Sustained 317

The Bookstore Strikes Back 338

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage 358

Our Deluge, Drop by Drop 409

Dog without End 414

The Mercies 427

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Donna_Coleman More than 1 year ago
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a sheer delight. It really gets in deep to the notion of writing nonfiction – what that type of art really is and how utterly unique it is. The book balances between essays about life and philosophy about life. It is really an incredible balancing act. Five stars.
BerylSBissell More than 1 year ago
If you love Ann Patchett’s novels, prepare to fall in love with the author herself when you read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I was so enchanted while reading this book that I brought it along to read aloud to my husband as we drove the 2,000 miles from Northern Lake Superior to our winter home in Florida. He laughed so long and hard that I wondered if I should do the driving to maintain control of the wheel. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is so much more than an enchanting collection of personal essays. It is a surprisingly intimate view of Patchett: the young girl growing up in a miss-matched family, the young writer struggling towards a career, the star-crossed lover, the cherished friend. In her essay “The Get-Away-Car,” Patchett shares her best and wisest advice on how to become a writer. Bringing her self-effacing humor and profound insight to every page, Patchett writes about her dog, her grandmother, the nun she feared as a child and learned to love as an adult, the hilarious saga of a road-trip in a Winnebago through Montana. Written and published over a period of years and compiled in this book, these essays blend the past with the present in an almost seamless story-telling event.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
This was my first book by Ann Patchett-a very insightful look into the ups and downs of Patchett’s life, her writings, marriage, family, dog, and the people who came in and out of her life. A collection of short essays which were published in the NY Times, WSJ, Washington Post and others. (how a writer supports herself while trying to earn income and have time for writing and the process). She tells her story about her trials, experiences, successes, failures and her search for love and happiness in personal and business. All of the essays are tied together with a background of her life and history of the articles she wrote. This book inspires all of us whether writing short stories, blogging or novels. Makes readers appreciate all our favorite author’s efforts and what it takes ---Thanks for sharing your life lessons! I look forward to reading more from this author.
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
Great book for Patchett Fans  Note: I received This is the Story of a Happy Marriage from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.  I've been an Ann Patchett fan for years. I loved State of Wonder and adored The Patron Saint of Liars, so when I was given the opportunity to read about Ann Patchett by Ann Patchett, I jumped. And boy, am I glad I did! Confession: I had no idea she started out writing magazine articles. I consider myself to be pretty up-to-snuff when it comes to the writing histories of authors I love, but for some reason I never did much Patchett research. I think this is probably a good thing because it lent an air of mystery to her work. My favorite essay from the book was The Getaway Car. In it, she discusses how she became a writer and gives advice (like don't get an MFA because it's a waste of money) and her self-deprecating process of writing a book. In it, she details the circumstances around writing The Patron Saint of Liars, which is my favorite book by her, and I loved reading the backstory. I think I might actually go back and reread it now that I have some insight into her writing processes. Voracious readers will love this book. As a writer who is writing about writing (follow all that?), Patchett's love for all things literary is palpable. I, for one, relished in her descriptions of reading, wanting to be a writer as a child, putting pen to paper, and actually put down the book to write a short, personal essay just because she inspired me. But enough talking about the book. Run to the library and get your copy NOW!   Allison @ The Book Wheel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book for anyone who loves excitement, adventure, and romance. The character development is beautifully done through expert use of adjectives and humor. Kier and Jon Marc are people you would love to have in your circle of friends. You are transported to a different world similar enough to earth to be believable but different enough to challenge you to imagine how it might be to live there. I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very enjoyable collection of essays, mostly about writing and the life of a writer. The title essay was probably the best one, but it's really the only one about her marriage. The rest could be considered a metaphorical marriage, in the sense that writing is a life-long passion for her and her longest-term commitment, but it was not what I expected from reading the jacket and some of the other reviews. Still, she's a good writer and I'm very glad I found this. I've read two of her novels but nothing of her nonfiction writing before. I found her thoughts on what education and true creative thinking are most inspirational.
duchenf More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed getting to know Ann Patchett through her essays. I liked the variety and she is an excellent writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That about sums it up for me. So much good life experience. Lessons from childhood, work, lovers, religion, school, pets. All interwoven and beautifully written. My copy is full of highlighting, and each time I read it I add more. If you can, purchase a copy from an independent bookstore. Or run to your public library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly enjoyable
TRFeller More than 1 year ago
I live in Nashville, where Patchett also known for opening a bookstore (Parnassus Books) at a time when conventional wisdom said that bookstores are obsolete. This is a collection of her essays that were originally written for magazines and newspapers such as Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New York Times, Vogue, The Wall Street, The Washington Post, and other publications. The essay that provides the title, however, was originally published as an original work for the web site, the Internet’s leading retailer for audio books. Many of the essays are autobiographical (the happy marriage is her second), and I learned a lot about her that I had not known from the general media, even in Nashville.
frydaddy More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book, nice to read short chapter stories for a change. Love patchett so my be a little prejudiced.
MahMah More than 1 year ago
... because altho it DOES contain a goodly story of a happy marriage, it encompasses soooo much more than that! Patchett opens up her entire life in short narratives that left me riding the entire spectrum of human emotion! If one has any ambitions about becoming a writer I would recommend that you rush out to buy this book and read and REREAD it before you even begin to THINK about putting your thoughts to paper (or computer)... Patchett not only writes 'in spades' -- she tells you HOW to do it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whether you are a fan of Ann Patchett or not, you will enjoy this series of memory stories. I especially liked the title story and the one about Rose, the dog. Written in an acessible, conversational style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent writing, interesting topics........ just not my kind of thing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do something about these constant glitches, BN! Your customer service sucks!