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An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club)

A Novel
Written by: Tayari Jones
Narrated by: Sean Crisden, Eisa Davis
Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (318 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Oprah’s Book Club 2018 Selection

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to 12 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 profoundly 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 deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward - with hope and pain - into the future. 

©2018 Tayari Jones (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What the critics say

"Narrators Eisa Davis and Sean Crisden skillfully portray Celestial and Roy.... In Part One, the narrators read the couple's letters so intimately that the listener may feel like an intruder.... As every wedding vow is tested, the narrators breathe intensity into Jones's riveting prose." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pulls at the heartstrings

Rarely do you find a novel where you really love all the characters and you know someone heart has to break. I was listening intently till the end!! so good!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful book!

Loved this title but the only criticism I have is when the male narrator imitates the female voice. Voice is a powerful conveyor of character and when the male narrator performs the voice for Celestial one gets the impression of a meek and whinny woman; a contradiction to when the female narrator performs chapters as Celestial.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Beware the TERRIBLE narration

This story is slow, deep and cuts down to how a relationship can work and fail. It's not the best exploration of a marriage, but it definitely stays with you and leaves you thinking. I didn't find any of the main characters to be likable or worthy of sympathy or empathy. They all make questionable choices and no one seems to think any decision through. It's frustrating to go through this story with these characters and find out you like them even less than when you started. Roy is a self admitted cheater, even though he and Celestial only spent a year married. He considers raping and hitting her once he's released from jail, but being the stand up dude he is, he doesn't, and tells her so. The letters between them are laughable. No one would write letters like this.

And the narration is SO TERRIBLE. I have absolutely no clue why no one told the male narrator that his "woman's voice" was necessary. It was bizarre- imagine someone told you to say something in an old woman's voice. You'd make your voice creaky and slightly lower and maybe add some shake to it, right? This is exactly what the male narrator did when he voiced any woman. It made it as though Roy was talking with some old crone, not his young wife. Don't audiobooks have directors or anyone who helps the narrator with their reading and voices?? This was the most misguided choice for the male narrator to try put on a woman's voice instead of just reading in his own voice. Trust me, I would have understood who was talking without hearing it in a scratchy falsetto. The weirdest part was that the female narrator did not try to make her voice deeper when voicing the male characters so juxtaposing the two narration styles made the whole book disjointed and jarring to switch between the two.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

American Marriage

Very very well performed. Kept me interested on what was coming next. I hope you all will enjoy this book.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Heavy listen

Definitely a sad story about losing freedom, marital hardships, grief, loss and betrayal of friendships.
I am not sure the happy ever after ending was possible.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Couldn't stop listening

just when you think you know the way the heart may go, you are taken in a different direction.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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I was expecting more :(

I was expecting more from this book...I was kinda disappointed...the storyline was not that great

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • BDC
  • 2019-04-26

Heartbreaking and impossible to put away

The story is easy to get into and I like that they seperate the narration out between the characters but they continue using a man's voice for the female character during his section and it gives that character a different, weaker, whinier tone. Otherwise, the story is captivating and heartbreaking. It makes you question what you would do in their circumstances. Loved the ending. So glad they did an epilogue.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An American Marriage

This book is captivating, and entertaining. All of the characters in the book invokes one’s sympathy. I hope the ending will surprise you as much as it did me.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book, confusing narration

Like others have said, this is a beautifully written story. You will change your opinion on each character 10 times before you reach the end. Loving, desperate, hopeful and sad, this book does all the things. That being said, the male narration of the female characters voice is confusing. As indicated by others, it is pitchy, whining, and a far departure from the powerful voice of the female narrator. If you can get beyond that I would highly recommend.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisa N. Haynes
  • LANSDOWNE, PA, US
  • 2018-03-01

Loved the Story, but...

Any additional comments?

The book started slow and I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it and that would have been a pity because I have enjoyed all of Tayari Jones' work. Fortunately, the story picked up and I did enjoy it. My only big criticism is with the narration. The male narrator's depiction of Celestial or the other female characters didn't work for me. I found myself wondering how it would have worked if Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis narrated those passages together.

104 of 109 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kristen R King
  • 2018-05-04

So many “WTF” moments

Prepare to be underwhelmed. The only thing I truly enjoy about this book is that the characters are nuanced, neither all good nor all bad. There’s no one to really root for, it’s just a story about the complications of love and commitment.

Narration is good.

Ultimately, this story is OK. I just found myself throwing up my hands at so many points. It was like watching your trainwreck of a best friend repeat their relationship woes. It was like listening to the whiny excuses of ratchet individuals.

138 of 147 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • emankcin
  • 2018-07-01

don't get the hype

I was not impressed with the overall story and especially character development. Too much of the story is untold, the protagonist hardly changes even with everything that changes in his life and the wife's actions are completely off from the "strong independent women" the author tries to paint her as. No spoilers but all she does is what the men in her life push her too, she let's others fight her battles and is so passive...yet the author keeps saying what a strong modern women she is. I couldn't get past that to enjoy the book.

96 of 102 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Cindy Morris
  • 2018-05-11

Unredeemable characters

I found the story to be slow, monotonous and repetitious. I lost interest in the characters because they were hopelessly flawed to the point that I stopped caring about what happened to them. The best parts of the book were the beginning and the ending. The middle could have used a lot of editing.

142 of 152 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • KENNESAW, GA, United States
  • 2018-02-15

It was okay. Not what I expected.

The story was interesting but lack substance and depth. I kept thinking i missed something.

40 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gran-Gran78
  • 2018-02-12

All in One Day...

I listened to the entire book in one day...9 hours straight. I have never been captivated by a novel in my 40 years of life. I could see each word as they were narrated... especially Eisa's narration.
When the gentleman narrated the women's parts, it didn't feel as authentic, yet their performances were phenomenal. I want to thank my former school mate, Lashawnda, for recommending this read.

51 of 58 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • NMwritergal
  • Albuquerque, NM
  • 2018-02-11

Glad such a worthy author got the Oprah bump

I stumbled upon Jones' Silver Sparrow a few years ago and really liked it--more than this one, actually, though I did like this one. So often, really good authors (often authors of color) are totally overlooked, and you have to do a fair amount of hunting to find them amongst thousands upon thousands of books.

Jones managed to take really depressing and difficult subjects (the over incarceration of black men and wrongful conviction alongside the issues of marriage, children, fractured families, racism, and so on) and treat them in such a way that you get it--it's real--but you don't feel like opening a vein.

Roy was the most compelling and interesting character to me and the audio narrator bumped it up a notch. I wish there had been a different narrator for Celestial. While Davis was fine I was really craving Bahni Turpin, Angela Dawe, or Robin Miles, all of whom would have brought Celestial to life better.

Too often these days, authors write unlikable or really flawed narrators but write them in such a way that you can't relate, can't understand. In this novel, all three main characters are flawed (though nobody is downright unlikeable) yet you can still relate to each and understand why they are the way they are and do the things they do. That's no small feat to pull off.

I was rooting for all three main characters even though I couldn't imagine that it would turn out well for all of them!

35 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • calvin
  • Michigan
  • 2018-02-10

Love Letters To Life and Beyond.

An American Marriage is much more then the title suggest. A beautiful layered story told in an exchange of Love Letters. The narration was outstanding and the concept made this book a page turner. Highly recommended!

50 of 59 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • CharDae Bownes
  • 2018-03-01

great read

I really wanted to give this book 5 stars but the ending disappointed me. I guess I wanted nor, expected more, I'm not really sure. it was a great read all in all never took a liking to the female character Celeste. the entire book she grated my nerves. I would still recommend this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mia Garret
  • 2018-02-12

Unexpected

Shocking, beautiful, Human. This story rips apart fairytales and challenges what we believe is “real” between two people who decide to be married. I will probably listen again soon.

27 of 32 people found this review helpful