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An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club)

A Novel
Narrated by: Sean Crisden, Eisa Davis
Length: 8 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (108 ratings)
Non-member price: $35.87
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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

Critic Reviews

"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

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

Powerful and wonderful

A beautifully written story of terrible injustice and what relationships mean. The writing is superlative and the narration extraordinary. Such a beautiful book that has been brought to life in such a fantastic way.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Misleading title

I thought that a novel with a title l”An American Marriage” wold be more epic. Middle section drags, but the performances are great, I cared about Roy and Celestial because narrators made me care.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Stirs emotions

I wasn’t sure what to think about this story. I didn’t like the main character Roy but the feelings the author portrays are very raw. An excellent book. I couldn’t wait for the start and end of the working day to listen to it on the commute

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Maria

Beautiful, well paced and deep. Excellent performances by the readers. More than an expose on marriage - it’s the American dream under the microscope

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Favourite of the year

I’m looking forward to more from Tayari. This story is brilliant. Thank you for a very enjoyable and enlightening experience.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisa N. Haynes
  • 01-03-2018

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.

95 of 100 people found this review helpful

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

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.

78 of 82 people found this review helpful

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    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
  • 04-05-2018

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.

134 of 143 people found this review helpful

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    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
  • 11-05-2018

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.

141 of 151 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-02-2018

It was okay. Not what I expected.

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

39 of 44 people found this review helpful

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

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.

49 of 56 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • NMwritergal
  • 11-02-2018

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 40 people found this review helpful

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

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

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  • CharDae Bownes
  • 01-03-2018

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

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

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.

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs A Obozuwa
  • 09-02-2018

Fantastic Read!

An amazing tread of events with powerful emotions expressed on all levels. The Author’s description is very captivating. X

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • GIWI
  • 11-06-2018

Touching

it is impossible not to love this book! Funny, sad, romantic and tragic. The vocal performances were exceptional!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Zara
  • 12-03-2018

Narrators are incredible

The narrators really bring this story to life. This book stands out for the character perspectives of black Americans and their feelings towards a system rigged against them in America. Really eye opening and riveting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-04-2019

hmmmm

l loved the book, it's a good read. somethings u just can't come back from.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Samantha Wharton
  • 17-04-2019

touching

enjoyed the split narrated be allowing you to see all perspectives. really easy read/listen. Very gripping.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JJ
  • 08-04-2019

Powerful, subtle, sad and complex

This is a tale of injustice and how this impacts the lives and relationships of those directly and indirectly touched by an event, both initially, and over time. The story is powerfully told from the perspectives of each character and fully explores their complex relationships with one another. The author keeps us guessing until the very end when we have totally explored and have empathy for every character mentioned. I was so invested and engaged that I listened to the whole book in just two sittings. It was beautifully told and narrated and I highly recommend it!

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  • bookylady
  • 25-03-2019

A really moving story. An unusual love triangle.

This is an excellent story, told in very powerful prose. It explores the story of three young, professional people caught up in events beyond their control and exposes how the justice system works against the hopes and dreams of African Americans, even when they are law-abiding and hardworking people. Lives can be wrecked by wrong choices and the mistakes/prejudices of other people.

It was really moving and thought-provoking. All three narrators were excellent.

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  • bohobo
  • 24-02-2019

Just perfect.

Beautiful language all the way through. I can only compare the writing to Toni Morrison's, which is, of course, the very highest of praise.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Musicista
  • 22-02-2019

COMPELLING LISTEN

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to An American Marriage. An intimate story which made me feel like a voyeur. Delicious! I can see why it was selected for Oprah's Book Club. I thoroughly enjoyed and thoroughly recommend.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Masonia
  • 31-01-2019

Liked it

I liked this book more than I expected too. I liked the ending, it seemed realistic to me.