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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 out of 5 stars (211 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

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)  

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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

Great book

This bpok flowed beautifully, I loved the characters especially Big Roy, loved the ending. Delightful & engaging from start to finish

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great story

This version is very well read and what a captivating story line! A definite must!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully expressed.

The emotions and journey described within these pages was expressed perfectly, in detail and perceptively. Such insight. What a great book. Thank you

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    1 out of 5 stars
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way too slow and repetitive

struggled to finish. the storyline was far too slow and because it flips between characters you just hear the same thing but from a different perspective. Not riveting.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Yvonne
  • Little Mountain, Australia
  • 21-09-2019

The Title is Wrong

I listened to the end but it wasn't the most riveting book I've read. The title doesn't fit the story.

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An assured and moving novel

Read beautifully, this novel is constructed through a series on first person narratives centred on the life of an African American man wrongfully convicted of a crime.

It’s a tough story, written with great skill and beauty. The multiple perspectives produce a picture in subtle shades. Highly, highly recommended.

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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.

123 of 129 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
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  • 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.

150 of 159 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

148 of 159 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
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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.

104 of 112 people found this review helpful

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

44 of 49 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 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.

54 of 62 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!

39 of 46 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Wendi
  • 03-05-2018

Maybe the Narration Ruined This For Me..

An American Marriage was okay. To summarize, a newly wedded couple (husband openly admits he has transgressions), were unlucky enough to be in a hotel room beside a rape victim. Some how the husband gets charged for the rape and ends up in jail. We assume he was tried and convicted for nothing more than being black.

The couple keeps up with writing to one another for a couple of years, and then the wife decides she can't take it anymore and falls in love with her childhood friend. The husband gets out of jail on appeal and goes back to try and salvage the marriage.

The narration is so monotone. I kept asking myself 'Why isn't he more upset about this??' There was no voice infliction to indicate any sort of feeling from the male or female narrator. It made the book less intense, less interesting, and less convincing.

I am grateful to Oprah for introducing me to dozens of books which I have loved since 1995. This just wasn't one of them.

-Wendi

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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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!

53 of 64 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.

30 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • Snowbound
  • 10-08-2018

Great performances...

The plot is slightly inevitable, but absorbing nonetheless, and very well performed...my only complaint is with the actual alleged crime. I have often said my worst fear (beyond the more obvious) is being arrested for a crime I did not commit in a place where I could not clear my name... a very real fear for the many black men today in supposedly enlightened western societies. The story is not set clearly in time, (characters have cell phones so it must be pretty recent), but I can't help feeling that even in the US surely a man could not be charged with rape today without some corroborating DNA evidence? Roy is intelligent and articulate and had a good lawyer, he wasn't on drugs and had a good job- surely this shouldn't have happened? Or am I being naive?

And what happened to the victim? If Roy didn't do it who did? Did anyone? Her story added in might have been a interesting 'fourth angle' rather than the traditional 'love triangle' we see here. Especially if she were to learn that Roy is to be freed.

And 'Celestial' is a REALLY annoying character name, which stopped me from warming to her as I could have done, being black and female myself.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lin Becker
  • 12-06-2018

Love and the Self Destroyed by Incarceration

This novel is devastatingly good. While I agree with some reviews that point out there is very little exploration of the criminal justice system, it doesn't matter. This novel is just so good in terms of how of a townie / city girl and a rural boy fall in love; and how they deal with the fallout of wrongful imprisonment comes back to their background. One can never really run from where one came from, one doesn't really change what one was born to. Prison reveals Roy's essential self. A propensity for violence is controlled and hidden away but then peaks in an unexpected, devastating way. Celestial has the privilege of never being sure of who she is and what she wants. Roy's imprisonment conveniently helps her to drift away and to continue to drift. The narrators are amazing and able to capture the heartbreak, rage and quiet torment faced. Also, I liked how Atlanta was lovingly described.

14 of 15 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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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-2019

Exciting start & finish, but disappointing overall

I was really looking forward to this book based on the good reviews.

The novel got off to an exciting and compelling start, but I felt that the majority moved sluggishly towards an ending that was foreshadowed from the outset.

Some parts of the narrative were incisive and authentic, but the reliance on conventional gender roles jarred with me. The male protagonist’s arrogance and sexism in particular distanced me from a character I felt I was supposed to like.

Regarding the narration, I found it strange that so much of the female protagonist’s voice was read by the male voice artist. This rendering was often childlike and pleading, which undermined Eisa Davis’ cool, convincing tones.

10 of 11 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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  • S. Hoover
  • 05-10-2019

too melodramatic

There were some engaging parts but the lack of proper characterisation made the relations feel implausible too often. Also, unfortunately, the main characters were far from likeable.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sigrin
  • 01-08-2019

Marriage counselling required.


This was good in parts, but in parr’s I just wanted to shake the people and tell them to look at the bigger picture and stop thinking of themselves.

I am not a fan of American narrations but this was bareable.

I personally think this is more suitable for an American market, so it was not entirely my cup of Darjeeling .

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-08-2019

Uplifting

Cleverly written held my attention throughout. Excellent narrators particularly Roy. I found the last few chapters very moving. Would highly recommend

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jade m
  • 03-10-2019

fairly average

narrator was good. enjoyed the socio political themes. average storyline. I wouldn't particularly recommend this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-07-2019

Okay but did not live up to the reviews

I was interested in the novel but lost interest in the characters. I did listen to the whole book but felt disappointed.

1 of 1 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
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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-06-2019

Not what I expected

The male narrator covering Celestial's voice? No. It diminished her to something of a carricature. The plot and characters had so much promise but in the end I didn't mind much who did what or ended up with whom...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful