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Atomic Marriage

Narrated by: Diane Lane
Length: 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

From NYT best-selling author Curtis Sittenfeld, a sharp-witted and utterly entertaining story about the most complicated and compromising partnership there is - marriage.

All marriages are hard. Many of them fail. Brock Lewis, an evangelical businessman turned self-published author, has the answer. Follow his international best-selling book’s 12-point “Atomic Doctrine” - make eye contact with your spouse? Always! Use the bathroom in front of them? Never! - and you, too, can build a marriage that thrives.

What Hollywood power broker Heather Thiesen knows about marriage is that hers is sputtering, anything but romantic, and utterly exhausting. But she still aspires to turn Brock’s book into the blockbuster romantic comedy she knows it can be - now she just has to convince Brock.

Narrated with depth and warmth by Oscar nominee Diane Lane, what follows is a remarkable story about the life partners we choose, the secrets we keep, and the compromises we make by one of America’s funniest and most astute cultural commentators.

©2018 Curtis Sittenfeld (P)2018 Audible Originals, LLC.

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Short, neat and astute look at modern marriage...

...through a Hollywood lens.

Multi-million bestselling self-help author Brock Lewis is visited by a Hollywood studio broker. His 'Atomic Doctrine' gives couples finding their marriages failing a series of rules to live by, from always kissing/hugging on meeting and leaving your spouse to never behaving in your own bathroom other than as you would in an airport bathroom.

Heather is coming to meet with Lewis in order to persuade him to allow a gay couple to feature in the forthcoming Hollywood rom-com adaptation of his book, knowing his evangelical leanings. She is invited to spend the night with his family to discuss her agenda. Her own marriage already quite sedate and drab, their initial conversations spark an immediate yearning in Heather, despite their differences in morality and the display of his own perfect-seeming marriage.

I could identify with Heather's situation, and her unbidden passion for someone she neither knows nor agrees with, and enjoyed the portrayal of the two contrasting marriages, as well as the closer observation of the imperfections.

At less than an hour in length, it's a short story that feels finished and rounded. I didn't yearn for a longer novel as I often do with novellas. I felt satisfied by the scope and conclusion of the story, and the issues raised and exposed.

It's a female narration, as I've come to know from Sittenfeld, with a mature woman bringing a little life experience to the character, and men, while they are given a voice, are background to Heather. Diane Lane, the voice artist, complements the character, giving both the experience and the impulsiveness required.

An intriguing listen, whether as a fan or someone new to the author. Will appeal more to female readers, though men will probably find the female perspective quite frank.

With thanks to Nudge for providing a sample Audible copy.

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Profile Image for Caroline
  • Caroline
  • 28-01-19

Bland

Short, pointless, no characterization.
This isn't a book, it's not even a short story, it's like the first chapter of a boring romance novel, but it goes nowhere. The characters are uncompelling and uninteresting.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kingsley
  • 04-01-19

Enjoyable but lacking any real oomp at the end

In 'Atomic Marriage' we get a glimpse into the lives of two people - Heather, a Hollywood studio exec, and Brock Lewis, a southern pastor and author of a marriage self help book, also called 'Atomic Marriage'. The book has some rules on how to do marriage including daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks, as well as rules about do's and don't's around each other.. When a movie studio wants to turn his ultra successful self help book* into a movie about three married couples, all neighbours, who live out the rules in Lewis' book.The studio has decided that to get a better audience share, one of the couples should be gay. Lewis, a traditional southern preacher, is not down with that and it is Heather's job to change his mind.

There is a brief coda, that follows months after the main story, just tying up events and giving some level of closure. But otherwise this story is a single day and a bit in the life of these two people.

(*Side note: please can we stop turning non fiction, no narrative, self help books into movies. Trying to capture the rules, situations and ideas of a self help book through the experiences of a handful of people just doesn't work.)

The attempt to convince Lewis to agree to the movie is a vehicle for a peak into the life of a 'self help guru' (even when that title is not one they chose, but one trust upon them) and into the on-the-brink marriage of Heather. The meeting of these two changes the way Heather sees the author, and how she sees her marriage.

While this is a short story, so we can only expect so much from it in terms of details, there is only two characters ion the book and only one of them feels really fleshed out. We get to know Heather, her history, what she thinks, and how she feels, because we are given insight into her thoughts and memories. We only see Brock Lewis through her and her interactions so we never really get a good idea of who he is, beyond the single day of their meeting. Because of this I feel Lewis get's a bit of a short shift in the story, made to be more of a villain or hypocrite than he really is. Heather doesn't fair much better, in term of appearing as a good person, but we can see her whole thoughts and feelings so it comes across as a more reasoned person.

The whole story is told in 3rd person, present tense. It's a strange style that I don't often see. First person present tense, or third person past tense are common. This is not. Despite being third person, we only really get an insight into Heather's head. So what is gained from the third person view is that the narrator can set the scene and location by pointing out things that Heather may not actively notice. But other than that I'm not sure how much is gained by the point of view choice.

Narration is 3.5 / 5

Narration by Diane Lane is good, but nothing spectacular. She provides southern accent for Brock, although otherwise it's not a significantly different voice, not overly male sounding. The third person narrator and Heather's spoken voice are also differentiated. Lane is well paced, clear and engaging.

There is no sound effects or music or anything added. It's a straight reading of the sort story, which is generally the way I prefer it.

130 of 144 people found this review helpful

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  • Katidid
  • 26-02-19

Agendas Abound

This book felt very much to me like it was all about agendas, instead of marriages. And it was put forth in such a way that if you don't agree with the author's agenda, then that makes you a "HATEMONGER". Very disappointing!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Michele
  • 09-01-19

A nice quick escape

I found this story to be surprising, entertaining, and even a little thought provoking. The performer was enjoyable. Easy listening . . . I even laughed out loud a time or two.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 25-01-19

simply horrible.

The best thing I can say about this book is thank goodness it was short. I kept waiting for some depth of character to come and rescue it from the garbage pail. Unfortunately that twist never comes. Don't waste your time, as short as it is, with this liberal, virtue signaling, trite, waste of an audible credit.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy
  • 04-01-19

Awful.

Glad it was free. Story went absolutely nowhere and subject matter was rather dumb. Don't mean to be insulting but I wish I had my 58 minutes back

156 of 176 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 28-01-19

More BS making southerners seem inferior to “refined” Hollywood types

Sittenfeld was trying to appear “open” to ideas from dumb southerners, but can we just get a break from hearing the same garbage over and over again? There are good people everywhere, even evangelical “hate mongers”. I can’t even describe how misinformed, ignorant, and close-minded this author is, which comes through in the words she writes. Does everything these days have to be so divisive?

19 of 21 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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  • T. Ryan
  • 07-01-19

Ended way to soon!

It’s like watching only 1/2 of a movie... I wanted to see where it would lead

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • SusanO
  • 05-01-19

Yuck

Don't waste your time. Amazon says the author is "one of America’s funniest and most astute cultural commentators." Believe that with this item, and I tell you about a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. There's nothing astute and I doubt you'll find anything funny--unless you are amused by overdone Alabama accents. If it hadn't been free, I'd be asking for my money book. As it is, I'm sad for the waste of time.

37 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kayla
  • 26-02-19

Propaganda

Just propaganda, judgemental, and "hate mongering" as the author likes to say. Typical "I'm open to the lifestyle choices of others, just not yours" theme.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful