I didn't know this, but this book came out in 1961/1962 and was a finalist for a book award, along with Catch-22. The novel is set in 1955 and features April and Frank Wheeler as the protagonists. The book starts with an awfully produced and acted amateur play starring April and viewed by Frank ad their other suburban neighbors. Frank and April's relationship quickly deteriorates (although there is a question as to whether it was any good to begin with), with extramarital affairs a la Mad Men making appearances and April convincing Frank that they need to uproot the family (they have two youngish children) in order to move to Paris. Many unexpected twists throw wrenches into the plans...I don't want to give too much more away.
I felt that this book was at heart a tragedy with the American Dream dying a death at the center of it all - Frank and April seem to have it all with a family, stability and a beautiful home in the suburbs and yet, they hate each other and their lives and their surroundings. The way that it was written was so beautiful and inescapable that I felt drawn in, watching a train wreck that I couldn't rip my eyes away from. I liked how Yates dealt with the everyday life of the middle class of the 50's - he didn't tell the story all from one person's perspective either. We learned about April from April, Frank from Frank etc. and this was really effective in showing us how miserable or clueless certain people were. I wish that I hadn't seen the movie beforehand because I had certain appearances stuck in my mind of what the characters looked like and what their mannerisms were and so I think that this ruined a truly beautiful book for me, even though it was only by a little bit. Definitely a must read.