A friend lent me a bag of books by Anne Tyler before Christmas - and what a gift they have been!
There was nothing more delightful during the summer holidays than to allow myself to read Anne Tyler on the front porch, helping myself to chocolate and cups of tea along the way.
Her characters are funny and humane. There is perhaps an element of repetition, or at least a pattern, in the fact that they are often about middle aged women re-examining the lives they have found themselves living. But the situation in each book is distinctive, and she vividly describes their complex relationships with the people in their lives. She is often intensely funny.
Here are some of the Anne Tyler books I've read and loved:
- The Accidental Tourist. This one has a middle aged man, Macon, as its main character. It is the story that has stayed with me the most vividly, of all Anne Tyler's books. Macon finds himself separated and isolated after a family tragedy, and has to find a new way to live in the world.
- Ladder of Years. Delia abruptly departs from her family to find out who she is when she lives alone.
- Back When We Were Grown Ups. Rebecca is a 53 year old widow who mkes her living by holding people's parties in her house. After being swept off her feet by her husband Joe Davitch (now long dead) and surrounded by his extended family for years, she starts to wonder what would have happened if she hadn't veered off her original course by marrying Joe.
- Breathing Lessons. This novel is about the less than perfect marriage of two opposites, who stay together despite the frustrations they create for each other. It's quite a stressful (but funny) book to read, as the spouses veer off course due to their differences. From Wikipedia:
"In her review in The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani writes, "In Miss Tyler's capable hands,...the Morans' outing...becomes a metaphor both for their 28-year marital odyssey, and for the halting, circuitous journey all of us make through life."