French Braid By Anne Tyler

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French Braid: A novel By Anne Tyler

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Book/Novel Author: Anne Tyler

Book/Novel Title: French Braid

 

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NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning author—a funny, joyful, brilliantly perceptive journey deep into one Baltimore family’s foibles, from a boyfriend with a red Chevy in the 1950s up to a longed-for reunion with a grandchild in our pandemic present.The Garretts take their first and last family vacation in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever leave home, but in some ways they have never been farther apart. Mercy has trouble resisting the siren call of her aspirations to be a painter, which means less time keeping house for her husband, Robin. Their teenage daughters, steady Alice and boy-crazy Lily, could not have less in common. Their youngest, David, is already intent on escaping his family’s orbit, for reasons none of them understand. Yet, as these lives advance across decades, the Garretts’ influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation. Full of heartbreak and hilarity, French Braid is classic Anne Tyler: a stirring, uncannily insightful novel of tremendous warmth and humor that illuminates the kindnesses and cruelties of our daily lives, the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us, and how close—yet how unknowable—every family is to itself.
Or is it everything? I leave the synopsis to others, but the main character of this book is Father Time. Just ordinary people leading ordinary lives over the decades, how the strands of these lives intertwine, with an overall feeling of sadness and nostalgia.Such nice writing!
I waited for this writer’s book, as I have read them all. What a disappointment! No character development and very little story line. Never again
Having loved previous Tyler books I couldn’t wait for this one. However, I was very disappointed. Nothing much in the way of plot, iffy character development, and way too much skipping around. And what was that first chapter?
I think I have read all of Anne Tylers books. I was born and raised in Washington, DC but spent quite a bit of time up the road in Baltimore. Reading this book is like a trip back home. I love the characters and families.
I have read and loved most of Anne Tyler’s books. I pre-ordered this one and was eager to receive it. What I have liked most about her works is that they have “heart” and they always teach me something about people and the human condition. This book failed in both respects. The primary characters, especially Mercy, are shallow, selfish, and self-absorbed. Her husband Robin is so weak as to be almost non existent. Secondary characters, like in-laws and most of the grandchildren are under-developed. Other reviewers have mentioned the cat episode. Rather than having the courage to tell the old gentleman that she can’t keep the cat (which she has had for months), Mercy lies, and says she’ll keep the cat. But after he leaves, she then promptly takes it to a shelter without even a moment’s guilt. She abandoned her husband with the same disregard, not being courageous enough to ask for a divorce, but moving to her own studio while still maintaining the pretense of marriage. Stylistically, the book is scattered and disjointed. I understand the metaphor of the French Braid. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for this family or this book.
I have loved every single one of Anne Tyler’s 20+ novels. I wanted to love this one, too. There are lots of glowing reviews here, but it just wasn’t there for me. All her other books have had memorable, well developed characters; not for their big personalities or flamboyance, but for the small quirks and character traits that she so brilliantly describes in her beautiful writing. Not so with this book. The ordinary people are just ordinary people. What was missing is the distinctive character development she is known for. And the plot? It was just all over the place. I won’t remember a single thing about this book. Maybe a novelist only has so many great books in her. I’d recommend going back and reading her early books if you’re not familiar with her writing or you really want to get a sense of what an Anne Tyler book is like and why she has been so beloved as a novelist.

 

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