Genre: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Family Drama
Charming. An absolute delight and one accurate depiction of family relationships, human emotions and life like characters. I am still in awe at the experience and I think it will stay with me for a very very long time.
“But it was easier, somehow, to reflect on them all from a distance than to be struggling for room in their midst.”
The book centers around The Whitshank family, Abby (The Mother) and Red (The Father) and their four children then we shift timelines to Red’s Parents (Junior & Linnie) as they try to build The Whitshank name from the ground up and also The Grandchildren as they continue carrying on The Whitshank legacy. They appear happy and normal on the outside but with every family, there is always a crack on the inside filled with secrecy, failed relationship, sibling rivalry and so much more.
“It makes you wonder why we bother accumulating, accumulating when we know from earliest childhood how it’s all going to end.”
Anne Tyler’s ability to capture that feeling of home and family is truly remarkable and she makes a simple family gathering so interesting that you feel like you are sitting on the dinner table with the characters. I was hooked from page one by the simplicity of the book, I will admit not a lot of things happen but also a lot of things happen (
I know it sounds redundant) but Anne Tyler makes it work. The writing is simple and beautiful and balances out the complexity of these characters as individuals and amongst themselves. I swear you will see yourself or a family member in one of these characters. The attention-seeking sibling that always keeps to themselves, the over-caring mother who always tries to meddle into her kid’s life but she only means well, the distant workaholic father, you will grow with the characters familiarises with them even after closing the book it will feel like you left a dinner party. Layers and layers this book has you could talk about it forever.
“The trouble with dying,” she’d told Jeannie once, “is that you don’t get to see how everything turns out. You won’t know the ending.”
In the exploration of themes from what I have read on her backlog, she is very much centred on family dynamics, character exploration, the home feeling and just human complexity. The idea of old age and parent’s dependency on their children was touched on and it was heartbreaking. How certain humans hold on to material things such as house and the obsession of fixing it and perfecting it only to leave it in the end is an interesting point of view that she expands and I thank the book heavens that she has twenty more titles I can devour because her approach in tackling complex topics in such a simplistic way is everything. So, if you are looking for a more plot-driven narrative just pack your bags and leave because this book is most definitely not for you but if you are in need of a slow burner, a book that will tug at your heart-strings, one that you will grow and familiarise yourself with the characters… This is definitely one for you.
Have you read this book and if you are die-hard Anne Tyler fan tell me which one to read next…
So until next time stay Bookish 😉