Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler

Pearl Tull(sp?) is on her deathbed and looking back over the events of her life. As she - rather dreamily - does this, the narrative flashes back and focuses on the stories of some of the members of her family: her sons, Ezra and Cody, and her daughter Jennie. Not to mention her husband Beck, who walked out when the kids were small and never came back.

This reminded me a bit of Going Gently - not just because of the setup, but because I think there were too many characters in the book: some of whom I wanted to know more about (Ezra) and some I was less interested in. In fact, I think I'd have been happy with just the story of Ezra and Cody.

Ezra is a kind of gentle giant of a man, who never seems to have a harsh word to say about anybody. Cody, his elder brother, has always resented what he sees as Ezra's ability to make friends and win favour from his mother, and when Ezra becomes engaged to the plain Ruth, Cody becomes fanatical about winning her from him. The story of what happens here would I think have sustained the book by itself, without needing any of the other plot elements.

There was a good bit here where Cody was talking to his mother, and she told him she knew what he was up to. He asked her what she meant, because "He had reached the stage where he would angle and connive just to get someone to utter Ruth's name"

The writing was, as usual, very good. I didn't make notes but one thing that stuck in my mind was when Cody returned home to see Pearl after a long absence, and while she was telling him about all the events he'd missed, he homed in on an inconsequential comment she made and asked about it. And she says that Luke, Cody's son, had a mental image of Cody putting his hand into a tangle of string, and trying to get hold of the one loose end that wasn't attached to any other piece.

A good one, but not as good as Breathing Lessons or The Accidental Tourist.

Completed : 18-Jun-2007

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