Breathing Lessons covers the events of a day in the life of Maggie Moran, nearing fifty, married to Ira and with two children.
Her eternal optimism and her inexhaustible passion for sorting out other people's lives and willing them to fall in love is severely tested one hot summer day.
Maggie and Ira drive from Baltimore to Deer Lick to attend the funeral of the husband of Serena, Maggie's childhood friend.
During the course of the journey, with its several unexpected detours - into the lives of old friends and grown children - Anne Tyler shows us all there is to know about a marriage: the expectations; the disappointments; the way children can create storms in a family; the way that wife and husband can fall in love all over again; the way that everything - and nothing - changes.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 03/01/1998
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099201410
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Review by thorold
This starts off almost exactly like <i>The Accidental Tourist</i>, with a middle-aged married couple having a row in a car. Which is probably Tyler having a little joke at the expense of the critics who complain that all her books are exactly alike, because it turns out to be a kind of mirror image of the earlier book. Maggie and Ira are resilient and tolerant enough to deal with each other's unreasonable behaviour when confronted with the problem of the empty nest. And of course Maggie is unreasonable in quite a different way from Macon in <i>The Accidental Tourist</i> &mdash; she's basically that stock figure of comedy, the person who habitually gets into worse and worse complications trying to cover up what was originally no more than a minor gaffe or a trivial accident. (Even her marriage to Ira turns out to have been the result of an awkward misunderstanding.) But Tyler draws her with such sympathy that we can't write her off as a stock figure: like the rest of Tyler's well-meaning eccentrics, we can't help feeling that she's got a strong resemblance to someone we know rather well...