Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant [Paperback]
- Publication Date:
- 03 January 1998
- Modern & Contemporary
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Rating: A+If you have not ever read this book, stop reading this review right now, go pick it up, and don't do anything else until you're done. If you're still reading this then you're either disobedient or you know how truly fabulous this novel is. Anne Tyler is an absolutely genius writer. She takes a series of events that are seemingly nothing--seriously, nothing of "consequence" really happens in this book--but you're captivated from the first chapter.As I was reading I found myself feeling sympathy for which ever perspective was being used--she writes from Pearl, Cody, Ezra, and Jenny at different points throughout the book. When you're reading Cody you feel so badly for Cody, and (paradoxically) when you read Ezra your heart breaks for him. And it seems hard to imagine, having read any of the children's chapters, but you actually feel that Pearl (and her husband) as well are characters were rich and deep back-stories that are so complex.At the end of the book I found myself deeply saddened, to the point of near tears (if I hadn't been at dinner with my family in Fazoli's I'd probably have let the tears spill). I just felt that these characters were all so tragic, their lives so sad, and then I realized what Tyler's teaching--everyone is tragic. No one has the perfect life. Family is very nearly all anybody has, and it makes you re-think what you think of your family and closest friends.This book was easily, so easily, an A+ in my book. If I weren't a stickler for the grading system, I'd have given it an A++. It's really that good.
A wonderful tale of brothers trying to retrieve the past
There is no doubt Tyler wanted <em>Dinner</em> to be a character novel. The plot moves slow enough so that more emphasis is placed on the people within the constraints of the narrow storyline. The characters swell and grow beyond the plot, making them the focal point. For example, Cody does enough rotten things that it should be impossible for the reader to like him and maybe even go so far as to hate him and yet, one finds ways to feel sorry for him because he is not his mother's favorite child. He's not even her second favorite. I find it interesting that no matter how rotten Tyler made Cody out to be I couldn't help but pity him. His "lashing out" made me want to protect him and love him. He even had his quiet moments of kindness, "Cody took a pinch of Jenny's coat sleeve so as not to lose her" (p 61). In fact, all of the characters are this way. Pearl Tull is an abusive, angry mother but you have to pity her because her husband walked out on her for apparently no reason. She is left to raise three small children completely on her own. Cody, the oldest, is only eight when his father leaves. Jenny is the middle child and Ezra is the youngest. All three children grow to be self-absorbed adults with difficult-to-love personalities. And yet, yet you want them to be okay.
<i>Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant</i> is a funny, sad and entertaining reflection on the conflicting emotions at the heart of family life. As reluctant single mother Pearl Tull lies on her deathbed, she and her three children ruminate on their shared past, imparting wildly different versions of events. Tyler lends a depth to her characters and their thinking that makes them solid and authentic, despite their various flaws. In Tyler's fictional world, characters don't have to be lovable to be interesting. The book is a timeless study of the nature of family, love and regret.
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