06/04/2002

Breathing Lessons (by Anne Tyler)

I find Anne Tyler's writing intriguing. It's not my usual preferred genre - she doesn't go for emotional depth or introspection, and there isn't always much plot. Yet her observations are very clever, and there's a subtle irony in her writing that makes me return to her when I want a break from my usual saga or historical novels.

'Breathing Lessons' is a delightful novel which takes place in just a single day.

Maggie and Ira drive to and from the funeral of an old friend. Through their conversations and thoughts, and a series of flashbacks, we learn a lot about their personalities, lives and marriage.

Maggie is an eternal optimist of the lively and spontaneous type (most likely ESFP in Myers-Briggs terms, if I read her correctly) and Ira is a contrast, much quieter and more thoughtful. He holds her back at times; yet the bond between them is very strong.

In the end, after a disappointment, Maggie concentrates on preparing for the following day when their daughter is due to go to college, and relaxes in the contentment of her secure marriage.

This book apparently won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 - definitely recommended.

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