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Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
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Breathing Lessons (1988)

by Anne Tyler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
This edition had a misprinted first page. Tyler has a wonderful command of detail that paints vivid pictures to give the reader the sense of actually being there. ( )
  PhyllisHarrison | Mar 5, 2014 |

This novel is a day in the life Maggie and Ira Moran, who have been married for 28 years. They start the day by attending a friend’s funeral and end it by dealing with the consequences of Maggie’s unstoppable impulse to involve herself in other peoples’ lives. Although the action of the novel is contained within that one day, the narrative explores the relationship between Maggie and Ira as they reflect upon their lives and their marriage.

Tyler is immensely skilled at creating memorable characters. In this novel, as in many of her others, her main protagonists are somewhat flawed and very real. Although I don’t think I’m like Maggie or Ira – or at least, I hope I’m not like them - as someone who has been married to the same person for thirty-five years, I identified with some of their dilemmas. Moreover, the account of their relationship made me reflect on my own relationship. The novel moved me to laughter and to tears, which are the reactions I’ve come to expect in response to Tyler’s wonderful writing.

This book has sat on my bookshelf for the best part of twenty years. I thought I was embarking on a re-read, but once I started it became obvious that I hadn’t read it before. It was great to discover a “new” Anne Tyler novel. While it didn’t move me in the same way as [b:The Accidental Tourist|60792|The Accidental Tourist|Anne Tyler|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327936319s/60792.jpg|1070136] moves me, reading Breathing Lessons was an emotional journey, which I enjoyed sharing with my friend Jemidar. Anne Tyler is an amazing writer and this novel is a worthy winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

4.5 stars, but only because I prefer [b:The Accidental Tourist|60792|The Accidental Tourist|Anne Tyler|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1327936319s/60792.jpg|1070136].
( )
  KimMR | Apr 2, 2013 |
From the cover - 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 unexpected detours - into the lives of old friends and grown children - Anne Tyler shows us all there is to know about a marriage; 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.
What superb character portrayals of a group of very ordinary people on a very ordinary day. Anne Tyler has a wonderful eye for detail and an accurate ear for conversation. This book is an amazing observation of the true and ordinary. ( )
  HelenBaker | Dec 28, 2011 |
I think I must have missed something with this book. It won the Pulitzer and was also the Time Book of the Year for 1989. I really don't get it. I mean, it was fine. It was just the story of an average married couple, traveling to a funeral and back. Nothing terribly exciting happens. The characters were completely forgettable and felt really cut and dry for me. Not a lot of depth.

Overall, I didn't get bored or annoyed while reading the book, but it left pretty much no impact on me. ( )
1 vote agnesmack | Sep 4, 2011 |
I wasn't very taken with the novel at first. Maggie and her bickering with her husband, Ira, exasperated me--as it did her husband. But his affection for her was evident by the end of the first chapter, and by then I felt a similar emotion for this middle-aged American Emma. Like Austen's Emma, Maggie does real damage with her interference--but does have heart.

The story was studded by flashbacks in the midst of this tale of a day in which Maggie and her husband of 28 years travel to the funeral of the husband of Maggie's best friend Serena--and take a detour to visit their son's divorced wife and their granddaughter. Parts from Maggie's perspective bookend a part from Ira's point of view, forming a meditation upon love and marriage. I remember first being charmed by the story of Maggie's crush on one of the nursing home patients where she's an aide. She fantasizes about this courtly man at times when she's feeling sour about her marriage, only to realize that what she loves in the man is that he's like Ira. Maggie is meddlesome and ditzy, her husband tactless and aloof, but both of them are good people, and the novel is filled with sharp insights and warm humor.

For all that, I didn't lose my heart to the book, and unless I love the other two novels in the omnibus edition I own more (Accidental Tourist and Searching for Caleb) I doubt it'll remain much longer on my bookshelf. That isn't the fault of the book, really but it's just this isn't quite the kind of book I love. It never made me spellbound with the prose, or tempted me to dogear a page because of an unforgettable line, there's no twist. These aren't extraordinary people or ordinary people faced with the extraordinary, or set in an exotic land of long ago. They're just the people next door--written with insight and affection, but not quite what I look for in a novel. Rather this is what might be called "domestic drama." A The Corrections without the literary pretentiousness of style, and much more likeable characters. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | May 2, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Tylerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alepsiou, GeorgiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Antmen, AhuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Etsuko, NakanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fedyszak, MarekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoffenberg, JulietteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaiser, ReinhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marion, DivinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Preis, AnnikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rifbjerg, IngeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roald, BodilTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salvà, GemmaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Samcová, JarmilaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schenoni, LuigiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tex, Gideon denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Villa, SaaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vinga, Sophie PenberthyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Maggie and Ira Moran had to go to a funeral in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345485599, Mass Market Paperback)

Maggie Moran's mission is to connect and unite people, whether they want to be united or not. Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband, Ira, drive 90 miles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira contemplates his wasted life and the traffic, while Maggie hatches a plant to reunite her son Jesse with his long-estranged wife and baby. As Ira explains, "She thinks the people she loves are better than they really are, and so then she starts changing things around to suit her view of them." Though everyone criticizes her for being "ordinary," Maggie's ability to see the beauty and potential in others ultimately proves that she is the only one fighting the resignation they all fear. The book captured the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1989.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:54 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A charming tale of an extraordinary day in the lives of two ordinary people. What begins as a two-hour road trip to a neighboring town turns into an all-day adventure for Ira and Maggie Moran.

» see all 5 descriptions

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