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Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Breathing Lessons (1988)

by Anne Tyler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,189381,748 (3.61)111



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Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
I have owned this book for a long time. When i picked it up a couple of weeks ago, I assumed I would be reading it for the second time. But I didn't recognize anything -- not the characters, not the story, not the time and place. Perhaps I started it once but didn't finish it. That would be understandable because I did not find it an enjoyable read. I couldn't help being irritated by Maggie every time she opened her mouth. We all have times when we wish we could "fix something" but Maggie wanted to fix everything and everyone in her world. Distressed that her son and daughter-in-law had broken up and her granddaughter Leroy was growing up without her, she sets out one day to revive their marriage. Her husband Ira has no love for their son Jesse and makes no bones about it, which complicates her task. Poor Maggie -- a hopeless busy body with a big heart. At times Ira seems not to really care about anyone except his aging father and his two dysfunctional sisters. He shows more compassion and understanding for Maggie in the last two pages than anywhere else in the story. But even this did not redeem the plot line nor leave the reader feeling anything but let down. Endings are difficult to write, but I have always felt they should be either happy, or hopelessly emotionally sad. Breathing Lessons did not leave me feeling either one. ( )
  suztales | Mar 6, 2015 |
This is definitely not a book I would normally have picked out for myself. And while it was very well written and kept my attention throughout, in the end I found it kind of disappointing. I kept waiting for something to really engage me and in the end nothing ever did.

I can see why this was so popular when it came out. It is easy to read. The average person, especially those like myself that are approaching middle age and are going to more funerals than weddings, can definitely relate to the way the two main characters view their lives. I am finding as I get older regrets over paths not followed occupy my thoughts more and more, and that is well reflected in this book. I know it sounds trite but in the end the book is about relationships; between husband and wife, parents and siblings, friends and coworkers. I recognized very clearly the nature of all of these as I have experienced them at one time or another. So in those terms the book hit its mark. However, it didn’t go much beyond that.

First, some parts were simply not believable. The author spends a great deal of time making what I have described above very relatable, yet in order to illustrate those she puts the characters in very unbelievable situations., situations I can honestly say I have never been in and in which I am certain the average person has probably never been either. So there was a real disconnect there in my mind.

Second, the characters seemed to display the exact same character flaws their entire lives, like they are just incapable of learning from past mistakes. It became frustrating to read, and made the book pretty predictable in places.

Lastly, and this is a function of the time in which it was written, but so much of what happens in the story is the result of the characters not being able to quickly communicate with each other. I can’t help but think that had this same story taken place in 2014 it would have lasted all of ten pages as virtually every crisis could have been resolved with a quick cell phone call.

Overall quite enjoyable but not overwhelmingly interesting, which given the acclaim (and awards) it has received, is a minority opinion. ( )
  mybucketlistofbooks | Jan 10, 2015 |
Read during Fall 2004

Anne Tyler is at her best making characters that you end up liking even though they are annoying or irritating. I didn't really like Maggie, with her constant interference in other's lives but I did end up tolerating her more than I expected. She wasn't quite endearing, as I think she was meant to be, but there was some kind of quality to her that worked. The whole novel really drew me in but then it ended with a kind of whimper that was disquieting.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:04 -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 8 descriptions

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