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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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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Maggie + Ira - car trip reveals their life - son Jesse; daughter in law Fiona - seemed long? dull? Best Seller?

"Breathing Lessons" is the wonderfully moving and surprising story of Ira and Maggie Moran. She's impetuous, harum-scarum, easygoing; he's competent, patient, seemingly infallible. They've been married for 28 years. Now, as they drive from their home in Baltimore to the funeral of Maggie's best friend's husband, 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 a wife and husband can fall in love all over again, the way nothing really changes.
  christinejoseph | Sep 28, 2015 |
This starts off almost exactly like The Accidental Tourist, 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 The Accidental Tourist — 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... ( )
  thorold | Aug 24, 2015 |
Maggie and Ira Moran have been married for twenty-eight years and it shows. Maggie is an easy-going free spirit: impetuous, reckless and unpredictable. Her husband Ira is Maggie's polar opposite: amazingly competent, infuriatingly practical and seemingly infallible. Yet, despite all the countless petty squabbles, annoying routines and various personal eccentricities experienced in their life together, Maggie and Ira have managed to make their marriage work for almost thirty years.

Maggie considers herself to be a romantic matchmaker of sorts. Her life's ultimate mission is to unite people and bring couples together; whether they want to be connected or not. Ira secretly wonders if he should have married Ann Landers. In truth, Maggie is a meddler - a well-meaning meddler, yes, but a meddler nonetheless. She is a soft and loving person; who is determined to see only the innate goodness and limitless potential in the people she loves.

On a particularly hot summer day, the couple is driving to Deer Lick, Pennsylvania - ninety miles from their home in Baltimore - to attend the funeral of Maggie's best friend's husband. During the course of that journey, with its several unexpected detours along the way - into the lives of old friends and fully grown children, into fond memories of the past and valiant, if misguided, attempts to rearrange the present - the entire intimate story of a marriage is revealed. All the expectations, the disappointments; the way children can create storms within a family; the way that wife and husband can fall in love with each other all over again; the way that everything - and nothing - changes.

When I first started reading this book, I was expecting it to be relatively uneventful; even slightly boring. However, the story really was very interesting to me. I have always enjoyed reading Anne Tyler's work - in my opinion, she always does an excellent job with characterization and plotting. This was just such a book - a quick and easy read for me; pleasant and poignant, and filled with intricately familiar and well-developed characters. I give this book an A+! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Jul 31, 2015 |
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 |
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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 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.

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