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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel…

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (original 1982; edition 1996)

by Anne Tyler

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2,785582,101 (3.87)262
Title:Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Authors:Anne Tyler
Info:Ballantine Books (1996), Edition: First, Paperback, 303 pages
Collections:Your library, Read, owned
Tags:R 13, to Connie 1-13 retd 2-13, to Arlynn 11-13 ret'd 7-14

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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler (1982)


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Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
"There ought to be a whole separate language, she thought, for words that are truer than other words - for perfect, absolute truth."

This was my second book by Anne Tyler, and I read it for Mark's AAC. The first book of hers that I read was The Accidental Tourist, and I really loved that one. What Tyler does so well is to create quirky characters and then slowly peel back and reveal the layers. I find that her books are more of a character study than a plot driven narrative, so she is not for everyone, and it shows over on the AAC thread. I like her because I find that she always has something interesting to say about life, and because I think she is a keen observer. What she captures over and over again is brokenness. This novel had less humor than The Accidental Tourist, but it really spoke to me - perhaps because I come from the same type of dysfunctional family that Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant encapsulates. If you have read this book, then you have met my mother, and I have found that the same insights that Cody, Ezra, and Jenny gain as adults also apply to my mom. Because distance and time reveal truths.

I know that some readers have commented that nothing happens in this novel and that there is no character growth. That it's too depressing. But that's just it. Life is like that sometimes. Painful to experience and tortuous to watch unfold. We want the characters to escape, to be stronger, to make smarter choices, to walk away. To not look back. But that is the burden and also the blessing of family - it clings to you, ensnares you and refuses to let go without a fight. Not everyone rises above their circumstances, and we certainly, even when we know it is absolutely hopeless, want our parents to value us. To love all of us, even the parts they don't understand or agree with. And when they can not or will not, it hurts. It breaks us a bit. And this is where Cody and Ezra and Jenny are stuck - in their brokenness. They cannot distance themselves from their mother's grip. And this impedes their forward progress in life.

"At the funeral, the minister, who had never meant their mother, delivered a eulogy so vague, so general, so universally applicable that Cody thought of that parlor game where people fill in words at random and then giggle hysterically at the story that results. Pearl Tull, the minister said, was a devoted wife and a loving mother and a pillar of the community. She had lived a long, full life and died in the bosom of her family, who grieved for her but took comfort in knowing that she'd gone to a far finer place.

It slipped the minister's mind, or perhaps he hadn't heard, that she hadn't been anyone's wife for over a third of a century; that she'd been a frantic, angry, sometimes terrifying mother; and that she'd never shown the faintest interest in her community but dwelt in it like a visitor from a superior neighborhood, always wearing her hat when out walking, keeping her doors tightly shut when at home. That her life had been very long indeed but never full; stunted was more like it. Or crabbed. Or...what was the word Cody wanted? Espaliered. Twisted and flattened to the wall - all the more so as she'd aged and wizened, lost her sight, and grown to lean too heavily on Ezra. That she was not at all religious, hadn't set foot in this church for decades; and though in certain wistful moods she might have mentioned the possibility of paradise, Cody didn't take much comfort in the notion of her residing there, fidgeting and finding fault and stirring up dissatisfactions." ( )
5 vote Crazymamie | Jan 31, 2016 |
Pearl, who is dying, starts to reflect on her family. As she thinks of each one, we're effortlessly taken back to their cihldhood, family squabbles, and a vivid picture emerges.
The past and the present intertwine until the story comes full circle. Astute observations as ever with this author, and a generally pleasant read.
( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Tull family of Baltimore is dysfunctional. The father leaves the mother Pearl to rear the children alone. Only the son Ezra remains at home. He takes over management of a somewhat successful restaurant but manages to make it into one which struggles. The other children move on, rarely coming home, and interacting infrequently with the rest of the family. The book is well-written, but the narrative is slow and seems to have little point except the exploration of the dysfunctional family. Near the end of the book, I began to think this is the type of book that I'd probably enjoy more as a movie than as a book. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 19, 2016 |
Great book. Anyone who has crazy parents will know what this book is trying to say. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This novel is like a collection of old photographs, sorting through the Tull family history. There is Pearl, left abruptly by her husband with three children to raise; Pearl who is the master of denial and the queen of bitterness, but, really, just wants to live a life in which some happiness occurred. Cody, her oldest son, carries the family's jealousy and sense of being an outsider; he embodies that human tendency to look at other houses, where the living room light escapes into the darkening evening, and assume the people within are deeply connected and unthinkingly happy. Jenny is the hard-shelled daughter, the pediatrician who never lets anyone get too close, including the reader. And there is Ezra, the youngest child who is goodness personified. He is patient and kind, motivated by simple desires and an unshakeable optimism. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is not plotless, but its narrative arc is propelled by the unremarkable substance of everyday family life. In this, Tyler finds and exposes beauty, meaning, and drama. She skirts tiresomeness (just) and leaves the reader pleased to have known her characters. ( )
1 vote EBT1002 | Jan 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Every other year or so since 1964, loyal readers pick up their new Anne Tyler novel as they would buy a favored brand of sensible shoe. Each of her nine books is solidly constructed from authentic and durable materials. Yet traditional style and comfort do not necessarily mean dullness. Tyler's characters have character: quirks, odd angles of vision, colorful mean streaks and harmonic longings. They usually live in ordinary settings, like Baltimore, the author's current home, and do not seem to have been overly influenced by the 7 o'clock news. An issue in a Tyler novel is likely to mean a new child; a cause, the reason behind a malfunction in an appliance or a marriage.
added by Shortride | editTime, R. Z. Sheppard (Apr 5, 1982)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Tylerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leigh-Loohuizen, RiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marcellino, FredCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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While Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449911594, Paperback)

“Beautiful . . . funny, heart-hammering, wise . . . superb entertainment.”
–The New York Times

“A book that should join those few that every literate person will have to read.”
–The Boston Globe

Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not of her memory. It was a Sunday night in 1944 when her husband left the little row house on Baltimore’s Calvert Street, abandoning Pearl to raise their three children alone: Jenny, high-spirited and determined, nurturing to strangers but distant to those she loves; the older son, Cody, a wild and incorrigible youth possessed by the lure of power and money; and sweet, clumsy Ezra, Pearl’s favorite, who never stops yearning for the perfect family that could never be his own.

Now Pearl and her three grown children have gathered together again–with anger, hope, and a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell.

“A novelist who knows what a proper story is . . . [Tyler is] not only a good and artful writer, but a wise one as well.”

“Anne Tyler is surely one of the most satisfying novelists working in America today.”
–Chicago Tribune

“In her ninth novel she has arrived at a new level of power.”
–John Updike, The New Yorker

“Marvelous, astringent, hilarious, [and] strewn with the banana peels of love.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:34 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not her memory. It was a Sunday night in 1944 when her husband left the little row house on Baltimore's Calvert Street, abandoning Pearl to raise their three children alone: Jenny, high-spirited and determined, nurturing to strangers but distant to those she loves; the oldest son, Cody, a wild and incorrigible youth possessed by the lure of power and money; and sweet and clumsy Ezra, Pearl's favorite, who never stops yearning for the "perfect" family that could never be his own. Now grown, they have gathered together again-with anger, with hope, and with a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell.… (more)

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