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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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3,558572,107 (3.59)184

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» See also 184 mentions

English (53)  Italian (1)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
A veritable celebration of traditional gender roles and cliched femininity. The nagging wife, the shrewish mother, the "free spirited" friend, the tomboy, the waif; they're all there. This book was a total embarrassment.

To be clear: I did not hate this book because Maggie is "annoying." She is annoying, but she is so precisely drawn you cannot help but give kudos to the author. It takes quite a bit of skill to find such nuance in a character.

I hated this book because no one grew. No one changed. No one looked inward, saw something lacking, and strove to do better (or worse). It was entropy defined. To the end Maggie cannot help but meddle in others' affairs. Fiona is still sullen and easily bruised. There was absolutely no emotional growth anywhere. Only Ira seemed to take anything away from the machinations of the day. You'd think after all the times her meddling blew up in her (and everyone else's) face, Maggie'd learn something. Nope. She just keeps blundering on, clueless to the end. ( )
  FleurdeMLIS | Aug 14, 2018 |
older husband and wife take a road trip to visit the mother of their son's baby. good read ( )
  margaretfield | May 29, 2018 |
I had a lot of trouble with Maggie, the main character, as she tries (with great hope and naivete) to shape everyone else's lives. Aside from that personal irritant, I enjoyed the book, especially toward the end, when her normally uncommunicative but loving husband reveals, silently, the burden and disappointment he carries.

Children who disappoint, lives that disappoint, families whose circumstances trap you in exactly the dead end you dreamed of escaping - it is the very normality of this pain that make the story so real. I'm suddenly reminded of Becket's 'Happy Day', in which a woman is progressively buried in a huge hill, and keeps proclaiming that each day is a happy day. Is that how most people end up feeling about their lives? I hope not.

There is some hope at the end. Maggie and Ira's daughter, who barely figures in the book because she has withdrawn herself from the family disaster, sets off for college. She might escape. Ira and Maggie, with no children to argue over, seem to rekindle their own relationship.
There may be satisfaction in the small things at the end. ( )
  ffortsa | May 4, 2018 |
This book was balm for my soul. ( )
  sblock | Mar 12, 2018 |
between 3.5 and 4. this is beautifully done, pretty much from beginning to end. anne tyler takes such mundane everyday things and makes them somehow into something extraordinary.

that said, i'm not sure if i was just tired or if it was the writing, but it felt a bit overdone by the end. admittedly i read most of the book in one long (overnight flight) sitting, and i do think it would have read differently had it been broken up over a few days. so it still gets a high rating from me because it was just so good otherwise, with such lovely commentary and insight. i really enjoyed it and loved the writing.

however, the last sentence threw me a bit and i find myself wondering what she meant, calling into question my interpretation of the rest...

"Maybe she'd pose as a Girl Scout leader, renting a little Girl Scout of her own if that was what was required."

"She'd been so intent on not turning into her mother, she had gone and turned into her father."

"...she was...not even what you'd call plump; just a satisfying series of handfuls..." ( )
  elisa.saphier | Apr 9, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Tylerprimary authorall editionscalculated
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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First words
Maggie and Ira Moran had to go to a funeral in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania.
Quotations
She would have made a better mother, perhaps, if she hadn't remembered so well how it felt to be a child.
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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)

During a ninety-mile drive to her best friend's husband's funeral, Maggie and her husband, Ira, recall and reevaluate the details of their twenty-eight-year marriage.

» see all 12 descriptions

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