This was the first book that I’ve read by Anne Tyler. I really don’t know what took me so long, but I am now totally in awe and humbled by her mastery. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant was a runner-up for the Pulitzer prize in 1982 and purported to be the favorite of author Anne Tyler of all of the novels she has written.
This book is about family and the memories we keep about our childhood. Anne Tyler has created a family that I will never forget- the Tull family. This book is about Mom Pearl and her three children- Cody, Ezra and Jenny.
Cody, the eldest, became a self-made man and had as little to do with the family as possible. Jealous of his brother, Cody stole Ezra’s fiancé.
Ezra, stayed in town, living at home. He worked at a restaurant until it became his and he renamed it the Homesick Restaurant. He always tried to have a family meal at the restaurant but they always broke up before the end – sometimes before the beginning.
Jenny threw herself into her studies at medical school and work. Her husband left her as well and she ended up in a different type of relationship.
After their father deserts the family they’re left to be raised by their mother Pearl Tull, a rigid perfectionist with a definite mean streak. What struck a chord for me was how all three children growing up in the same household could all remember their childhood so differently. Many important moments take place at the Homesick Restaurant, Ezra’s restaurant. However, they never seem to be able to get through a single dinner without some sort of conflict.
All of the characters in this book are so well drawn out. Anne Tyler has portrayed each one, with their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately made me care about all of them, including Cody, who was so easy to hate.
The story left me emotionally apathetic, untouched, yet, sad. I did not identify with anyone, but that was not the purpose of the book. The readers is suppose to understand the characters, and it happens quite rightly in this story. Anne Tyler builds a strong tale with strong figures filling in around the family theme, and that speaks to me. I love books about families. Romantic love does not play such an important role. The connection to reality is much more important and believable, and in some readers’ s choice of preferences, more acceptable.
I wish the author had written a sequel- I really want to know where their lives went after this book.
My Rating : 4/5