Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel

by Anne Tyler

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“Funny, heart-hammering, wise…An extremely beautiful book.” —The New York Times

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

Abandoned by her wanderlusting husband, stoic Pearl raised her three children on her own. Now grown, the siblings are inextricably linked by their memories—some painful--which hold them together despite their differences. Hardened by life’s disappointments, wealthy, charismatic Cody has turned cruel and envious. Thrice-married Jenny is errant and passionate. And Ezra, the flawed saint of the family, who stayed at home to look after his mother, runs a restaurant where he cooks what other people are homesick for, stubbornly yearning for the perfect family he never had. Now gathered during a time of loss, they will reluctantly unlock the shared secrets of their past and discover if what binds them together is stronger than what tears them apart.
Soulful and redemptive—full of heartbreak and hope—this portrait of a family will remind you why Anne Tyler is one of the most beloved writers working today.

“[In Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Tyler] has arrived at a new level of power.” —John Updike, The New Yorker

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307784520
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/09/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 46,027
File size: 987 KB

About the Author

ANNE TYLER is the author of more than twenty novels. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Hometown:

Baltimore, Maryland

Date of Birth:

October 25, 1941

Place of Birth:

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Education:

B.A., Duke University, 1961

Read an Excerpt

1
Something You Should Know
 
While Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occurred to her. It twitched her lips and rustled her breath, and she felt her son lean forward from where he kept watch by her bed. “Get…” she told him. “You should have got…”

You should have got an extra mother, was what she meant to say, the way we started extra children after the first child fell so ill. Cody, that was; the older boy. Not Ezra here beside her bed but Cody the troublemaker—a difficult baby, born late in her life. They had decided on no more. Then he developed croup. This was in 1931, when croup was something serious. She’d been frantic. Over his crib she had draped a flannel sheet, and she set out skillets, saucepans, buckets full of water that she’d heated on the stove. She lifted the flannel sheet to catch the steam. The baby’s breathing was choked and rough, like something pulled through tightly packed gravel. His skin was blazing and his hair was plastered stiffly to his temples. Toward morning, he slept. Pearl’s head sagged in the rocking chair and she slept too, fingers still gripping the ivory metal crib rail. Beck was away on business—came home when the worst was over, Cody toddling around again with nothing more than a runny nose and a loose, unalarming cough that Beck didn’t even notice. “I want more children,” Pearl told him. He acted surprised, though pleased. He reminded her that she hadn’t felt she could face another delivery. But “I want some extra,” she said, for it had struck her during the croup: if Cody died, what would she have left? This little rented house, fixed up so carefully and pathetically; the nursery with its Mother Goose theme; and Beck, of course, but he was so busy with the Tanner Corporation, away from home more often than not, and even when home always fuming over business: who was on the rise and who was on the skids, who had spread damaging rumors behind his back, what chance he had of being let go now that times were so hard.

“I don’t know why I thought just one little boy would suffice,” said Pearl.

But it wasn’t as simple as she had supposed. The second child was Ezra, so sweet and clumsy it could break your heart. She was more endangered than ever. It would have been best to stop at Cody. She still hadn’t learned, though. After Ezra came Jenny, the girl—such fun to dress, to fix her hair in different styles. Girls were a kind of luxury, Pearl felt. But she couldn’t give Jenny up, either. What she had now was not one loss to fear but three. Still, she thought, it had seemed a good idea once upon a time: spare children, like spare tires, or those extra lisle stockings they used to package free with each pair.

“You should have arranged for a second-string mother, Ezra,” she said. Or she meant to say. “How shortsighted of you.” But evidently she failed to form the words, for she heard him sit back again without comment and turn a page of his magazine.

She had not seen Ezra clearly since the spring of ’75, four and a half years ago, when she first started losing her vision. She’d had a little trouble with blurring. She went to the doctor for glasses. It was arteries, he told her; something to do with her arteries. She was eighty-one years old, after all. But he was certain it could be treated. He sent her to a specialist, who sent her to someone else…well, to make a long story short, they found they couldn’t help her. Something had shriveled away behind her eyes. “I’m falling into disrepair,” she told the children. “I’ve outlived myself.” She gave a little laugh. To tell the truth, she hadn’t believed it. She had made the appropriate sounds of dismay, then acceptance, then plucky cheer; but inwardly, she’d determined not to allow it. She just wouldn’t hear of it, that was all. She had always been a strong-willed woman. Once, when Beck was away on business, she’d walked around with a broken arm for a day and a half till he could come stay with the babies. (It was just after one of his transfers. She was a stranger in town and had no one to turn to.) She didn’t even hold with aspirin; didn’t hold with depending, requesting. “The doctor says I’m going blind,” she told the children, but privately, she’d intended to do no such thing.

Yet every day, her sight had faded. The light, she felt, was somehow thinning and retreating. Her son Ezra, his calm face that she loved to linger on—he grew dim. Even in bright sunshine, now, she had difficulty making out his shape. She could barely discern his silhouette as he came near her—that large, sloping body settling into softness a bit in his middle age. She felt his flannel warmth when he sat next to her on the couch, describing what was on her TV or going through her drawer of snapshots the way she liked to have him do. “What’s that you’ve got, Ezra?” she would ask.

“It seems to be some people on a picnic,” he would say.

“Picnic? What kind of picnic?”

“White tablecloth in the grass. Wicker basket. Lady wearing a middy blouse.”

“Maybe that’s Aunt Bessie.”

“I’d recognize your Aunt Bessie, by now.”

“Or Cousin Elsa. She favored middy blouses, I recall.”

Ezra said, “I never knew you had a cousin.”

“Oh, I had cousins,” she said.

She tipped her head back and recollected cousins, aunts, uncles, a grandpa whose breath had smelled of mothballs. It was peculiar how her memory seemed to be going blind with the rest of her. She didn’t so much see their faces as hear their fluid voices, feel the crisp ruching of the ladies’ shirtwaists, smell their pomades and lavender water and the sharp-scented bottle of crystals that sickly Cousin Bertha had carried to ward off fainting spells.

“I had cousins aplenty,” she told Ezra.

They had thought she would be an old maid. They’d grown tactful—insultingly tactful. Talk of others’ weddings and confinements halted when Pearl stepped out on the porch. A college education was offered by Uncle Seward—at Meredith College, right there in Raleigh, so she wouldn’t have to leave home. No doubt he feared having to support her forever: a millstone, an orphaned spinster niece tying up his spare bedroom. But she told him she had no use for college. She felt that going to college would be an admission of defeat.

Oh, what was the trouble, exactly? She was not bad-looking. She was small and slender with fair skin and fair, piled hair, but the hair was growing dry as dust and the strain was beginning to show around the curled and mobile corners of her mouth. She’d had suitors in abundance, more than she could name; yet they never lasted, somehow. It seemed there was some magical word that everyone knew but Pearl—those streams of girls, years younger than she, effortlessly tumbling into marriage. Was she too serious? Should she unbend more? Lower herself to giggle like those mindless, silly Winston twins? Uncle Seward, you can tell me. But Uncle Seward just puffed on his pipe and suggested a secretarial course.

Then she met Beck Tull. She was thirty years old. He was twenty-four—a salesman with the Tanner Corporation, which sold its farm and garden equipment all over the eastern seaboard and where he would surely, surely rise, a smart young fellow like him. In those days, he was lean and rangy. His black hair waved extravagantly, and his eyes were a brilliant shade of blue that seemed not quite real. Some might say he was…well, a little extreme. Flamboyant. Not quite of Pearl’s class. And certainly too young for her. She knew there were some thoughts to that effect. But what did she care? She felt reckless and dashing, bursting with possibilities.

She met him at a church—at the Charity Baptist Church, which Pearl was only visiting because her girlfriend Emmaline was a member. Pearl was not a Baptist herself. She was Episcopalian, but truthfully not even that; she thought of herself as a nonbeliever. Still, when she went to the Baptist church and saw Beck Tull standing there, a stranger, glossily shaved and wearing a shiny blue suit, and he asked within two minutes if he might be allowed to call, she related it in some superstitious way to the church itself—as if Beck were her reward for attending with the Baptists. She did not dare stop attending. She became a member, to her family’s horror, and was married at Charity Baptist and went to one Baptist church or another, in one town or another, her entire married life, just so her reward would not be snatched away. (Didn’t that maybe, it occurred to her, imply some kind of faith after all?)

Courting her, he brought chocolates and flowers and then—more serious—pamphlets describing the products of the Tanner Corporation. He started telling her in detail about his work and his plans for advancement. He paid her compliments that made her uncomfortable till she could get off alone in her room and savor them. She was the most cultured and refined little lady that he had ever known, he said, and the best mannered, and the daintiest. He liked to place her hand to his, palm to palm, and marvel at its tiny size. Despite the reputation of salesmen, he was respectful to a fault and never grabbed at her the way some other men might.
Then he received his transfer, and after that things sped up so; for he wouldn’t hear of leaving her behind but must marry her immediately and take her with him. So they had their Baptist wedding—both of them out of breath, Pearl always pictured later—and spent their honeymoon moving to Newport News. She never even got to enjoy her new status among her girlfriends. She didn’t have time to show off a single one of her trousseau dresses, or to flash her two gold rings—the narrow wedding band and the engagement ring, set with a pearl, inscribed To a Pearl among Women. Everything seemed so unsatisfying.

They moved, and they moved again. For the first six years they had no children and the moves were fairly easy. She’d gaze at each new town with hopeful eyes and think: This may be where I’ll have my son. (For pregnancy, now, took on the luster that marriage had once had—it was the treasure that came so easily to everyone but her.) Then Cody was born, and moving seemed much harder. Children had a way of complicating things, she noticed. There were the doctors and the school transcripts and this, that, and the other. Meanwhile she looked around and saw that somehow, without her noticing, she’d been cut off from most of her relatives. Aunts and uncles had died while she’d been too far away to do more than send a sympathy note. The house where she was born was sold to a man from Michigan; cousins married strangers with last names she’d never heard of; even the street names were changed so she’d be lost if she ever went back. And it struck her once, in her forties, that she really had no notion what had become of that grandpa with the mothball breath. He couldn’t still be living, could he? Had he died and no one thought to inform her? Or maybe they’d sent the news to an out-of-date address, three or four years behind times. Or she might have heard but simply forgotten, in the rush of some transfer or other. Anything was possible.

Oh, those transfers. Always there was some incentive—a chance of promotion, or richer territory. But it seldom amounted to much. Was it Beck’s fault? He claimed it wasn’t, but she didn’t know; she really didn’t know. He claimed that he was haunted by ill-wishers. There were so many petty people in this world, he said. She pursed her lips and studied him. “Why do you look at me that way?” he asked. “What are you thinking? At least,” he said, “I provide for you. I’ve never let my family go hungry.” She admitted that, but still she felt a constant itch of anxiety. It seemed her forehead was always tight and puckered. This was not a person she could lean on, she felt—this slangy, loud-voiced salesman peering at his reflection with too much interest when he tied his tie in the mornings, combing his pompadour tall and damp and frilly and then replacing the comb in a shirt pocket full of pencils, pens, ruler, appointment book, and tire gauge, all bearing catchy printed slogans for various firms.

Over his beer in the evening (but he was not a drinking man; don’t get her wrong), Beck liked to sing and pull at his face. She didn’t know why beer made him tug his skin that way—work it around like a rubber mask, so by bedtime his cheeks had a stretched-out, slackened look. He sang “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”—his favorite song. Nobody knows but Jesus. She supposed it must be true. What were his private thoughts, inside his spreading face, under the crest of black hair? She didn’t have the faintest idea.

One Sunday night in 1944, he said he didn’t want to stay married. They were sending him to Norfolk, he said; but he thought it best if he went alone. Pearl felt she was sinking in at the center, like someone given a stomach punch. Yet part of her experienced an alert form of interest, as if this were happening in a story. “Why?” she asked him, calmly enough. He didn’t answer. “Beck? Why?” All he did was study his fists. He looked like a young and belligerent schoolboy waiting out a scolding. She made her voice even quieter. It was important to learn the reason. Wouldn’t he just tell her what it was? He’d told her, he said. She lowered herself, shaking, into the chair across from him. She looked at his left temple, in which a pulse ticked. He was just passing through some mood, was all. He would change his mind in the morning. “We’ll sleep on it,” she told him.

But he said, “It’s tonight I’m going.”

He went to the bedroom for his suitcase, and he took his other suit from the wardrobe. Meanwhile Pearl, desperate for time, asked couldn’t they talk this over? Think it through? No need to be hasty, was there? He crossed from bureau to bed, from wardrobe to bed, packing his belongings. There weren’t that many. He was done in twenty minutes. He drew in his breath and she thought, Now he’ll tell me. But all he said was, “I’m not an irresponsible person. I do plan to send you money.”

“And the children,” she said, clutching new hope. “You’ll want to visit the children.”

(He would come with presents for them and she’d be the one to open the door—perfumed, in her Sunday dress, maybe wearing a bit of rouge. She’d always thought false color looked cheap, but she could have been wrong.)

Beck said, “No.”

“What?”

“I won’t be visiting the children.”

She sat down on the bed.

“I don’t understand you,” she said.

There ought to be a whole separate language, she thought, for words that are truer than other words—for perfect, absolute truth. It was the purest fact of her life: she did not understand him, and she never would.

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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As soon as I started reading the book the character that stood out the most to me was Pearl, the mother of the three children. Throughout her life she went through many difficulties, including her husband leaving her, being short on money, and having to raise three kids by herself. Throughout these experiences she stays strong and is never afraid to speak her mind. Another thing that I enjoyed in this particular book was the way it was written. The way it was narrated along with how the chapters were set up was nice to hear about one characters view points to a situation, then the other characters express their own point of views on the same situation. By having the chapters set up this way I feel that it grasps the reader¿s attention by giving more descriptive details. Along with keeping those speculating on what the other characters view point will be. The experience I had with this book was it really grabbed my attention and I never had to force myself to read it, it was actually a book that I enjoyed reading.
RyCarMad More than 1 year ago
Good book but quite depressing. It is hard to imagine the life the kids must have had. It made me reevaluate my life and try and do better by my kids. All in all, a good read but be prepared to examine your life and hope to God you raise your kids with love no matter what crap life throws you.
jodiNC More than 1 year ago
I enjoy Anne Tyler's writings. This one shows a lot of insight (as do all her books) into the personalities of the characters and why they are the way they are. Some of it is sad, but its real life.
tchrreader More than 1 year ago
This is a book that is good to read and a quick, fun, fast read too. You will enjoy finding out what happens to the characters in this story! This is the story of Pearl as she looks back on her life. Her husband left her to raise their three children who are all very different. The children are Cody, Jenny and Ezra and is all about their grown lives. Cody is very mean. This book is a bit depressing. You will like the characters. This is an easy book to read, you won't want to put it down.
Linski More than 1 year ago
The feelings that exist between two brothers can be a lifetime bond of closeness and companionship. But the "heartsick" feeling of wishing for such a brotherly relationship become the earnest theme of this very engrossing book. My book club, the Gourmet Readers, chose it to read as we thought the title fit with our name. Sitting down to a cozy lunch to discuss this book, we all agreed that it was indigestable. The author has created a family that should have never been; and gave us the reasons why, when, and how miserably it did exist. The jealousy of the older brother never cools; but still the younger brother tries to fit all the odd family members together for a real family meal. Dispite the angst, all of the Gourmet Readers were compelled to read each word as Anne Tyler drew us compelety into their complex lives. Read it, you won't forget it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok. Times were tough - her husband left her with 3 kids. Sometimes the mom was joyful and tender, other times, she went into a fitful rage and was very mean. The kids, typical: sometimes good, sometimes not good, and they did the best they could do in the conditions in which they lived and were being raised. Then, they became adults, they made their own lives, and no matter what they did as adults, you somehow relate it to what happened to them as kids. If you want to read about depression, frustration, rigidness, and read it over and over again, then this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Insightful portrayal of complex family relationships
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anne Tyler¿s objective, when writing not only Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant but in all writing, is to make the reader feel ¿that they are living the lives [she¿s] describing¿. Tyler opens us with Pearl Tull, an 81-year-old woman as she lies on her deathbed recalling and questioning family¿s past. As we are pulled into the past we experience this dysfunctional family through the perspectives of different characters, Pearl¿s children and herself. Often the same stories are told however from altering view points this is an interesting, but effective, way of letting the reader come to understand the nature of each character. Tyler shows us both sides of 20the story, lets us experience the physical and verbal abuse through child¿s eyes, lets us feel what is being conveyed and from this writing method an insight into the nature of humans is uncovered. When reading the altering viewpoints we come to understand the characters better than they do themselves. This story has been receiving awards from it first day '1982' and is still being commended for its insight and making the reader feel the ¿lives [she¿s] describing¿. I plan on rereading and seeing others read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant for years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read "Dinner" eleven years ago. It was the first Anne Tyler book I'd read. Since then I have read, and re-read, all of her books. With only one exception ("A Slipping Down Life"), Tyler achieves the miraculous: Making us deeply care about people as mundane and messed up as everyone around us, including ourselves. I recently re-read "Dinner" and was powerfully moved by the complexity in the apparently simple story of family members who have decided to survive and love each other despite their failings. The first time I read the novel I was drawn to Ezra; I saw him as a sort of saint in the midst of the turbulence. This time, however, while still feeling an affection for Ezra, I saw his imperfections, something I chose not to see the first time through. This time I came away with an understanding of Cody, a character I had mislabeled in my mind as a "bad one." I always hesitate to call Tyler's families "dysfunctional," a word too often used to describe her families. Her families are not dysfunctional, they are real. While the characters may be quirky (another word used too often to describe Tyler's characters), the interactions are dead on-target. Reading her work the audience is exposed to truth about the human condition and human families. I often say that, aside from the scriptures, Tyler is the writer who has taught me the most meaningful lessons in life. I don't say that lightly or disrespectfully. And, of all her works, "Dinner" is arguably the most meaningful, the most insightful, and the most valuable of her profound body of work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anne Tyler brings her characters to life in this story. it's a blend of many emotions. She puts the "fun" in dysfunction. I highly recommend this book.
Nottingham More than 1 year ago
With its interesting structure, focusing on one member of a family in each chapter, this book uncovers motivation and responses below the surface of events. This way, Anne Tyler thoroughly involves the reader in each life as she creates its interaction with others. A sense of sad inevitability along with compassion occurs in the reader as her lucid language moves easily in this family saga.
jonesli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great story of a far from perfect family. When the book begins, Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life and reflecting on her life after raising her three children as a single parent when her husband left her in 1944. He decided that due to Pearl's constant nagging and emotional outbursts that he didn't want to be a husband and father any more. Awful, yes, but Pearl is a piece of work prone to outbursts and constant criticism of her children: the too slick for his own good Cody, the high spirited and nervous Jenny, and the sweet loveable Ezra, were all subject to Pearl's harsh criticism and lack of encouragement. You know a book is good when you can feel sympathy for characters who probably don't deserve it: I felt sorry for Pearl, who wasn't sure how to mother her children, I felt sorry for Cody who always tortured and mistreated his brother Ezra because he felt as though his mother favored him. This book really drives the point home that no marriage or parent child relationship is perfect. and that sibling rivalry and remarks made in the heat of a moment can profoundly damage a relationship forever. I found it very thought provoking.
bardin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not alot happens in this book, but some sections of the book does feature some of the best writing I've ever read. It's just the other parts don't quite make it a classic, but this is still a very worthy book.
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the bittersweet retelling of the history of a family, a family with its own peculiar insecurities and rivalries, which is nonetheless bound together by love, even if the family members realize that too late. A quiet, slow-moving book, it is also an engrossing read with real, engaging, multi-faceted characters.
kingsportlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a woman whose husband leaves her with three children to raise. Pearl Tull was difficult and wore her family out with her demands and her big personality. She had no friends of her own, living life through her children and doing repairs on her Baltimore rowhouse. When Pearl went out to her job as a cashier at a grocery store, she wore her hat with the netting. She kept herself apart from "outsiders." Her son Ezra ran a small restaurant called "The Homesick Restaurant." When he had family dinners, they always broke up early in arguments and unpleasantness. Finally after Pearl died, it looked like they would get to finish a dinner.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There is no doubt Tyler wanted Dinner to be a character novel. The plot moves slow enough so that more emphasis is placed on the people within the constraints of the narrow storyline. The characters swell and grow beyond the plot, making them the focal point. For example, Cody does enough rotten things that it should be impossible for the reader to like him and maybe even go so far as to hate him and yet, one finds ways to feel sorry for him because he is not his mother's favorite child. He's not even her second favorite. I find it interesting that no matter how rotten Tyler made Cody out to be I couldn't help but pity him. His "lashing out" made me want to protect him and love him. He even had his quiet moments of kindness, "Cody took a pinch of Jenny's coat sleeve so as not to lose her" (p 61). In fact, all of the characters are this way. Pearl Tull is an abusive, angry mother but you have to pity her because her husband walked out on her for apparently no reason. She is left to raise three small children completely on her own. Cody, the oldest, is only eight when his father leaves. Jenny is the middle child and Ezra is the youngest. All three children grow to be self-absorbed adults with difficult-to-love personalities. And yet, yet you want them to be okay.
_________jt_________ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Almost ruined by the author's admitted love for one character.
curlycurrie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this a bit slow to start with but persevered beause I had read so many good reviews about it. I'm glad I did because as I got further into the book things started to come together and the jigsaw fell into place. Very thought provoking and although nothing in particular happens Anne Tyker domonstrates how the events and actions of parents have an effect on their children and subsequently their grandchildren.This was the first Anne Tyler book I've read and now I'm looking out for more.
whirled on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant is a funny, sad and entertaining reflection on the conflicting emotions at the heart of family life. As reluctant single mother Pearl Tull lies on her deathbed, she and her three children ruminate on their shared past, imparting wildly different versions of events. Tyler lends a depth to her characters and their thinking that makes them solid and authentic, despite their various flaws. In Tyler's fictional world, characters don't have to be lovable to be interesting. The book is a timeless study of the nature of family, love and regret.
heathernkemp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: A+If you have not ever read this book, stop reading this review right now, go pick it up, and don't do anything else until you're done. If you're still reading this then you're either disobedient or you know how truly fabulous this novel is. Anne Tyler is an absolutely genius writer. She takes a series of events that are seemingly nothing--seriously, nothing of "consequence" really happens in this book--but you're captivated from the first chapter.As I was reading I found myself feeling sympathy for which ever perspective was being used--she writes from Pearl, Cody, Ezra, and Jenny at different points throughout the book. When you're reading Cody you feel so badly for Cody, and (paradoxically) when you read Ezra your heart breaks for him. And it seems hard to imagine, having read any of the children's chapters, but you actually feel that Pearl (and her husband) as well are characters were rich and deep back-stories that are so complex.At the end of the book I found myself deeply saddened, to the point of near tears (if I hadn't been at dinner with my family in Fazoli's I'd probably have let the tears spill). I just felt that these characters were all so tragic, their lives so sad, and then I realized what Tyler's teaching--everyone is tragic. No one has the perfect life. Family is very nearly all anybody has, and it makes you re-think what you think of your family and closest friends.This book was easily, so easily, an A+ in my book. If I weren't a stickler for the grading system, I'd have given it an A++. It's really that good.
jeffome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book....a little slow in the beginning, but it rallied....Tyler certainly has a knack for creating very odd, but for some reason, somewhat believable characters that suck you in....the characters are somewhat tragic, but that old 'humanity thing' kicks in and it is totally appropriate to relate, no matter how removed we may be in our lives.....although, we're probably not as removed as we may think!!!! My 4th Tyler, and i have more on the shelf.....but i likely will not read them back to back....there is a basic pattern of sorts that i can now see, and some space between will make them more enjoyable, i hope.
caitlinef on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is a story of family and its imperfections. Throughout their lives, the Tulls have struggled and fought with one another, as each family member has a dynamic personality that conflicts with another. It seems that everytime one person tries to get along, another is offended. Ezra centers his life around getting his family to sit through an entire meal together, however, as simple as this may seem, it is almost impossible for the Tulls. This book is very sad, and will make you glad for the family you have, or else will make you remember all of the faults in your own family.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anne Tyler weaves together a cast of characters which capture the reader in her wonderful novel: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Pearl Tull, a domineering and stubborn woman who is adept at denial (especially when her husband abandons the family) heads up the Tull family. Tyler begins at Pearl's deathbed, then rewinds to reveal the intricate relationships and events that span her life.Cody Tull is the eldest of Pearl's children - the son who remembers his father the most vividly and is perhaps the most damaged by Beck Tull's desertion. Jenny, the only daughter, worries about her weight and can't sustain a relationship with men. And then there is Ezra - the favorite son - gentle, lumbering and looking for family unity - the type of man who cares for others and can't quite give up on his mother. Even Tyler's minor characters will touch the reader's heart - especially Ezra's friend Josiah Payton:'Mrs. Payton kept refilling his plate. "To look at him," she said, "you'd never know he eats so much, would you? Skinny as a fence post. I reckon he's still a growing boy." She laughed, and Josiah grinned bashfully with his eyes cast down - a skeletal, stooped , hunkering man. Jenny had never thought about the fact that Josiah was somebody's son, some woman's greatest treasure. His stubby black lashes were lowered; his prickly head was bent over his plate. He was so certain of being loved, her if no place else.' -From Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, page 108-Tyler's novel is a character study - and there is no author out there who does character driven novels as well as Tyler. Beautiful, harsh, endearing, absorbing - all describe this wonderful story of the Tull family. As Pearl Tull's life spirals down, Tyler infuses the characters with hope and gives the reader a deeply satisfying story to remember long after the last page is turned.Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well developed characters! Rich details, very relatable. Each character had strengths and flaws that made you connect with their story. Will read others by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible character development, boring storylines, no empathy for characters, mundane language. Honestly cant figure out how this book generated so much praise and received great reviews, so disappointed! I read a lot of good books and this was definitely NOT one of them. Also now really turned off by the author and wont try anything else by her.