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Breathing Lessons Paperback – 17 Sep 1992

4 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (17 Sept. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099201410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099201410
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A work of art" (Guardian)

"Her finest novel" (Irish Times)

"A novel by Anne Tyler is a subject for rejoicing...Breathing Lessons is a pleasure" (The Times)

"Anne Tyler has a real gift for generating tender and amazing moments" (Independent)

"Displays her extraordinary gifts in supreme harmony: exquisite narrative clarity, faultless comic timing, and the Tyler trademark of happy-sad characters inspiring a mid-American domestic drama that somehow slips the surly bonds of the quotidian to become timeless and universal" (Guardian, Best 100 Novels of all time)

Book Description

From the Pulitzer prize-winning Sunday Times bestseller Anne Tyler. Breathing Lessons is now re-jacketed along with the rest of Tyler’s books in striking new backlist style

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Anne Tyler won The Pulitzer Prize in 1989 and twenty years on you can still see why, her writing style is superb. She writes the whole novel in third person and yet through the characters thoughts you can hear their voices in first person and it's incredibly effective. Breathing Lessons tells a day in the life of Maggie Moran. A woman nearing fifty whose own daughter asks her `when did you become so ordinary?' As fifty nears she is looking at the lives of her children, husband and herself as she heads for the funeral of her best friends wedding.

Not the storyline for many laughs, though there is humour because it's Anne Tyler, but it isn't meant to be a happy book. It looks at how satisfied people are with their own lives and the lives of their family. Maggie feels her husband Ira thinks she is fat and worthless, clearly how she perceives herself, that her daughter Daisy can't wait to leave her `ordinary' mother and her son whose wife walked out on him with their daughter feels much the same. On the journey and on the way back Maggie's journey takes several surprising detours, mainly through Maggie's interfering. Through these detours Anne shows us Maggie's family past and why she is in the state she is in, you never hear about her childhood much, a mystery I thought might have solved many questions to her deeper personality.

With Maggie's endless interfering and severe swaying of the truth it did leave you feeling you were seeing life through slightly unreliable eyes. The dialogue both external and internal is fantastic. I found the writing sparse, I have to admit I was shocked Ira and Maggie were still married and the rare signs of closeness and emotional contact between the two of them somehow felt false.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The Pulitzer prize is awarded for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. This novel won the prize in 1989. It may seem a surprise, since the plot is so slight, scarcely a panoramic view of modern culture - set alongside the definitive statements of other Pulitzer prize-winning novels such as The Colour Purple, or Toni Morrison's Beloved. But it encapsulates within a day the struggles of a family's whole life and of a long marriage.

Tyler begins by setting up a scenario - one that is bound to cause acute stress - and then piling on extra to take it to an extreme pitch. In doing so, it teeters between tragedy, futility and comedy.

It begins with collecting the car from the garage the day of a long drive to the funeral of her oldest friend's husband. It immediately adds an overheard radio talk in that `tells' Maggie that her estranged daughter in law is about to marry another man; followed in a few seconds by a prang with the car; followed by a stressful drive in which you wonder how her husband Ira copes with her; a row that almost busts a decades-long marriage (but they are always doing that); and a funeral as bad amateur dramatics and sing-along. The black observation is piled on - why stop? But perhaps the point is that Ira and Maggie are always living at this extreme of bickering followed by closeness, and maybe Maggie does shift from crisis to crisis as she tries to put the world right, and Ira bickers back and tries to be the sensible grounded one.

This is a turning point in their lives. It is not simply that the funeral at too young an age is a reminder of everyone's mortality and of the passing of youthful aspirations.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No real story, no likeable characters, lots of annoying misunderstandings, although I will concede how these came about were sort of clever and obviously took some thought. Just felt sorry for the little girl in it really. The observations on life were true and I could relate to some of them but most of it was boring and negative or sad (making me feel a bit sorry for myself when I recognized some of them were relevant to me!). Found it a bit depressing. 3/10.
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Format: Paperback
This was the first Anne Tyler book I've read and I was exhilarated by it. It is a beautifully written book, full of insights into human relationships. Her witty writing and sharp observations make Tyler a dream to read. Top of my list of 'discovered authors' for '98. After you've read it, your only problem will be deciding which of your friends to pass it on to first!
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Format: Paperback
This was actually the first of many Anne Tyler books I read, and oddly did not live up to my mild expectations. Despite the acute realism and sense of sentimental familiarity that comes with all her books, I just didn't enjoy the storyline and didn't especially warm to the central characters as I do with characters in her other books. Perhaps three stars is rather harsh since it is beautifully written with excellent style, and very readable, nevertheless relative to her other works I have to rate this as average.
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Format: Paperback
This novel is an absolute joy - and I can see why it won a purlitzer prize. Beautifully crafted it brilliantly illustrates the way people are with each other - the way in which people who know each other so well act toward each other, how the old arguments and resentments resurface quickly and with out warning. Maggie and Ira's conversations while driving to Deer Lick are wonderfully real - you can just hear them, a middle aged couple having the same arguments they have had before, going over the same old ground. Anne Tyler's characters are real people - you believe them absolutely - and thats what made this novel so enjoyable. I think however that it is Maggie's unfailing optimism and heartbreaking refusual to accept the inevitable that I will remember most.
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