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Breathing Lessons Paperback – 17 Sep 1992

3.9 out of 5 stars 61 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: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,098 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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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: 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
Let me tell you why I liked this book. It gave me a different perspective. Although many people (both readers and characters in the book) have criticised her for being one-dimensional I found her to be quite extraordinary. Her sensitivity and sense of place within her family is touching. The reason why her image radiates ordinariness is because everyone has labelled her that way. I found this to be true in the way that people often create labels for others and then the label is accepted as some kind of truth. Maggie may not be a likeable person or even a realistic person you can picture in your life, but certainly everyone can empathise with the tendency people have to suffocate other people with images they have created for them. I don't think Maggie is that simple. If she were than she could never imagine a life outside of her own. But, when she and Ira get in a fight in the car and she demands to be let out she imagines a completely different life for herself. This is the imaginary flight that is carried out in actuality in Ladder of Years. You could say that this is the off-handed daydream of a flat character because it is just as immediately forgotten as it is conjured. However, I think this suggests a more complex state of mind. One which can envision other states of being but consciously rejects them. Incidentally this is a very ordinary trait, one that I imagine many people can sympathise with. In some ways she is more ordinary than most people because she is always actively trying to normalise other people. She is not only suppressed by other people's images of her, but she is trying to mould everyone into the image she wants them to be. Her intentions are always positive.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This is a book which you finish and feel that whilst you couldnt retell the tale, you know that you have enjoyed it and it takes some thought to pinpoint what kept you involved. The opening pages allow the reader direct access into Maggies mind, and its airy fairy female workings. Whilst denting the newly fixed car is unimportant, obsessing over the long since failed relationship of her son and his wife, or the anguish she may have unthinkingly caused a fellow motorist are paramount in Maggies mind. The abyss of misunderstanding that lies between herself and her husband Ira stems blatantly from the different machinations of their minds, although both have the capacity to feel passionately, over their given preoccupation. As a female reader you feel that Anne Tyler has in some way exposed what lies within a womans head, and further illustrated the tolerances that exist within a successful relationship that allow for these contrasting modes of thought to exist. Read this because it is well written and adds to our understanding of human nature.
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