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Customer Review

on 12 June 2010
This is my first Anne Tyler book, it was recommended by a friend but I was disappointed overall.

I thought it was beautifully written, and for the most part an acute observation of real life relationships. Tyler seems to have a knack for simple details that help define a character, like Maggie looking for soap and a used towel so not to disturb the new soaps and clean guest towels in Serena's bathroom (I can see my mother doing that!). I agree with other reviewers who have noted that it was hard to warm to the main characters, but while they have unlikeable traits, they were still very real and you could understand where they were coming from. Other reviewers didn't like Ira - I personally thought he must have had the patience of a saint to put up with Maggie, in particular her habit of discussing intimate family matters with total strangers while using the opportunity to get a dig at him. In fact, I found their relationship a little unrealistic, I was surprised at how easily Ira overcame his frustrations with Maggie, given his apparent resentment of his father & sisters dependence.

However it was Maggie that spoiled the book for me. I found her incredibly annoying, so much so that had I almost gave up after 30 or 40 pages. I could identify with elements of her character and understood why she did many of the silly things she did, but overall I found her too over-the-top. Maybe Maggie was an attempt to inject humour, but if so it was lost on me as the rest of the book was so realistic and any other humour came from the acutely observed little things that you could identify with.

This has not put me off trying Anne Tyler again, as I enjoyed her writing style and her eye for realistic details. I will just have to choose the next book myself!
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