I can see why people aren’t universally in love with this one. It seems a bit like a patchwork quilt, part of it stitched together, but lots of bits adrift, not sewn in, not altogether abandoned either.
But I think that this is exactly as Tyler wanted it to be. Life. The story is clear, the story isn’t. It starts, stops, might do this, might do that. Random chance determines what happens – the author might have been playing I Ching. I wonder if she has ever done that. Well, it isn’t the way I want the story to go, she thinks to herself, but okay. Life says come this way. Doesn’t always explain itself. Shows the ways people deal with their own deficiencies. The relationship between Junior and hyphenated-wife is splendid. She does old people fabulously, but then, why wouldn’t she? I remain unconvinced by any of the younger ones, that is to say younger ones that we don’t see get old. Denny, Stem, Nora etc.
If I were forced to rank every Anne Tyler book I’d read, this would be down the bottom somewhere, but this doesn’t make it a bad book. Just not a great one.
For an indepth review, I liked The Guardian‘s which you can find here.