I seem to have falling into a series of novels about dysfunctional families. This book is totally in that category. I’m still processing this weird family as I write this book review French Braid by Anne Tyler.
- not operating normally or properly.”the telephones are dysfunctional”
- deviating from the norms of social behavior in a way regarded as bad.”an emotionally dysfunctional businessman”
I tried to like this book but I struggled through it. I’ve read a lot of books about families with issues, but this one was just plain weird. We are introduced to the Garrett family in the 1950’s. Mother Mercy and Father Robin seem initially to be happily married but there is an underlying current in Mercy that is driving her to be an artist.
Teenage daughters Alice (sensible) and Lily (boy crazy) are polar opposites and clearly don’t like each other. Alice watches out for little brother David, who seems to have some mental issues of his own. Early on in the book I liked Alice for stepping in as a mother figure for the young boy. But as Alice matures and starts her own family she is controlling and demanding and I don’t like her anymore.
As David becomes a man he extricates himself almost entirely from his family. At the same time Mercy decides to get an apartment to use as a “studio” but slowly extricates herself from the family home and her husband Robin. Robin, sad and lonely refuses to acknowledge Mercy has left him and goes on living as if nothing has changed.
It’s a sad and cruel and heartbreaking tale of a family, like many families, who hide their real truths, find fault in each other and grow apart, often with regret.
Tyler, who won a Pultizer for her novel A Spool of Blue Thread did not hit it for me in French Braid. I tried but didn’t love it. I hope you enjoyed my Book Review French Braid by Anne Tyler.
**Two Stars for French Braid by Anne Tyler.
See last week’s book review The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky
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