Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
I must admit I had not heard about Anne Tyler much less read her novels until our book club chose this book (and her other works) for this month. It was hard-going initially. A hundred pages into the book, and still there was no hint of a plot. But the excellently well-observed moments which peppered the anecdotes kept me going. Halfway through the book, I realised that there was never going to be a plot. - the kind that had drama, a crisis and a resolution. The book is simply a story of the Tull family - of three siblings loosely held together by their eccentric mother. A family that does not function well together. About siblings who barely tolerate each other and their mother who was somewhat abusive to them in the past and one who has grown increasingly secluded in her old age. The book starts as Pearl, the mother, lies in her death bed. In the following pages we learn about how Pearl, the 'old maid' got married to Beck Tull in her early thirties, had her three children - head strong Cody, whimsical Ezra and flighty Jenny, was abandoned by her husband a decade into the marriage and how the children grow up to become very different individuals. The story is told through varying voices and it all blends in seemlessly.
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant runs much like life itself. Complete with its banality and its grinding everydayness. So in that sense, you may be disappointed if you picked it up looking for a strong storyline. But the style and the insights into complex family relations it offers make it a wonderful read.
p.s. Forgot to mention the relevance of the title. It refers to the Tull family meals left uncompleted at Ezra's Homesick restaurant