French Braid by Anne Tyler

French Braid by Anne Tyler

French Braid by Anne Tyler is a historical novel that digs deep into what makes families tick. This book has lots of drama and some interesting moments that are relatable and beautifully written, and as it spans 60 years, the story of the Garrett family is told from many different perspectives. While I enjoyed the family focus, the story’s slow pacing didn’t capture my attention as much as I had hoped, and I was left feeling disappointed.

French Braid by Anne TylerTitle: French Braid
Author: Anne Tyler
Also by this author: Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Shakespeare)
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publication Date: March 22, 2022
Rating: three-half-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

A major new novel from the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning author—a freshly observed, funny, joyful, brilliantly perceptive journey deep into one family’s foibles, from the 1950s up to our pandemic present.

The Garretts take their first and last family vacation in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever venture beyond Baltimore, but in some ways they have never been farther apart. Mercy has trouble resisting the siren call of her aspirations to be a painter, which means less time keeping house for her husband, Robin. Their teenage daughters, steady Alice and boy-crazy Lily, could not have less in common. Their youngest, David, is already intent on escaping his family's orbit, for reasons none of them understands. Yet, as these lives advance across decades, the Garretts' influences on one another ripple ineffably but unmistakably through each generation.

Full of heartbreak and hilarity, French Braid is classic Anne Tyler: a stirring, uncannily insightful novel of tremendous warmth and humor that illuminates the kindnesses and cruelties of our daily lives, the impossibility of breaking free from those who love us, and how close—yet how unknowable—every family is to itself.

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: French Braid by Anne Tyler

When the story begins, the Garrett family is on a rare holiday–an event that seems to hint at some exciting moments in the plot. Rather than excitement, however, I found that the narrative becomes a bit tedious. Each chapter is written in the same way, and as I was reading, I was hoping that there would be a pay-off at some point. When this never came and the story never really went anywhere, it felt very mundane. If it weren’t for Tyler’s eloquent writing, I don’t think this would have been a book I would have finished.

❀ Multiple Narrators

With so many different narrators, one would think that there would be a character within the pages that resonates with the reader. While this is normally true for me, I found it difficult to really root for any of these characters, and at times some of them are quite frustrating. Mercy in particular is a matriarch who is just plain awful. Her selfishness and disinterest in both her children and husband is very off-putting, and as I struggled to connect with her character, I further lost interest in the plot.

❀ Disappointing

French Braid by Anne Tyler is a book that I had high hopes for, but I was left wanting more. As a fan of the author’s other works, I am left disappointed as this latest work doesn’t quite measure up. However, while this one wasn’t for me, I am still interested in finding out what Anne Tyler has in store for us next.

About Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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