To follow the rug metaphor on the lovely cover of this book, Anne Tyler excels at quietly unraveling the threads that bind families together--and finding the small tears that leave rips in the binding for decades. The Garrett family is somewhat unremarkable; Alice, Lily, and David are the children with little in common. Mercy is their distracted, artistic mother, and her husband, Robin, is blissfully unaware of most of the family's deeply held desires.
From an early family vacation in the 1950s through the start of COVID, French Braid examines how families know--and don't know--one another, and how they manage to create lives together and separately. There's little action here, but it's a good choice for a character-driven novel that's a fast and easy read.
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The Garretts take their first and last family vacation in the summer of 1959. They hardly ever leave home, 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 understand. 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.