Maria's Pick: "French Braid" by Anne Tyler
This is Anne Tyler’s 24th novel and once again, she is able to capture the quirks and complexities of family life in a way that feels somehow both familiar and unique.
The story begins in the present day with the granddaughter of Robin and Mercy Garret. She runs into her first cousin at a train station and almost doesn’t recognize him. She understands that her family feels disconnected, but doesn’t understand exactly why.
Then the story goes back to its beginning in1959, to a family on vacation at the beach. The events and personalities described set the stage for the years ahead, for the roles that each of the family members play, even into adulthood.
The novel unfolds over three generations and 50 years. What Tyler does so expertly is to focus not so much on climatic scenes but on the subtleties of everyday life. The story doesn’t follow a typical plot line, but instead feels like a meandering unfolding that is more typical of real life through the decades.