Some Anne Tyler novels are hyper focused, with one character in the spotlight or a very compact time frame. Others have the scale of epics, following multiple characters over generations. French Braid is one of the latter, following the Garrett family over the course of 60-odd years. The way Tyler sees it, sometimes you don’t get the kid you would expect, but maybe your sibling will. Together, you’ll still look like a family tree - or should I say rug? Tyler’s canvass broadens a bit here. One character actually shops at Giant instead of Eddie’s, and by the end of the story, hardly anyone lives in Baltimore! This may be Tyler’s 24th novel, but nobody can say she’s coasting. Did I mention I’ve read all 24? Is this brag-reviewing? It’s not necessarily the quirkiest of her novels (we’re talking about a plumbing supply business here), but it’s as eloquent, heartfelt, and quietly humorous as she gets, with several scenes that stopped me in my tracks. Happy reading!— Daniel Goldin
From the beloved best-selling, Pulitzer Prize–winning author—a funny, joyful, brilliantly perceptive journey deep into one Baltimore family’s foibles, from a boyfriend with a red Chevy in the 1950s up to a longed-for reunion with a grandchild in our pandemic present.
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.
About the Author
ANNE TYLER was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the author of more than twenty novels. Her twentieth novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2015. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1989. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
“More lovely work from Tyler, still vital and creative . . . In her 24th novel, Tyler once again unravels the tangled threads of family life. This familiar subject always seems fresh in her hands because Tyler draws her characters and their interactions in such specific and revealing detail . . . [She] understands that the domestic world can contain the universe.”