Anne Tyler has mostly created the “family novel” genre, but has recently “lost into more diverse territory,” Melissa Katsoulis said in Time. Fans will be delighted at the 80-year-old’s 24th novel, which marks the return of the genre. Almost inevitably, in Baltimore, it’s a six-decade-long, multi-generational tale of a “comfortably average” family. Mercy and Robin Garrett “enjoy a peaceful normal life” running a hardware store and raising their three children. But theirs is a family where “certain things are never said,” and as the decades go by, this creates divisions. French braids is “Tyler at her most Tyler-ish: pleasant and unobtrusive, yet surprisingly poignant and moving”.
Near the end, the novel takes an unexpected turn, says Anthony Cummins in The Observer. Its final chapters are set under Covid – a topic Tyler suggests she would never write about. Often, however, she emphasizes not the difficult side of the pandemic, but its “possibility of reunion and reconnection”. This book may not be her best work – but “at this point, any book by Tyler is a gift.”
Chatto & Windus 256pp £16.99; The Week Bookshop £13.99
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https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/culture/books/956139/book-review-french-braid-by-anne-tyler Book Review: French Braid by Anne Tyler