61. ‘Breathing Lessons’ by Anne Tyler.

I read this quite fast, even for me…and before I launch into what I really thought about it, I will add a disclaimer…I found myself so irritated by the central character, Maggie Moran, that I almost hoped something terrible was going to happen to her! And that makes me feel bad even though she is a fictional character…  but perhaps that is the spark of genius in this book, I don’t know. If one of the signs of a good book is that it sparks an emotional response in the reader, then this one did so for me. It did win a Pulitzer, after all.

It is the story of, ‘one day in the life of…’, something that I have always found a clever, and requiring great skill, basis for a story. Of course, we discover elements of background on the way through, but these are almost incidental to the events of this particular hot summer day as Maggie and her long suffering husband Ira travel to, first, a funeral, and then, because she just cannot help herself, her ex-daughter in law’s house.

Maggie is an interfering, self opinionated busybody, no two ways about it. She appears to spend her life sorting out everybody else’s life, even when this involves bending the truth, and it does backfire on her a little, in a tragic-comedic way – but, she has the ability to justify everything she has said and done, possibly why I disliked her so much! I cannot do that – if I have done wrong, I will suffer endlessly for it.

I didn’t really enjoy it much, to be honest. Anne Tyler specialises in families and relationships, and in this book, I could only feel so sorry for those who had to live with Maggie. Especially her son and ex daughter in law. Having said that, and relating back to what I said earlier – for it to provoke such a response…great writing!

All the Anne Tyler’s in Mum’s collection are promised to my sister, indeed,this one is en route to her as I write – so I can’t gift this one, but hey, I spent an afternoon in the sunshine reading it, it annoyed me, a lot,  but we all know someone like Maggie, and I have wasted time reading worse books! I leave it with you…