Author: Anne Tyler, 2015.
Genre: Contemporary. Family Drama.
Other Details: Hardback. 368 pages.
'It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon’ This is the way Tabby Whit shank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Tabby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They’ve all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself.
From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whit shanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we also see played out our own hopes and fears, rivalries and tensions – the essential nature of family life. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
Prior to taking part in this year's reading group to shadow the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction I had not been aware of Anne Tyler though quite a few members of the group were familiar with her work and praised her highly. Still I admit up front that this kind of drama focused on family is not really a genre that I read seek out.
Still, I found the novel well written and a number of the anecdotal tales about members of the family and the house itself were quite engaging though others left me rather unmoved. My overall impression was that the novel was quite uneven and just ended as if she did not know where else to go at that point.
I did not really feel this was a real contender for the Prize and those in the group familiar with Tyler's writing said it was not one of her best. I know there is a wide readership for this kind of novel but really was not my cup of tea.