I first came to know about Anne Tyler when a fellow book lover posted on a thread that this author is one of his favorites. This friend of mine recommended three of Anne Tyler’s books – Breathing Lessons, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, and Accidental Tourist. I already have copies of the first two and on the hunt for the last one. I decided to read Breathing Lessons first (although my friend said he liked Dinner more) because it’s a Pulitzer winner and it would be something worthwhile to read a Pulitzer, right?
Breathing Lessons is a story of a couple, Ira and Maggie Moran, who have been married for twenty-eight years. Ira is a silent man fond of whistling popular tunes and playing solitaire while Maggie is a little bit on the eccentric, getting involved into all kinds of debates (especially with Ira) and trying stick her nose into everybody’s business but always with good intentions. They are going to attend the funeral of a friend and along the way (and back) they discover that their seemingly ordinary lives are actually extraordinary.
I am married for only two months and twenty-one days. Before I finally decided to marry my first and only boyfriend, I asked myself whether I can live with this person for the rest of my life. I figured I could, considering that he knows how to cook (and I don’t), at least I won’t go hungry at all. What I love about this book is how it gives me a glimpse of what our married life will be after several years, after all our children have grown up, and we are left all alone again by ourselves. We are still on that giddy, on-a-high, exciting honeymoon stage, but I believe that ultimately our lives will fall into a pattern, a comfortable routine. And when that day comes, I will look back and think whether marrying Gian was really worth it. I believe it will be worth it.
Ira is a sweet character. I can say that I have a crush with his character. Why? My husband and Ira are so the same in most ways. Their quiet, unassuming nature. The way Ira is so patient with Maggie’s quirky ways. I am not quirky but I have a nasty temper and Gian’s patience is a balancing factor in our relationship.
Maggie, on the other hand, is a handful. Most of the parts in the book are actually told through Maggie’s viewpoint and her eccentricities are just so comically real. She is a typical mother who cannot find any fault with her children, especially her beloved Jessie. How she believes that Jessie and his ex-wife, Fiona, are still in love with each other and so made efforts into getting them back together. The outcome of her efforts are all so painfully hilarious you just have to feel sorry for her.
The book is divided into three parts, but what is totally unique with it is that all the events transpired only for one day. There are lots of recollections and flashbacks, but you wouldn’t be bored because the narrative is very delightful and witty and the dialogues are engaging, most especially because the scenes are just so funny.
Why Breathing Lessons? I actually do not know, I was busy laughing while reading, but the phrase was mentioned to refer to the breathing practices a pregnant woman must learn in order to prepare for childbirth. Until now, I still do not honestly know the significance of the title to the story (I am such a loser) but I really thoroughly enjoyed my first Anne Tyler book. It is the kind of book every adult will truly love.
1/3 Required Reading Challenge: July
25/50 2012 Goodreads Reading Goal.