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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Anne Tyler
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1983
"A book that should join those few that every literate person will have to read."
Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not her memory. Ever since 1944 when her husband left her, she has raised her three very different children on her own. Now grown, they have gathered together--with anger, with hope, and with a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell....
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

Product Description


“Beautiful . . . funny, heart-hammering, wise . . . Superb entertainment.”
–The New York Times

“A book that should join those few that every literate person will have to read.”
–The Boston Globe

“A novelist who knows what a proper story is . . . [Tyler is] not only a good and artful writer, but a wise one as well.”

“Anne Tyler is surely one of the most satisfying novelists working in America today.”
–Chicago Tribune

“In her ninth novel she has arrived at a new level of power.”
–JOHN UPDIKE, The New Yorker

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

I first read this book back in 1984, long before I was in the publishing business. I was traveling through Greece with a friend and our hotel had shelves of books that other guests had left behind and were free for the taking.. I picked up Dinner.... knowing absolutely nothing about it. What a wonderful surprise and discovery!. I felt I had never read anything quite like it.The characters were so real, so familiar that I felt I did actually know them. In fact, for weeks after I finished the book, I had dreams about Ezra, one of the characters in the book and the owner of the Homesick Restaurant. In the dreams, he was my brother and he was just as sweet and vulnerable as he was in the book. I never re-read books because I'm usually disappointed the second time around because the sense of newness and discovery is gone. But I did read Dinner.... again and loved it as much, and even found new things I hadn't noticed before. This novel is truly a classic.
--Maureen O'Neal --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Family Life Can Turn into a Train Wreck May 29 2004
For those readers familiar with Tyler's more recent works, such as _Amateur Marriage_, _Ladder of Years_, or _Back When We Were Grownups_, _Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant_ will undoubtedly be found jolting in its portrayal of some rather disturbing characters, even malevolent, in the context of family.
As Pearl Tull lies on her death bed, _Dinner_ recapitulates the lives of the Tull family over nearly fifty years. Pearl, the mother of Cody, Ezra, and Jenny, never recovered from the abrupt abandonment by her husband Beck after fourteen years of marriage, some thirty-five years prior. But Pearl has problems beyond a marriage gone awry. She is unusually harsh and critical, and even abusive, with her children, exhibits almost no understanding of them, is quick to take offense or misconstrue situations, and is obsessed with appearances, hers and theirs, even pretending for years that her husband had not left. Cody is absolutely malicious in his dealings with his younger brother Ezra dating from his teenage years into middle-age. Jenny, after two failed marriages, manages to get through medical school but not without first being physically abusive towards her own daughter and then becoming strangely oblivious to the needs of her family in a third marriage.
Ezra, the balancing humane element of the book, becomes a partner, with a worldly, elderly lady, in a restaurant near his childhood Baltimore row home, where he still lives with Pearl, despite his mother's abhorrence at the idea. After becoming the sole owner, Ezra remakes the restaurant in his own image, making it unpretentious and home-like, hence the Homesick Restaurant. Ezra makes several attempts to gather the family for dinners at his restaurant through the years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Typical Dysfunctional Family Feb. 21 2004
Dinner at the Homesick Resaurant engages the reader by sharing a slightly altering story as it is told by each member of the family. Pearly Tull is the initial character of the novel and begins by describing the chain of events, such as her husband leaving, which lead her into single-handedly raising her children. Like a typical family of the 1930's, the Tulls are struggling to financially and emotionally make it. One by one, the children eventually grow up and begin lives of their own: Cody becomes a businessman like his father, Jenny goes to college and marries Harley Baines, and Ezra stays in town to run Mrs. Scarlatti's restaurant. Ezra's dream is to, just once, have his entirely family seated at the restaurant for a content family dinner. However, his mother, Pearl, seems to enjoy a little conflict and constantly instigates one. Once Ezra inherits the restaurant, he decides to slightly alter the menu, by switching to a homestyle variety of foods. He figures that this "home-cooked" meal can ease his homesick customers, but honestly, what does he know about home?
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of Her Best Jan. 7 2003
I have read a lot of Anne Tyler, but for some reason, this one slipped by until now, but I don't know why. It is clearly one of her best, if not her best, novel. The story of this dysfunctional Baltimore family is very well done, well-written, well-paced, with a perfect blend of humor and pathos. Pearl is in her thirties with three young children when her husband walks out on her. She does not have it easy, but she tries her best, which unfortunately does not get her family all the way to Norman Rockwell. The children all have their issues. One brother is ridiculously jealous of another, to the extent that her ruins what may have been his brother's only chance at happiness. Pearl's daughter leads an unsettled life which is somewhat reminiscent of the life of the protagonist in Tyler's more recent Back When We Were Grownups. There is a lot in here, a lot going on, but Tyler always manages to get to the point, so there is no time wasted reading endless paragraphs going nowhere. This novel is very well done and the perfect place to start if you have never read her before.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tyler is the Best! Aug. 25 2001
It is difficult to find anything to say about this book that has not already been said before, here and elsewhere, many times over. I had been saving this book for a long time and now I know what everyone was raving about. Tyler's books often have a theme of abandonment --- caused by death, disappearance, desertion, or just general malaise. No matter what the cause, the characters must go on, often propelled by the grief caused by this abandonment. The author always finds a way for her characters to get through and keep on going. In this book, the strange disappearance of the father, Beck Tull, is never mentioned by his wife and children..... it is as if he never existed. The family goes on, powered by Pearl's sometimes abusive strength and her unspoken grief at being abandoned. Pearl is so enmeshed in her own problems, so inflexible, negative, and narrow-minded that the family never really becomes a cohesive unit. Jenny says that they all grew up and "the three of us turned out fine", but did they really? I think, as Cody says, that they all were "in particles, torn apart, torn all over the place". Ezra, on the other hand, despite his seemingly low self-esteem, is the most optimistic character in the book. He is constantly trying to make the Tulls into a family, as demonstrated by his oft-failed attempts to have a completed family dinner. Even though someone always storms out before the dinner is finished, Ezra keeps on trying, over and over again.
Ezra is obsessed with food because he has a strong need to nurture, and food is his choice of how to do this. Unlike Cody and Jenny, he wants to believe that his family is normal and can have an amicable time together. Pearl is just the opposite of Ezra - her meals, if you can call them that, are tasteless, dull, and rare.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It's ok. Nothing much happens in it.
Published 20 days ago by TL
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Beautiful, brilliant, the best Tyler ever!
Published 2 months ago by fran
5.0 out of 5 stars Family; that which we are born into and that which we try to...
While all of us are aware of the author's propensity for the development of `quirky', if not fully believable characters, this novel is quite different. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ronald W. Maron
5.0 out of 5 stars A TOUCH OF REALITY!
The story begins with 85 year old Pearl Tull, blind and on her deathbed reminiscing about her life, her fears, regrets and her three children. Read more
Published on Dec 25 2011 by Janet Babins
5.0 out of 5 stars FABULOUS!
Pearl Tull is nearing the end of her life but not of her memory. It was a Sunday night in 1944 when her husband left the little row house on Baltimore's Calvert Street, abandoning... Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2011 by Louise Jolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Really A Great Experience!
Anne Tyler is quirky, but a master writer and this is her best! Her way with a story is amazing! I've read twelve of Tyler's novels and this is by far my favorite. Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Grozarks
5.0 out of 5 stars A Real Family
Anne Tyler does it again with her extraordinary ability to create offbeat characters that the reader comes to care deeply about. Read more
Published on Oct. 3 2003 by Julie anne Saldate
4.0 out of 5 stars Dinner table conflict as a metaphor for life
Anne Tyler uses multiple points of view in this, one of her best loved books, tale to flesh out all the relationships and conflicts in the Tull family. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 2003 by Peggy Vincent
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Anne Tyler's best...I loved every minute of this book. Each character is complex and interesting in their own way. Read more
Published on Aug. 7 2003 by JacMac
5.0 out of 5 stars Homesick
The brothers in this novel are so real that I believe I know them.
Tyler shows family relationships not as we wish them to be, but as they often are: the brothers' sibling... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2002 by Barbara Spring
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