Skip to content

Dinner at Homesick Restaurant: Book Review

Book Review Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Homesick Restaurant
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

This award-winner is one of three to be nominated for a Pulitzer Award.

A Functional Book about a Dysfunctional Family

Memory is not particularly linear – it is associative, repetitive, subjective and porous. But the writer needs to convey disorder and dysfunction without making the novel itself disorderly or dysfunctional. Dana Spiotta

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is anything but disorderly. In Anne Tyler’s favorite book, the reader meets a dysfunctional family raised by a single mother, Pearl. The story unfurls like a flag in a gentle breeze, from the perspective of each character in the household, starting and ending with Pearl’s death.

Tyler stated “I’m so attached to the characters, I still miss them, even all these years later. Like the reader, Tyler is “addicted to the sensation of living lives I would not experience in reality.”

Each Character Shares His or Her Perspective

The daughter in the story, Jenny says that “marriage is like a disaster movie; it flings people together and exposes their true characters.” The tornado of Pearl’s struggle to cope with the pressures of raising her children alone trap Cody, Ezra, and Jenny in a never-ending whirlwind. They survive the story in their unique way. Ezra, Anne Tyler’s favorite character, built his life around his dream, the Homesick Restaurant.

In the beginning, a dying Pearl reminisces over her life. The reader meets her lean, rangy love, Beck. The smart young fellow with wavy black hair “paid her compliments that made her uncomfortable till she could get off alone in her room and savor them.” Against her parent’s wishes, she married the man six years her junior. Immediately following their marriage, they moved away from her family. The reader senses her disappointment as the necessary move never allowed her to “enjoy her new status among her girlfriends.”

They moved often. After six years, the couple started building their family. Pearl was thirty-six. Over the ensuing years, Cody, Ezra, and Jenny complicated her life with doctors and school transcripts. In the process, she lost contact with her extended friends and family. Anxiety puckered her forehead. Then Beck left. Pearl felt “she was sinking in at the center…”

Issues that started early seemed to plague the characters throughout the book. Cody tried hard as a child to please his father. He remembered his younger brother Ezra with a touch of jealousy.

“All right Ezra … Just don’t get carried away like Cody here did. …There was no one as clumsy as Ezra. …It seemed his attention had been caught by a cloud formation over to the south. … (Yet, his) arrow (not Cody’s) sped in a straight, swift path, no arc to it at all. As if guided by an invisible thread… It split the length of the arrow that Beck had already jammed in and landed at the center of the bull’s-eye, quivering.”

Pearl and Beck’s children turned out in a way that society would approve, acceptably successful, which pleased Beck. He could not see that under the surface of their successes, their hearts and souls were frazzled and not knit all the way through. Tyler portrays neither Beck nor his wife, Pearl, as evil people. Their behaviors toward each other and their children left scars and scandalized readers. Pearl never quit loving Beck, nor did he stop caring about her. The children lived through the book long enough to make their own mistakes, and not replicate their parents’ mistakes. Ezra dedicated his restaurant to what might have been the unexpressed desire of each of them, homesick.

Conclusion

In my opinion, Beck did not give a satisfying answer about why he left them at the beginning of the book. One reviewer stated that the end was “strong and not saccharine.” Strong probably meant the reader wanted more. Tyler did not answer all of my questions. Even so, I finished Homesick Restaurant, understanding the deserting father, in a way I did not expect.

For those, like me, who came from a broken home, this book brought a measure of understanding and forgiveness for the humanity of my parents. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant helped me understand why some men and women need to escape from home and the oppressing responsibilities. They are forgivable even though they justify leaving with pathetic excuses.

As adults, most of us realize that it is almost impossible to quit loving someone you are meant to love no matter how much hurt has passed through your heart on their account. Furthermore, parents or other loved ones can not be what you expect or want them to be no matter how hard they try. They can only be themselves just as each of us can only be who we are.

Homesick Restaurant
Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler (born October 25, 1941) has published 20 novels and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for Breathing Lessons. Her best known of which are Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), The Accidental Tourist (1985), and Breathing Lessons (1988). Because of her believable quirky characters and accurate details about their inner lives, she has also won many prestigious awards. She writes about the American family celebrating the unremarkable Americans and the ordinary aspects of their everyday lives. Growing up in Raleigh, North Carolina, she now lives in Baltimore, Maryland and is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.

Related Posts

Searching for Caleb

Accidental Tourist

5 replies »

  1. It’s been a long time since I read this book. You’ve sparked a few memories, including ones that meant I enjoyed it. Perhaps I’ll have to give it a re-read as soon as I unpack these boxes of books…but that means I need to do something about bookshelves….

    Just popping in to say hello. I’m only in blogosphere occasionally these days. Trying to focus on traditional publishing routes….hope all is well with you and yours!

    Like

    • I’ve missed you! I get that, though. There are times in life when there just are not enough hours in the day for blogging AND living. I appreciate the visit! 🙂

      Like

  2. Well, this book sounds right up my alley Marsha. Another wonderful review, and I’ve added to my TBR. Thanks as always! 🙂

    Like

Translate

Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

Personal Links

Verified Services

View Full Profile →

#StoryChat Y2

Writer’s Quote Wednesdays

How to Link to a Challenge

8 Benefits of Photo Challenges

8 benefits of Challenges

For the Love of Challenges

Teacher Resources

Click to Get Early Childhood Teaching Resources
SS Logo
Sunday Stills Logo

Becky B’s Squares April – Bright

Cee’s Black & White Challenge

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge

Featured Blogger Award

Free Download

Use Canva to Create Social Media

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 16,528 other followers

Categories

Blogs I Follow

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 169,442 hits
SPACE STORIES BY GIFT

explore space; discover stories beyond

Page 'n Pen

Read to live; Live to write

Hourglass Poetry

LETTERS to TIME PASSING

Churape's Dungeon and Stuff

Movie, TV, and Game Reviews

dawn2dawn photography

Tall Tales From The Field

Cognac Project

Healing CPTSD with Poetry and Photography

Micro of the Macro

Recognizing & appreciating our oneness with Nature

The59Club

Enjoying life and the empty nest while easing into retirement,

Retirementally Challenged

Navigating through my post-work world

Brashley Photography

Photographing.... that one moment in time...

Myths of the Mirror

Life is make believe, fantasy given form

A Multitude of Musings

On the Way to Wholeness

XingfuMama

Exploring my world with pictures and words.

Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

Welcome to the Anglo Swiss World

Katy Trail Creations

Creating Memories through Writing, Hobbies and Photos. And I play & teach 5-string banjo.

No Facilities

Random thoughts, life lessons, hopes and dreams

Oddments

In search of story

nbsmithblog...random digressions and musings

Haiku...short and sweet (or not so sweet)

Allusionary Assembly

The Writing of Kerry E.B. Black

snapshotsincursive

Interesting stories about everyday moments.

eklastic

Refugees welcome - Flüchtlinge willkommen I am teaching German to refugees. Ich unterrichte geflüchtete Menschen in der deutschen Sprache. I am writing this blog in English and German because my friends speak English and German. Ich schreibe auf Deutsch und Englisch, weil meine Freunde Deutsch und Englisch sprechen.

Tish Farrell

Writer on the Edge

The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

Life...one big adventure

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Travel with Intent

A photographer's view of the world - words and images to inspire your travels and your dreams

And Anyways...

Author, Baker, Sunrise Chaser

%d bloggers like this: