I usually really enjoy Anne Tyler and I’ve read quite a number, but not so much this time so it’s a good thing I got this from the library. It starts out with Willa as a young girl in her very middle class, Baltimore, Maryland home. The family is more dysfunctional that it would seem, but we only get to know that very slowly.
By Anne Tyler
Read by Kimberly Farr 9h 12m
Rating 8 /Contemp. Lit
Because ver shortly we are presented with the fact that all is not what it seems – In the next chapter when Willa flying home from college with her boyfriend for a visit, she is convinced that a gun was pointed into her ribcage and she was told not to make a sound or she would be killed. That’s pretty unlikely and we come to see her as a possibly unreliable in general. Her boyfriend likes her though and later marries her.
It’s the story of a disingenuous and passive aggressive woman who seems ever so nice on the outside but struggles with her own desires. Willa can barely even mention that she has desires. Above all she wants to appear calm and reliable, responsive to the other people in her life. Rather than asking her husband to pick her up at the airport she’s disappointed that he doesn’t offer.
She and her husband move and have two boys which are mostly raised when Willa’s husband is suddenly killed in a car accident – he gets. bit too aggressive while driving and angry – road rage. Wilma knows this is in part her fault but I didn’t think that was obvious –
She marries again and her new husband, Peter, is ever so nice but he’s not perfect. One day Wilma gets a call from a woman in Arizona who says that Wilma’s granddaughter needs someone to take care of her because her mother has been shot in the leg and is in the hospital. Wilma has no grandchildren but she can’t bring herself to say no. So against her husband’s better judgement, they fly to Arizona and take up caring for the precocious Cheryl, age 6, and her mother, Darlene. It seems that Darlene was the girlfriend of one of her sons but it’s not his child and it gets complicated.
Willa feels loved and needed there, but Peter certainly doesn’t. Peter goes home and Willa stays on awhile. It gets tangled.
One thing about Anne Tyler’s books is that they are character driven. The plots are not intense and these are not page-turners. Her writing style seems very clear and to the point but leaves plenty of room for interpretation.