Flashback Friday: Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant

Flashback Friday is my own little weekly tradition, in which I pick a book from my reading past to highlight — and you’re invited to join in!

Here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:

  1. Has to be something you’ve read yourself
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

(first published 1982)

From Goodreads:

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 Pearl to raise their three children alone: Jenny, high-spirited and determined, nurturing to strangers but distant to those she loves; the older son, Cody, a wild and incorrigible youth possessed by the lure of power and money; and sweet, clumsy Ezra, Pearl’s favorite, who never stops yearning for the perfect family that could never be his own.

Now Pearl and her three grown children have gathered together again–with anger, hope, and a beautiful, harsh, and dazzling story to tell.

I went through a period in the 1980s/1990s when I just couldn’t get enough of Anne Tyler’s books, and this was the one that started it all for me. No matter the plot, Anne Tyler’s books tend to be about ordinary people just dealing with life, its joys and its disappointments, but full of warmth, honesty, and a fresh tone that makes her writing totally accessible. Soon after reading Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, I also read A Slipping Down Life, The Accidental Tourist, and Searching for Caleb, and have read other books by this author in the years since.

What makes Anne Tyler’s books memorable are the flawed characters and the challenges and crises they face — some more successfully than others. Her books are not large in scope, but rather portray small slices of life that feel real and possible.

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: To join the Flashback Friday fun, write a blog post about a book you love (please mention Bookshelf Fantasies as the Flashback Friday host!) and share your link below. Don’t have a blog post to share? Then share your favorite oldie-but-goodie in the comments section. Jump in!

4 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant

    • It’s been a long time since I read it — let me know if you get to it! Meanwhile, Anne Tyler’s newest book (The Beginner’s Goodbye) sounds good too. Have to put it on the TBR list!

  1. Funny, I had to read this as a school text. As a result, I can’t stand it! Too much time spent taking apart every line! I’ve read other books by Tyler and found them okay but I think this first experience destroyed her for me 😦

    • Sad, isn’t it? I’ve had a conversation about this elsewhere recently — about feeling negatively about a book due to school requirements, overanalyzing, etc, whereas we might have liked it quite a bit if we’d read it on our own. I think there are definitely books I read in high school and college that were ruined for me either by being “required” or just by being at the wrong time in my life, perhaps a bad choice for that particular age. I’ll never forget the high school English teacher who recommended Portnoy’s Complaint to me. Ugh!

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