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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  13,025 ratings  ·  909 reviews
Publisher's Summary

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 incorrigi
Paperback, 314 pages
Published 1992 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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K.D. Absolutely
Mar 26, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: Man Booker (Finalist)
This is my first time to read 3 books by an author in succession: one, two, three... Just like the saying when it rains, it pours, I am having an Anne Tyler Book Festival. After reading her The Accidental Tourist I went to the bookstore and bought Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and read right away. Then last Friday, when I was winding down with the second book, I bought Breathing Lessons and I am now reading it. The whole experience is like finding a gold mine. Here is Anne Tyler who I never ...more
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 20, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Hooked by Title and Cover
Now this is great literature! It follows the lives of three siblings: Cody is bitter & envious, Ezra kind but excessively passive and Jenn is overly impulsive with a penchant for marrying the wrong men. After their father deserts the family they’re left to be raised by their mother Pearl Tull, a rigid perfectionist with a definite mean streak. What struck a chord for me was how all three children growing up in the same household could all remember their childhood so differently. I thought it ...more
Since I finished DINNER AT THE HOMESICK RESTAURANT yesterday, I have started at least five very different reviews of the novel. I've got a bad case of Prufrockitis. I'm stuck on the "overwhelming question": What am I really willing to pay attention to? As Tyler's work reminds us, what we pay attention to, not only reveals who we are, but also --to a great extent -- shapes who we become. And yet, despite its importance, this point is not what I want to focus on. That I keep discarding drafts of r ...more
This is Anne Tyler's best work. There are no lovable characters but there is no need for someone to love. The story is enough. It's a fantastic labyrinth of bitterness. Eventually, you end up loving to hate all of them.
Reading 'Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant' was something like the warmth of a summer breeze. The on start might not be so engaging but once you settle down in the story, the interest deepens and you are not even halfway through and you decide that this the sort of stuff you have got to like. It would take a lot not to love the story of a mother, her three difficult children, a home that is left fatherless not because of death but a sudden caprice. Or something that had been brewing for long und ...more
At first, I didn't care about any of the children in this book, and by the end, I mostly hated them. This book was dull and disappointing, with an ending that made me furious. But this was also one of those books that, after glaring at it for a few day and letting it soak in, I realized it accomplished it's goal. It evoked something in me, at least, in the end. Though the cover and synopsis might lead you to believe otherwise, this is no beach read. But the fact that I read it over a year ago an ...more
If you have not ever read this book, stop reading this review right now, go pick it up, and don't do anything else until you're done. If you're still reading this then you're either disobedient or you know how truly fabulous this novel is. Anne Tyler is an absolutely genius writer. She takes a series of events that are seemingly nothing--seriously, nothing of "consequence" really happens in this book--but you're captivated from the first chapter.

As I was reading I found myself feeling sympathy f
Tyler's humor, her sense of place, her eccentric characters, her use of language, and her lyrical descriptions are magnificent. Anne Tyler says that Eudora Welty has been the most influential on her writing and the admiration is mutual, as shown by Welty's comment about this novel: "If I could have written the last sentence in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant I'd have been happy for the rest of my life" (Welty in Salwak, p. 11)

Tolstoy famously wrote that "Happy families are all alike; every unh
There used to be a restaurant in Baltimore called Hausner's and I always imagined it might be the model for the Homesick. I don't think it was, though.

I just read this book again, and I find it remarkable that I remembered almost none of it. It's much sadder than I remembered. And, most surprising, I didn't remember the incidents of child abuse. Of all the things to forget! Anne Tyler is noted for her "angel's eye view" of her characters, loving and forgiving even the meanest among them. And she
Usually I really enjoy Anne Tyler's books but I was not able to really engage with this one. It is a story of a dysfunctional family viewed in separate chapters by different members of the family. The book starts well with the mother on her death bed recalling her life and I had great hopes for it at that point. However as we progress through all the very unlikable members of her family I lost sympathy and then interest. At the end I cannot even remember the names of all the main characters. Not ...more
Bojan Gacic
When abandoned by her salesman husband Pearl Tull is left to look after three children. Through a series of crucial life events Anne Tyler examines how each child dealt with the aftermath of a broken family, how some remained bitter and went as far away as possible whilst other remained too close to home, woefully ill-equipped for leading an adult life.

Two words settled and remained in my mind after this one: Damaged. Goods.
Although the preservation of the family as an entity remains no guarante
This book started out slow, but was pretty engaging once you got into it. Homesick is the story of a family. A very dysfunctional family. Of course, who's family isn't dysfunctional, right? This is sort of the point it seems to me.

Each chapter is some part of the family story and each one is told from a different point of view. The mother, the father and the three children are all so very different from one another, but are held together somewhat tenuously by their family ties. The father walke
Bonnie Keyser
Some people read and seem to be looking for friends and their responses to books are colored by their like or dislike of characters. Is Pearl likable? Hell no! She is prickly, stand-iffish, critical and at times horridly abusive of her children. Do we understand her better by the end of the book. Yes! That's the way it is with people and with great authors like Tyler. She presents us with a cast of characters all of whom have been hurt by the abandonment of a close family member. Tyler shows us ...more
This quotation characterizes the entire novel: "You think we're a family," Cody said, turning back. "You think we're some jolly, situation-comedy family when we're in particles, torn apart, torn all over the place, and our mother was a witch... A raving, shrieking, unpredictable witch. She slammed us against the wall and called us scum and vipers, and she wished us dead, shook us till our teeth rattled, screamed in our faces. We never knew from one day to the next, was she all right? Was she not ...more
I have always loved Anne Tyler. Her books are always about people and relationships and she has a way of capturing people and their thoughts.

Spoiler alert: This discusses plot and characters.

This book, however, really did not do it for me. It has a dysfunctional family at its core with essentially no likable characters. The mother, Pearl, is left by her husband who never makes contact with the three children he walked out on. Pearl is insufferable both to others and to her children. She can be c
Last month I introduced myself to Anne Tyler when I FINALLY picked up my dusty copy of her '89 Pulitzer winner, Breathing Lessons, and read it. It was a slow beginning for me, but I eventually came to love her writing style and her quirky observations on life.

So, I put it out there to the ladies of book club. . . does anyone have a copy of that other book she wrote, you know, The Accidental Tourist? One of the ladies not only brought it straight to my doorstep, but also handed me Dinner at the H
In Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy famously wrote that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." All of Anne Tyler's families are different and that is certainly true of the Tull family that we meet in Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant.

We meet the family initially as its irascible matriarch, Pearl Tull, lies dying at age 85. Caught between life and death, she is beset by memories and by regrets. She struggles to tell Ezra, her favorite son, that he should have ha
Tra i libri di Anne Tyler che ho finora letto, questo per ora è il migliore. Non perché sia un romanzo imperdibile o perfetto, semplicemente perché mi ha fatto riflettere su una questione che i romanzieri amano affrontare e studiare fin nei minimi particolari, i legami familiari. La famiglia è quel nodo aggrovigliato in cui sono legati insieme tanti fili separati, che andrebbero ognuno per la propria strada, vite slegate che vanno avanti nel segno dell’indifferenza e dell’egoismo. Ai componenti ...more
This was my first Anne Tyler and I really liked it. Her characters are so real. They are capable of being so flawed and yet so good at the same time. Her style is also so down to earth, which renders her stories more believable.
A family reunites in the last days of its matriarch's life. The point of view shifts between the four main characters, giving a very complete picture of the history of the family. What I love about the book is that, as with its characters, it weaves easily between traged
Anne Tyler is super at writing about families and their struggles. This was a hard book to read because there was so much family sadness, but it was very sensitive, with extremely sympathetic characters. Pearl Tuill is nearing the end of her life and recalling her life raising her three children in Baltimore after her husband left. She managed but without much joy. "Often, like a child peering over the fence at somebody else's party, she gazes wistfully at other families and wonders what their s ...more
Rachel Crooks
"While Pearl Tull was dying, a funny thought occured to her."

I was just going to read this first sentence and then put the book down, but how do you stop reading with a first sentence like that? First, I wondered what the thought was, and secondly, it occured to me that I wouldn't expect funny, random things to come to mind while dying. Wouldn't it trivialize the whole all-encompassing fact that your life is ending?

It captured my interest, and really, the whole book was the same - highlighting t
When my friends first mentioned Anne Tyler’s “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant” to me, I kept misquoting the book title in our conversation, and it simply refused to stick. I suspect part of me was repulsed by a restaurant named Homesick. I was afraid it would turn out to be a sentimental, soppy tale. It did not.

The story was set in Baltimore "where houses were dark and deep and secretive." It was 1944. Pearl Tull’s husband (Beck) had walked out of their marriage and left her alone to raise thr
A loving dysfuntionality… Anne Tyler knows people well. Not just people who are quirky, cruel, venomous, scheming, or famous. She seems to have a place in her heart for families that are dysfunctional and functioning anyways. A colleague of mine describes a good day at work as being, “about 4 or 5 steps up from complete chaos”. The setting of a low bar seems to make any experience enriching just for the few good surprises you may see – someone trying to lend some structure to an unstable family, ...more
Peggy Bonnington
Aug 07, 2012 Peggy Bonnington rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Peggy by: Book club
I think one of the reasons I enjoy Anne Tyler's books so much is the anti-heroic aspect of her characters. Each is imperfect and quirky, but somehow they all begin to grow on you. The interaction among them constitutes much of the story and certainly the reason I get drawn in; the family, one begins to realize, is like all families, perhaps a little like your own in some ways. The imperfections are typical of people one meets and associates with every day.

In an interview included with the downlo
It's hard for me to say how I felt about this book. I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either. It was sad. I felt sad reading it which strangely is the part I liked about it. But I also expected throughout the entire book that something good would happen that would heal this family of the wounds an abusive mother and abandoning father inflict on their small children. I kept looking for the one member that would get it all together and find that space in life where they were or can be happy. ...more
Being unfamiliar with Anne Tyler's works, I was a little worried that Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (a book group pick) would be another subpar contemporary work with no laudable literary qualities. Though not a home run for me (it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner award in 1983), Homesick Restaurant vastly exceeded my low expectations and turned out to be an enjoyable and interesting read.

This well-written novel follows the Tull family through life, beginning with P
Every year, I think Sandra Cisneros bribes the English curriculum writers to try to find a book so bad it will make kids forget about reading The House on Mango Street. This is the closest the curriculum writers have come so far. This is one of the most boring books I have ever read. It is also very depressing. I couldn't care less what happens to some dysfunctional family in Baltimore. I honestly feel the most empathy toward them when I find out they are Orioles fans. (The Orioles are almost as ...more
This was such an emotionally draining read. It was painful and it was exquisite.

My favorite part:

“Everything,” his father said, “comes down to time in the end – to the passing of time, to changing. Ever thought of that? Anything that makes you happy or sad, isn’t it all based on minutes going by? Isn’t happiness expecting something time is going to bring you? Isn’t sadness wishing time back again? Even big things – even mourning a death: aren’t you really just wishing to have the time back when
Jul 19, 2010 Cynthia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mothers of grown children
Shelves: book-group
Update: I've been thinking more about this novel, based my Goodreads friend Reese's review and on my reading of Jane Smiley's "13 Ways of Looking at the Novel." Smiley makes some wonderful points...

"(Smiley, p. 104) And to tell the story of an ordinary family, as Anne Tyler does in "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant," may be the hardest of all to justify. The Tulls have no pretensions to distinction, other than the normal distinctions of ordinary life; they live at a certain address and have ex
This was the first book I read by Anne Tyler. I'm not running out to read another but I did enjoy it well enough. This story makes me wonder what readers thought about it when it first came out in the early 80's. The broken family represented in this book isn't a very foreign concept in the year 2011. Pearl Tull is the mother of 3 children. Her husband leaves the family when her oldest child is about 13. Pearl is sometimes physical with her children but is mostly a verbally abusive mother. For m ...more
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  • The Voyeur
  • The Manikin
  • Persian Nights
  • The Feud
  • That Night
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  • Servants of the Map
  • What I Lived For
  • Waiting for the Mahatma
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • Whites
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • Paradise
  • Mean Spirit
  • Jernigan
  • An Unfinished Season
  • The Home and the World
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and ...more
More about Anne Tyler...
The Accidental Tourist Breathing Lessons Digging to America Saint Maybe Back When We Were Grownups

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“Everything,' his father said, 'comes down to time in the end--to the passing of time, to changing. Ever thought of that? Anything that makes you happy or sad, isn't it all based on minutes going by? Isn't sadness wishing time back again? Even big things--even mourning a death: aren't you really just wishing to have the time back when that person was alive? Or photos--ever notice old photographs? How wistful they make you feel? ... Isn't it just that time for once is stopped that makes you wistful? If only you could turn it back again, you think. If only you could change this or that, undo what you have done, if only you could roll the minutes the other way, for once.” 20 likes
“When you have children, you're obligated to live.” 20 likes
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