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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  17,928 Ratings  ·  1,343 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published 1992 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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Martin Lilford Well, this book taught me a lot about allegory when I read it twenty years ago. The humming of bumble bees, the overflight of small planes, the…moreWell, this book taught me a lot about allegory when I read it twenty years ago. The humming of bumble bees, the overflight of small planes, the trajectory of a misdirected arrow; All should draw the attention to the intersection of Pearl's life with Beck's feckless, thoughtless love.(less)
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Community Reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Mar 20, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 02, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book and really felt like I knew these characters.,, loved one of the sons, Ezra, he had my heart.
helen the bookowl
This was my second read by Anne Tyler, and I instantly knew that I loved it as much as the first one. However, it wasn't until the very last pages until I realized what it is exactly that I love so much about her stories: They speak the truth!
From the two books I've read by her so far (this one and "A Spool of Blue Thread"), I can gather that Anne Tyler writes about family life and the dynamics between family members. She's a master at creating a clever plot that hides things and leaves you wan
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 14, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it it was amazing  ·  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
I think any aspiring writer (myself included) should read this book by Anne Tyler. It doesn't have the best "storyline" if there is one really here, it's not always engaging plot wise because her playing with different points of view left me quite disconnected from the characters when they don't appear after a while or suddenly a big chronological time jump happens. But it kept me reading because of the amazing, mind-blowing writing! Seriously, this are some real messed up characters and family, ...more
Oct 31, 2009 Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 my second encounter with Anne Tyler's books and this time is as good as the first one.

Pearl Tull raises her three kids after her husband just pack up and go. It's in the 1940 somewhere and there's not much a fuzz when it happens. Pearl stays loyal to the scroundel but also turns out to be an often miss-understood, mean and abusive mother. Most of the time it is verbal, but the effect on her children is as damaging as their father's abandonment.

How they approached life is evident in the
#2016-usa-geography-challenge: MARYLAND

Once again, Anne Tyler has written a terrific book about broken families and eccentric, wounded people. The Tull family appears to have survived their father walking out on them as children but every family member seems to remember the events of their childhood a bit differently. Was Pearl a loving mother or an abusive shrew? Or was she just doing the best she could in a difficult situation?
What experiences we give emphasis to seem to shape who we become a
Jun 27, 2007 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thechildinlit
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
Jul 26, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
“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.”

Books about dysfunctional families are my favourite. This is my first book by Tyler, but it definitely won't be my last. The plot is quite simple, as Tyler's focus is the day to day lives across the years of this American family. She superbly intertwines the perspectives of four distinct characters, a
Feb 17, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nidhi Singh
Dec 22, 2011 Nidhi Singh rated it really liked it
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
May 05, 2009 Gerald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 01, 2014 Phrynne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 30, 2009 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bonnie Keyser
Dec 09, 2013 Bonnie Keyser rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 28, 2007 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Bojan Gacic
Oct 14, 2014 Bojan Gacic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 16, 2011 Abby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 01, 2013 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 15, 2016 William rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review contains spoilers:

I found this very normal as a certain type of novel. The type that portrays the mostly everyday life of a person/family/etc over a period of time, delving into their thoughts and feelings, to look into the underlying forces that guide our human experience. In this case, it's a family, and their lives are profoundly uninteresting most of the time, and wildly implausible some of the time. I suppose this could provide fertile ground for the whole delving-into-the-under
Feb 01, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel sat on my "to read" pile for years, and boy do I regret that now. This is one of the best written character studies I have ever come across in my reading life. From the first page I was struck by the clarity and humanity of the writing, and the depth of reality that oozed from the characters as I kept turning the pages.
I won't rehash plot points here, but contrary to what some of these reviews say, there actually is a plot. We peek into the life of Pearl Tull from teenage years to dea
Mar 05, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 18, 2012 Vic rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 19, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I can't do it. Page after page of bleak bitterness. Perhaps, I didn't really give it the chance it may deserve, but life is too short!
The fourth Anne Tyler novel for me. What I love about her is how she pushes her characters; where many authors fail, she succeeds. Although there are some characters I feel she could have explored further, those that she chooses as main protagonists are thoroughly tested; their psyches are explored, their lives uncovered. All her novels are insightful forays into relationships, friendships, marriages, families. Quite often, all of the above. In this way, a few months later, her stories are forge ...more
Jan 16, 2010 Dorothy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 21, 2013 Zach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  • The Manikin
  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
  • What I Lived For
  • Rabbis and Wives
  • The Feud
  • Waiting for the Mahatma
  • Leaving the Land
  • Whites
  • Bear and His Daughter
  • At Weddings and Wakes
  • Persian Nights
  • The Voyeur
  • Shakespeare's Kitchen
  • Paradise
  • The Collected Stories
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • Mean Spirit
  • American Woman
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 a ...more
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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.” 34 likes
“When you have children, you're obligated to live.” 28 likes
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