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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  17,065 Ratings  ·  1,271 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, 303 pages
Published August 27th 1996 by Ballantine Books (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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Mar 26, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
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
helen the bookowl
Mar 10, 2016 helen the bookowl rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Karen
Mar 09, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
I liked this book and really felt like I knew these characters.,, loved one of the sons, Ezra, he had my heart.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 20, 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
Reese
Jul 18, 2010 Reese rated it it was amazing
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
Xueting
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
Margitte
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
...more
Bam
#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
...more
Jenny
Aug 14, 2007 Jenny rated it liked it
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
Laura
Jul 26, 2007 Laura rated it really liked it
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.
Heather
Feb 17, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Imi
“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
...more
Nidhi Singh
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
Gerald
Aug 06, 2012 Gerald rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Phrynne
May 02, 2014 Phrynne rated it it was ok
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
Rose
Sep 08, 2011 Rose rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Bonnie Keyser
Dec 12, 2013 Bonnie Keyser rated it it was amazing
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
Bojan Gacic
Oct 18, 2014 Bojan Gacic rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Abby
Jul 29, 2011 Abby rated it liked it
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
Cynthia
Jul 19, 2010 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
...more
William
Sep 15, 2016 William rated it it was ok
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
...more
Brian
Mar 06, 2016 Brian rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Amy
Oct 02, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
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
...more
Vic
Aug 20, 2015 Vic rated it it was ok
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
...more
Sandra
Dec 14, 2013 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
Julie
Jun 02, 2013 Julie rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Beatrice
Aug 29, 2016 Beatrice rated it really liked it
Really like a 3.25 but I'll raise it my biggest issue is that I was forced to read it making me like it that much less so that's all
Vonia
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
Akshay Dasgupta
Sep 04, 2016 Akshay Dasgupta rated it really liked it
Family - You sometimes cannot live with them but you certainly cannot live without them !!

A wonderful book about familial love, trials and testings. The story revolves around Pearl Tull, a single mother who works hard to make ends meet for herself and her three children. Soon enough these hardships rob her of her innocent and loving nature and turns her into a short tempered, irritable and a nasty mother.

The three children eventually grow up with their own story to tell. Cody - the eldest and t
...more
Andrea
Jan 12, 2016 Andrea added it
Shelves: abandoned
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!
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  • Unlocking the Air and Other Stories
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  • The Feud
  • Waiting for the Mahatma
  • Leaving the Land
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  • Bear and His Daughter
  • At Weddings and Wakes
  • Persian Nights
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  • The Collected Stories
  • Mr. Ives' Christmas
  • Mean Spirit
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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.” 33 likes
“When you have children, you're obligated to live.” 29 likes
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