Hannah's Reviews > Breathing Lessons

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
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's review
Nov 07, 2011

really liked it
Read from November 07 to 18, 2011

I picked this up at a bookstore because of the staff recommendation attached to it. The bookseller said this is a book she rereads often. That was intriguing, as was the back cover blurb. It's a single day in the life of a couple that has been married for nearly thirty years. I've been thinking a lot about marriage lately and marveling about how such a thing is possible, how it can endure.

This is a worthwhile read if only for Maggie. She is the best-written female character I've read in a while. She's dynamic, vibrant, and authentically, heartachingly flawed. The difference in the ways in which she relates to her husband, her children, old friends, and complete strangers was compelling to me. I could see myself very well in her various insecurities. My favorite quotes came from her inner monologues.

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Quotes Hannah Liked

Anne Tyler
“I mean you're given all these lessons for the unimportant things--piano-playing, typing. You're given years and years of lessons in how to balance equations, which Lord knows you will never have to do in normal life. But how about parenthood? Or marriage, either, come to think of it. Before you can drive a car you need a state-approved course of instruction, but driving a car is nothing, nothing, compared to living day in and day out with a husband and raising up a new human being.”
Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons

Anne Tyler
“Now look: Droplets of oil were dotted across the front of her best dress, over the mound of her stomach. She was clumsy and fat-stomached and she didn't even have the sense to wear an apron while she was cooking. Also she had paid way too much for this dress, sixty-four dollars at Hecht's, which would scandalize Ira if he knew. How could she have been so greedy? She dabbed at her nose with the back of her hand. Took a deep breath. Well. Anyhow.”
Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons

Anne Tyler
“Sifting through these layers of belongings while Ira stood mute behind her, Maggie had a sudden view of her life as circular. It forever repeated itself, and it was entirely lacking in hope.”
Anne Tyler, Breathing Lessons

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