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Breathing Lessons

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The triumphant Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestseller from the author of Ladder of Years and The Accidental Tourist.

The author of the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Accidental Tourist pens another delightful tale of an ordinary couple. The Morans are just average — she is scatterbrained and he whistles. Just when they think they've learned all there is to know about each other, they find out how extraordinary ...

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Breathing Lessons: A Novel

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Overview

The triumphant Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestseller from the author of Ladder of Years and The Accidental Tourist.

The author of the bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Accidental Tourist pens another delightful tale of an ordinary couple. The Morans are just average — she is scatterbrained and he whistles. Just when they think they've learned all there is to know about each other, they find out how extraordinary they really are.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In perhaps her most mainstream, accessible novel so far, Tyler spins a tale of marriage and middle-class lives, in an age when social standards and life expectations have gone askew. While she remains a brilliant observer of human nature, there is a subtle change here in Tyler's focus. Where before her protagonists were eccentric, sometimes slightly fantastical characters who came at the end to a sense of peace, if not happiness, Maggie Moran and her husband Ira are average, unexceptional, even somewhat drab; and outside of some small epiphanies, little is changed between them at the story's close. It's this very realism that makes the story so effective and moving. Taking place on one summer day, when Maggie and Ira drive from Baltimore to Pennsylvania to a funeral, with an accidental detour involving an old black man they pass on the road and a side trip to see their former daughter-in-law and their seven-year-old grandchild, the novel reveals the basic incompatibility of their 28-year marriage and the love that binds them together nonetheless. This is another typical Tyler union of opposites: Maggie is impetuous, scatterbrained, klutzy, accident prone and garrulous; Ira is self-contained, precise, dignified, aloof with, however, an irritating or endearing habit of whistling tunes that betray his inner thoughts. Both feel that their children are strangers, that the generations are "sliding downhill,'' and that somehow they have gone wrong in a society whose values they no longer recognize. With irresistibly funny passages you want to read out loud and poignant insights that illuminate the serious business of sharing lives in an unsettling world, this is Tyler's best novel yet.
Library Journal
Every reader knows a couple like the Morans. Maggie is a compassionate flibbertigibbet whose best intentions always backfire. Dour and sensible Ira, "born competent,'' Maggie thinks, "should have married Ann Landers.'' As they drive inexorably with a few detours toward the most comical funeral in recent fiction, Ira ponders his wasted life and the traffic. Maggie, meanwhile, is hatching a plot she thinks could reunite their son with his long-estrangeed wife and child, based on the evidence she has fabricated. Tyler's most entertaining novel yet, a love story in praise of marriage; essential for all fiction collections.
— Maurice Taylor, Brunswick County Library, Southport, N.C.
Edward Hoagland
. . .[M]s.Tyler's spare, stripped writing style resembles that of the so-called minimalists. . .[but] she is unlike them because of the depth of her affections and the utter absence from her work of a fashionable contempt for life. . . .Ms. Tyler is at the top of her powers. . .
The New York Times Books of the Century, September 11, 1998
From the Publisher
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A TIME MAGAZINE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

“A wonderful novel, glowing with the insight and compassion of an artist’s touch.”
–The Boston Globe

“More powerful and moving than anything she has done.”
–Los Angeles Times

“Simple, wise, funny, touching, and real . . . Tyler is known for offbeat characters, and Maggie Moran is one of her most endearing.”
–The Christian Science Monitor

“An occasion for laughter and tears.”
–New York Post

“SUPERB FICTION: IT SHOWS US HOW TO LIVE.”
–Newsday

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425117743
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/28/1989
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.38 (w) x 6.72 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but 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. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Tyler is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore.

About the Reader
Jill Eikenberry starred as Ann Kelsey in NBC's hit television show L.A. Law. Her other TV appearances include Hill Street Blues and the miniseries Kane and Abel. She is also a veteran stage and film actress, having appeared in several Broadway plays and in such films as Arthur and Hide in Plain Sight.

Biography

Anne Tyler has had a very active imagination all her life. When she was a young girl, she would spend an hour or two after being put to bed every night fantasizing that she was a doctor. She imagined conversations with patients, and pictured their lives as she did so, considering both their illnesses and the intricacies of their backgrounds. She constructed little mental plays around these characters that she would whisper to herself in the dark -- much to the chagrin of her brother, with whom she shared a room. "[H]e used to call out to our parents, ‘Anne's whispering again!'" she once told Barnes & Noble.com. As much as she may have vexed her brother, she also believes that these fantasies helped her to develop into the beloved, award-winning novelist she is today.

Tyler's work is characterized by a meticulous attention to detail, a genuine love of her characters, and a quirky sense of humor. Her public persona is characterized by its own quirks, as well. She refuses to grant face-to-face interviews. She has never publicly read from any of her books. She does not do book signings or tours. All of this has lent a certain mystique to her novels, although Tyler has said that her reluctance to become a public figure status is actually the result of simple shyness, not to mention her desire for her writing to speak for itself. Fortunately, Anne Tyler's work speaks with a clear, fully-realized voice that does not require unnecessary elucidation by the writer.

Tyler published her first novel If Morning Ever Comes in 1964, and that singular voice was already in place. This astute debut that tracks the self-realization of a young man named Ben Joe Hawkins displayed Tyler's characteristic wit and gentle eccentricity right off the bat. Harper's declared the novel "a triumph," and Tyler was on her way to creating an impressive catalog of novels chronicling the every day hopes, fears, dreams, failures, and victories of small-town Americans. Having come of age, herself, in rural North Carolina, Tyler had particular insight into the lives of her characters. Each novel was a little shimmering gem, winning her a devoted following and public accolades that more than compensated for her refusal to appear in public. Her novel Earthly Possessions, the story of a housewife who is taken hostage by a young man during a bank robbery, was released the same year she won an award for "literary excellence and promise of important work to come" from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The book also went on to become a television movie starring Susan Sarandon and Stephen Dorff in 1999.

However, the most well-known adaptation of one of Tyler's novels arrived more than a decade earlier when The Accidental Tourist was made into an Academy Award winning film starring Geena Davis and William Hurt. Consequently, The Accidental Tourist is viewed by some as Tyler's signature novel, covering many of the writer's favorite themes: the push and pull of marriage, the appearance of a romantic eccentric, personal tragedy, and the quest to escape from the drudgery of routine. The Accidental Tourist won the National Book Critics Circle Award and hit number one on The New York Times Bestseller list.

Three years later, Tyler received the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons, which further explored themes of marriage and self-examination. Despite having won the prestigious Pulitzer, Tyler still refused to allow herself to be drawn into the spotlight. Quietly, contemplatively, she chose to continue publishing a sequence of uniformly fine novels, including Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, and The Amateur Marriage.

Anne Tyler's novel Digging to America reexamines many of her chief obsessions, while also possibly drawing upon a personal triumph -- her marriage to Iranian psychiatrist and novelist Taghi Mohammad Modarressi -- and the tragedy of his death in 1997. Digging to America follows the relationship between two families, the Iranian Yazdans and the all-American Donaldsons, as they become closer and closer and affect each other deeper and deeper over a succession of years. Digging to America is arguably Tyler's deepest and most profound work to date. It also delivers more of her peculiar brand of humor, which will surely please her longtime fans, thrilled that she continues spinning tales with the trademark attention to character that has distinguished her stories ever since she was a little girl, whispering to herself in the dark. Tyler may have decided to remain in the dark and out of the public eye, but the stories she has to tell have shed more than their share of light on the lives of her readers.

Good To Know

Tyler first began writing stories at the innocent age of seven. At the time, most of her yarns involved, as she has said, "lucky, lucky girls who got to go west in covered wagons."

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    1. Hometown:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 25, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Duke University, 1961

Read an Excerpt

Breathing Lessons


By Anne Tyler

Random House

Anne Tyler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345485572


Chapter One

Chapter 1

Maggie and Ira Moran had to go to a funeral in Deer Lick, Pennsylvania. Maggie's girlhood friend had lost her husband. Deer Lick lay on a narrow country road some ninety miles north of Baltimore, and the funeral was scheduled for ten-thirty Saturday morning; so Ira figured they should start around eight. This made him grumpy. (He was not an early-morning kind of man.) Also Saturday was his busiest day at work, and he had no one to cover for him. Also their car was in the body shop. It had needed extensive repairs and Saturday morning at opening time, eight o'clock exactly, was the soonest they could get it back. Ira said maybe they'd just better not go, but Maggie said they had to. She and Serena had been friends forever. Or nearly forever: forty-two years, beginning with Miss Kimmel's first grade.

They planned to wake up at seven, but Maggie must have set the alarm wrong and so they overslept. They had to dress in a hurry and rush through breakfast, making do with faucet coffee and cold cereal. Then Ira headed off for the store on foot to leave a note for his customers, and Maggie walked to the body shop. She was wearing her best dress--blue and white sprigged, with cape sleeves--and crisp black pumps, on account of the funeral. The pumps were only medium-heeled but slowed her down some anyway; she was more used to crepe soles. Another problem was that the crotch of her panty hose had somehow slipped to about the middle of her thighs, so she had to take shortened, unnaturally level steps like a chunky little windup toy wheeling along the sidewalk.

Luckily, the body shop was only a few blocks away. (In this part of town things were intermingled--small frame houses like theirs sitting among portrait photographers' studios, one-woman beauty parlors, driving schools, and podiatry clinics.) And the weather was perfect--a warm, sunny day in September, with just enough breeze to cool her face. She patted down her bangs where they tended to frizz out like a forelock. She hugged her dress-up purse under her arm. She turned left at the corner and there was Harbor Body and Fender, with the peeling green garage doors already hoisted up and the cavernous interior smelling of some sharp-scented paint that made her think of nail polish.

She had her check all ready and the manager said the keys were in the car, so in no time she was free to go. The car was parked toward the rear of the shop, an elderly gray-blue Dodge. It looked better than it had in years. They had straightened the rear bumper, replaced the mangled trunk lid, ironed out a half-dozen crimps here and there, and covered over the dapples of rust on the doors. Ira was right: no need to buy a new car after all. She slid behind the wheel. When she turned the ignition key, the radio came on--Mel Spruce's AM Baltimore, a call-in talk show. She let it run, for the moment. She adjusted the seat, which had been moved back for someone taller, and she tilted the rearview mirror downward. Her own face flashed toward her, round and slightly shiny, her blue eyes quirked at the inner corners as if she were worried about something when in fact she was only straining to see in the gloom. She shifted gears and sailed smoothly toward the front of the shop, where the manager stood frowning at a clipboard just outside his office door.

Today's question on AM Baltimore was: "What Makes an Ideal Marriage?" A woman was phoning in to say it was common interests. "Like if you both watch the same kind of programs on TV," she explained. Maggie couldn't care less what made an ideal marriage. (She'd been married twenty-eight years.) She rolled down her window and called, "Bye now!" and the manager glanced up from his clipboard. She glided past him--a woman in charge of herself, for once, lipsticked and medium-heeled and driving an undented car.

A soft voice on the radio said, "Well, I'm about to remarry? The first time was purely for love? It was genuine, true love and it didn't work at all. Next Saturday I'm marrying for security."

Maggie looked over at the dial and said, "Fiona?"

She meant to brake, but accelerated instead and shot out of the garage and directly into the street. A Pepsi truck approaching from the left smashed into her left front fender--the only spot that had never, up till now, had the slightest thing go wrong with it.

Back when Maggie played baseball with her brothers, she used to get hurt but say she was fine, for fear they would make her quit. She'd pick herself up and run on without a limp, even if her knee was killing her. Now she was reminded of that, for when the manager rushed over, shouting, "What the . . . ? Are you all right?" she stared straight ahead in a dignified way and told him, "Certainly. Why do you ask?" and drove on before the Pepsi driver could climb out of his truck, which was probably just as well considering the look on his face. But in fact her fender was making a very upsetting noise, something like a piece of tin dragging over gravel, so as soon as she'd turned the corner and the two men--one scratching his head, one waving his arms--had disappeared from her rearview mirror, she came to a stop. Fiona was not on the radio anymore. Instead a woman with a raspy tenor was comparing her five husbands. Maggie cut the motor and got out. She could see what was causing the trouble. The fender was crumpled inward so the tire was hitting against it; she was surprised the wheel could turn, even. She squatted on the curb, grasped the rim of the fender in both hands, and tugged. (She remembered hunkering low in the tall grass of the outfield and stealthily, wincingly peeling her jeans leg away from the patch of blood on her knee.) Flakes of gray-blue paint fell into her lap. Someone passed on the sidewalk behind her but she pretended not to notice and tugged again. This time the fender moved, not far but enough to clear the tire, and she stood up and dusted off her hands. Then she climbed back inside the car but for a minute simply sat there. "Fiona!" she said again. When she restarted the engine, the radio was advertising bank loans and she switched it off.

Ira was waiting in front of his store, unfamiliar and oddly dashing in his navy suit. A shock of ropy black, gray-threaded hair hung over his forehead. Above him a metal sign swung in the breeze: sam's frame shop. picture framing. matting. your needlework professionally displayed. Sam was Ira's father, who had not had a thing to do with the business since coming down with a "weak heart" thirty years before. Maggie always put "weak heart" in quotation marks. She made a point of ignoring the apartment windows above the shop, where Sam spent his cramped, idle, querulous days with Ira's two sisters. He would probably be standing there watching. She parked next to the curb and slid over to the passenger seat.

Ira's expression was a study as he approached the car. Starting out pleased and approving, he rounded the hood and drew up short when he came upon the left fender. His long, bony, olive face grew longer. His eyes, already so narrow you couldn't be sure if they were black or merely dark brown, turned to puzzled, downward-slanting slits. He opened the door and got in and gave her a sorrowful stare.

"There was an unexpected situation," Maggie told him.

"Just between here and the body shop?"

"I heard Fiona on the radio."

"That's five blocks! Just five or six blocks."

"Ira, Fiona's getting married."

He gave up thinking of the car, she was relieved to see. Something cleared on his forehead. He looked at her a moment and then said, "Fiona who?"

"Fiona your daughter-in-law, Ira. How many Fionas do we know? Fiona the mother of your only grandchild, and now she's up and marrying some total stranger purely for security."

Ira slid the seat farther back and then pulled away from the curb. He seemed to be listening for something--perhaps for the sound of the wheel hitting. But evidently her tug on the fender had done the trick. He said, "Where'd you hear this?"

"On the radio while I was driving."

"They'd announce a thing like that on the radio?"

"She telephoned it in."

"That seems kind of . . . self-important, if you want my honest opinion," Ira said.

"No, she was just--and she said that Jesse was the only one she'd ever truly loved."

"She said this on the radio?"

"It was a talk show, Ira."

"Well, I don't know why everyone has to go spilling their guts in public these days," Ira said.

"Do you suppose Jesse could have been listening?" Maggie asked. The thought had just occurred to her.

"Jesse? At this hour? He's doing well if he's up before noon."

Maggie didn't argue with that, although she could have. The fact was that Jesse was an early riser, and anyhow, he worked on Saturdays. What Ira was implying was that he was shiftless. (Ira was much harder on their son than Maggie was. He didn't see half as many good points to him.) She faced forward and watched the shops and houses sliding past, the few pedestrians out with their dogs. This had been the driest summer in memory and the sidewalks had a chalky look. The air hung like gauze. A boy in front of Poor Man's Grocery was tenderly dusting his bicycle spokes with a cloth.

"So you started out on Empry Street," Ira said.

"Hmm?"

"Where the body shop is."

"Yes, Empry Street."

"And then cut over to Daimler . . ."

He was back on the subject of the fender. She said, "I did it driving out of the garage."

"You mean right there? Right at the body shop?"

"I went to hit the brake but I hit the gas instead."

"How could that happen?"

"Well, Fiona came on the radio and I was startled."

"I mean the brake isn't something you have to think about, Maggie. You've been driving since you were sixteen years old. How could you mix up the brake with the gas pedal?"

"I just did, Ira. All right? I just got startled and I did. So let's drop it."

"I mean a brake is more or less reflex."

"If it means so much to you I'll pay for it out of my salary."

Now it was his turn to hold his tongue. She saw him start to speak and then change his mind. (Her salary was laughable. She tended old folks in a nursing home.)

If they'd had more warning, she thought, she would have cleaned the car's interior before they set out. The dashboard was littered with parking-lot stubs. Soft-drink cups and paper napkins covered the floor at her feet. Also there were loops of black and red wire sagging beneath the glove compartment; nudge them accidentally as you crossed your legs and you'd disconnect the radio. She considered that to be Ira's doing. Men just generated wires and cords and electrical tape everywhere they went, somehow. They might not even be aware of it.


Excerpted from Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Foreword

1. This novel takes place in one day. What effect does this time frame have on the story? Why do you think the author con­structed the book this way? What day is it–what makes it sig­nificant? Why are emotions running high?

2. Maggie’s friend Serena is definitely a secondary character, but over the course of the novel, she comes up again and again. What kind of childhood did Serena have? What kind of mar­riage? What is her relationship to Maggie, and to Ira? Why is her character integral to this book?

3. Did Ira do the right thing to take over his dad’s business and assume the care of his sisters? Did he let himself be trapped? Should he have gone to med school?

4. Ira’s sisters are both, to a greater and lesser degree, mentally ill. How has their illness affected the family? How has it affected Ira and Maggie and their family life?

5. Ira doesn’t talk much–he plays solitaire, whistles, and when he does talk, he “tells the truth.” Is his truth-telling appropriate or harmful? Is it more true or “right” than Maggie’s little white lies and exaggerations

6. Breathing Lessons in some ways is a typical journey story, in which people set forth, have adventures, and end up with a new perspective. Maggie and Ira’s journey is both physical and emo­tional. Where do they go? Whom do they encounter? What hap­pens? Where do they end up?

7. Did you find Maggie irritating or amusing? Do you think she is a nice person? Why did she never go to college? Do you think, as her daughter, Daisy, thinks, that Maggie is ordinary? Do you think, as herhusband, Ira, does, that she behaves as if this is a practice life?

8. This book is written in three parts. Why? How do the differ­ent parts function? Why does the second part exist?

9. Mr. Otis tells a story about his dog Bessie, who couldn’t fetch her ball when it landed on a chair–she would put her nose be­tween the spindles and whine, never thinking to walk around to the front of the chair. “Blind in spots,” says Mr. Otis. How and when does the image of spindles occur elsewhere in the novel?

10. Although there are all sorts of instruction in life for driving and cooking and even breathing, there are few lessons on how to live life. People muddle along. What are the lessons you wish some of these characters had learned?

11. The book opens with a funeral–a funeral that’s also like a high school reunion, where Maggie and Ira see old friends and the toll age and death have taken on them. This is just the first loss we encounter in the book. What are other losses?

12. Maggie intercepts Fiona at an abortion clinic to talk her into having the baby. How does Maggie’s opinion differ from those of the protesters outside the clinic? Is Maggie pro-choice or anti­abortion, or can you tell? Why is her argument persuasive? Do you think Fiona would have gone through with the abortion if Maggie hadn’t talked to her?

13. Maggie has a habit of making things up–lying, you might say, or putting a “hopeful” spin on things. With her well-intended “exaggerations” or lies, she makes people do things that they otherwise might not have done. When are these little lies benign in the book? When do they have a more profound, even destruc­tive result?

14. Jesse and Fiona are very young when they marry. What are their expectations? What disappoints them? What breaks up the marriage? Could the marriage have been saved? Do you agree with Maggie that they still love each other?

15. Maggie assumes that most people look at her marriage with envy and is surprised to hear otherwise. What does her marriage look like from the inside, from her point of view? How do you think Ira regards it? Jesse? Daisy? What does the marriage look like to you?

16. By bedtime, Maggie and Ira have drawn close to each other and are more ready to embark together on a life without having children at home. Do you think that the day’s events also served Leroy well? And the others–Serena, Mr. Otis, Fiona, Leroy– do you think they are better off for their encounters with Ira and Maggie?

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Reading Group Guide

1. This novel takes place in one day. What effect does this time frame have on the story? Why do you think the author con­structed the book this way? What day is it–what makes it sig­nificant? Why are emotions running high?

2. Maggie’s friend Serena is definitely a secondary character, but over the course of the novel, she comes up again and again. What kind of childhood did Serena have? What kind of mar­riage? What is her relationship to Maggie, and to Ira? Why is her character integral to this book?

3. Did Ira do the right thing to take over his dad’s business and assume the care of his sisters? Did he let himself be trapped? Should he have gone to med school?

4. Ira’s sisters are both, to a greater and lesser degree, mentally ill. How has their illness affected the family? How has it affected Ira and Maggie and their family life?

5. Ira doesn’t talk much–he plays solitaire, whistles, and when he does talk, he “tells the truth.” Is his truth-telling appropriate or harmful? Is it more true or “right” than Maggie’s little white lies and exaggerations

6. Breathing Lessons in some ways is a typical journey story, in which people set forth, have adventures, and end up with a new perspective. Maggie and Ira’s journey is both physical and emo­tional. Where do they go? Whom do they encounter? What hap­pens? Where do they end up?

7. Did you find Maggie irritating or amusing? Do you think she is a nice person? Why did she never go to college? Do you think, as her daughter, Daisy, thinks, that Maggie is ordinary? Do you think, as her husband, Ira, does, that she behaves as if this is a practice life?

8. This book is written in three parts. Why? How do the differ­ent parts function? Why does the second part exist?

9. Mr. Otis tells a story about his dog Bessie, who couldn’t fetch her ball when it landed on a chair–she would put her nose be­tween the spindles and whine, never thinking to walk around to the front of the chair. “Blind in spots,” says Mr. Otis. How and when does the image of spindles occur elsewhere in the novel?

10. Although there are all sorts of instruction in life for driving and cooking and even breathing, there are few lessons on how to live life. People muddle along. What are the lessons you wish some of these characters had learned?

11. The book opens with a funeral–a funeral that’s also like a high school reunion, where Maggie and Ira see old friends and the toll age and death have taken on them. This is just the first loss we encounter in the book. What are other losses?

12. Maggie intercepts Fiona at an abortion clinic to talk her into having the baby. How does Maggie’s opinion differ from those of the protesters outside the clinic? Is Maggie pro-choice or anti­abortion, or can you tell? Why is her argument persuasive? Do you think Fiona would have gone through with the abortion if Maggie hadn’t talked to her?

13. Maggie has a habit of making things up–lying, you might say, or putting a “hopeful” spin on things. With her well-intended “exaggerations” or lies, she makes people do things that they otherwise might not have done. When are these little lies benign in the book? When do they have a more profound, even destruc­tive result?

14. Jesse and Fiona are very young when they marry. What are their expectations? What disappoints them? What breaks up the marriage? Could the marriage have been saved? Do you agree with Maggie that they still love each other?

15. Maggie assumes that most people look at her marriage with envy and is surprised to hear otherwise. What does her marriage look like from the inside, from her point of view? How do you think Ira regards it? Jesse? Daisy? What does the marriage look like to you?

16. By bedtime, Maggie and Ira have drawn close to each other and are more ready to embark together on a life without having children at home. Do you think that the day’s events also served Leroy well? And the others–Serena, Mr. Otis, Fiona, Leroy– do you think they are better off for their encounters with Ira and Maggie?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2012

    Much about nothing?

    I find it hard to believe that the average rating is 3 stars. I found it wonderful, worthy of the Pulitzer. It's a great read about how ordinary life can seem and yet Tyler makes it blossom. I read it several years ago and it allowed me to breathe during a difficult vacation when I was alone in a foreign city.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2001

    Great gift for moms...

    I find the book easy to read. It reminds me of the Audrey Hepburn movie 'Two for the Road'. However, I could not totally relate to its characters probably because of the age gap. Nevertheless, I would recommend it to my mom and aunts who are all going through mid-life crisis. oops...

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    A Book About Nothing

    Our book club read this and 4 of 5 were disappointed. I kept reading, thinking I would come to a point at the end when something profound would happen. When it didn't, all I could think was, "Why did I waste my time on that?"

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2005

    disappointing at best!

    I was highly disappointed in this book. I have read other books by this author and loved them, but as a pulitzer prize winner, I feel there were other more deserving masterpieces. If you want a decent story but not full of emotion or in-depth character development, then read this. It is light reading at its best.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2004

    Frustrating Character Study

    Breathing Lessons is a character study of an average married couple. Maggie wants what she feels is best for her family and will meddle in their lives when necessary and Ira just wants his children to grow and become respondsible adults. There are several rather humorous scenes of Maggie interfering in peoples lives. However I was frustrated by the ending of the book as neither character has changed and they will continue their lives the way they always have.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2000

    Anne Tyler did it again!

    Breathing Lessons is an extravagant novel that mostly takes place in a beat up car. Each character has it's own strange habit. Maggie and her complete opposite husband, Ira takes a road trip to an old friend funeral. It was wonderfully written, for each new book she writes gets better and better. Each scene is important because it symbolizes something that'll bring the beginning and end together. The whole book was written about one day with the characters reflecting on the past. This makes the characters more dynamic and realistic. Anne Tyler uses her own sense of writing. She comes up with catchy phrases like 'faucet coffee.' I was never bored but almost confused. It seems like she writes the novel then switches up the chapters. Sometimes I know too much or not enough. By contrasting the characters, subtle details shine through the characters, which make them more realistic. While reading, I compared the characters to me. I'm more of a nitpicker like Maggie. Ira and Maggie have a typical relationship. I'm surprise something like this could be made up. The detail that Tyler puts into her characters is unbelievable. It so unnecessary but makes it worth the while in the end. Breathing Lessons like other books I've read by Tyler entraps you in making you want to know why and what is going to happen next. If you like reading about what other families go through, or you just like an original book, then pick up Breathing Lessons. Families wouldn't be outsiders anymore.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    One of my favorite Anne Tyler books. I loved every minute of the

    One of my favorite Anne Tyler books. I loved every minute of the trip. I loved the way she describes momentary observations.She is a gift.

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  • Posted December 31, 2012

    Enjoyable

    This is an easy read with a common thread through vignettes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    A Favorite

    loved this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Best book

    This is a fantastic story, with charecters that you will love and care about. Very funny at times, laugh out loud funny ! One of my all time favorite books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    Not terrible, but not wonderful

    Moved along slow and steady, but left wondering what was the point. Was not thrilled with the ending - felt like it just dropped off. A friend in book club felt she related to Maggie and enjoyed it (it was also her second time to read it).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2011

    Love it

    love it

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    Very Good

    Always love Anne Tyler. An interesting thoughtful read.

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  • Posted May 22, 2011

    Love it

    This is one of my favorite Anne Tyler books. I lent it to my sister and she gothooked on Anne tyler too

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    A disappointment

    I didn't enjoy this book as much as I had hoped even though it won the Pulitzer Prize. I read it all hoping it would get better but it just ended, no closure in my mind.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Vintage Tyler

    As is true of all of Anne Tyler's book, Breathing Lessons is full of engaging characters and insights about life. I've been a fan of hers for years and this book doesn't disappoint. Lorna

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews

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