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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – August 27, 1996

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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First edition (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449911594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449911594
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Beautiful . . . funny, heart-hammering, wise . . . Superb entertainment.”
–The New York Times

“A book that should join those few that every literate person will have to read.”
–The Boston Globe

“A novelist who knows what a proper story is . . . [Tyler is] not only a good and artful writer, but a wise one as well.”

“Anne Tyler is surely one of the most satisfying novelists working in America today.”
–Chicago Tribune

“In her ninth novel she has arrived at a new level of power.”
–JOHN UPDIKE, The New Yorker

From the Publisher

I first read this book back in 1984, long before I was in the publishing business. I was traveling through Greece with a friend and our hotel had shelves of books that other guests had left behind and were free for the taking.. I picked up Dinner.... knowing absolutely nothing about it. What a wonderful surprise and discovery!. I felt I had never read anything quite like it.The characters were so real, so familiar that I felt I did actually know them. In fact, for weeks after I finished the book, I had dreams about Ezra, one of the characters in the book and the owner of the Homesick Restaurant. In the dreams, he was my brother and he was just as sweet and vulnerable as he was in the book. I never re-read books because I'm usually disappointed the second time around because the sense of newness and discovery is gone. But I did read Dinner.... again and loved it as much, and even found new things I hadn't noticed before. This novel is truly a classic.
--Maureen O'Neal

More About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her 17th novel. Her 11th, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

This is the third time I have read this book.
Anne Tyler does a great job creating very real characters.
Many of the characters were very typical of novels.
Breehan Pfeiffer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Peter or Mandy Houk on May 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
First I have to admit my bias ... I have read every Anne Tyler and will read them all again. That said, this is easily my favorite. Anne Tyler's gift is in presenting the reader with the extraordinary lives of ordinary people and polishing them into sparkling clarity. This is not a book for the plot-driven reader (nor are any of Tyler's). The plot seems to almost swirl around the sometimes bewildered characters, bringing their true selves into sharp, unsympathetic focus. The soul of this novel is in joining the Tull family members on their respective journeys ... the mother, Pearl, into her fears and regrets and resolutions at death (didn't blow a plot point, that's there on the first page), and each of the children into discovering how to soothe their own wounds and somehow become a family. This book is about pain, love, feeling like a stranger in your own family, forgiveness, loss, and allowing yourself and the people around you to be imperfect. Please read it!
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Anne Tyler has written a beautifully lighthanded, poignantly observed novel of family life that rings so true it hurts. The story of the Tulls is for the most part unexceptional. But it is from this ordinariness that the novel derives its strength. Real life is for most people about coping. All the Tulls are dysfunctional in their own ways. Beck, the father, deserts his family and it is tempting to believe he is the cause of all their troubles. By the end of the story, you're not so sure. Pearl, the mother, is run ragged bringing up the children on her own but she is no saint. She resorts to abuse which scars the children (albeit to different degrees). Cody, the eldest, develops such severe hangups over his father's desertion and his mother's display of favouritism he becomes emotionally estranged from the family. His resentment of his younger brother borders on cruelty and is painful to read. Sister Jenny, also a victim of abuse by her mother, grows up scatty and remote. Ezra, the gentlest of the three children and owner of the "Homesick Restaurant" is the most sympathetically drawn character but even then, there is a feeling of defeat and being thwarted about his whole life. There are no saints, heroes or villains in the novel,only ordinary men and women who are different shades of grey. There are two scenes in the novel which are specially poignant. One is where Pearl in her old age relives one captured moment of happiness from an old diary. Another is where Beck returns momentarily for a family reunion at Ezra's "Homesick Restaurant" on the occasion of Pearl's funeral. The reunion is, like all of Ezra's earlier attempts, a failure. But Tyler seems to be saying perhaps it doesn't matter after all . Not ultimately, since failure is an integral part of family life. Like Pearl's memory of her youthful past, it's living that makes us human. Reading this novel won't change your life. But it will add to it.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on August 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to find anything to say about this book that has not already been said before, here and elsewhere, many times over. I had been saving this book for a long time and now I know what everyone was raving about. Tyler's books often have a theme of abandonment --- caused by death, disappearance, desertion, or just general malaise. No matter what the cause, the characters must go on, often propelled by the grief caused by this abandonment. The author always finds a way for her characters to get through and keep on going. In this book, the strange disappearance of the father, Beck Tull, is never mentioned by his wife and children..... it is as if he never existed. The family goes on, powered by Pearl's sometimes abusive strength and her unspoken grief at being abandoned. Pearl is so enmeshed in her own problems, so inflexible, negative, and narrow-minded that the family never really becomes a cohesive unit. Jenny says that they all grew up and "the three of us turned out fine", but did they really? I think, as Cody says, that they all were "in particles, torn apart, torn all over the place". Ezra, on the other hand, despite his seemingly low self-esteem, is the most optimistic character in the book. He is constantly trying to make the Tulls into a family, as demonstrated by his oft-failed attempts to have a completed family dinner. Even though someone always storms out before the dinner is finished, Ezra keeps on trying, over and over again.
Ezra is obsessed with food because he has a strong need to nurture, and food is his choice of how to do this. Unlike Cody and Jenny, he wants to believe that his family is normal and can have an amicable time together. Pearl is just the opposite of Ezra - her meals, if you can call them that, are tasteless, dull, and rare.
Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 2001
Format: Library Binding
In her novel, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Anne Tyler shows how families endure through difficult times and the spirit that ties a family together. Tyler changes perspective and uses flashbacks to give a complete view of the Tull's family relations and their struggle to connect to each other. Tyler's characters describe one incident from the past from many perspectives to show the different views that exist concerning the same problem. For example, each character describes a family outing turned disaster as they remember it. The discrepancies illustrate each character's view of their life. Cody sees the outing as another example of his family's oddities. He also sees the outing as another time when his brother, Ezra, beat him and got away with causing a problem. Pearl remembers it as a turning point for the family. She remembers the happy days before and the hardships after. Ezra relives his guilt every time he remembers the accident he caused, but did not get punished for. Beck recalls the trip as an attempt to have fun as a family and to enjoy each other's company. He remembers the trip as another one of his well-intentioned attempts at normal family life that only led to the family's failure. The different perspectives of the same event show some of the causes of the family's difficulties. How each family member views this one occasion defines each character's philosophies of life and the principles they live by. Their different philosophies cause the friction that ignites the family problems. The family is unable to relate to each other on any level other than blood. Tyler shows the Tull's struggle to stay together with their repeated attempts at family dinners.Read more ›
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