Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant begins by introducing the reader to Pearl Tull, who in 1944 was abandoned by her husband and left to raise her three young children, to whom she never fully explains the absence of their father. By her own admission she is an angry, on edge and alone, at times venting her frustrations on her family.
The lives of the Tulls are gradually conveyed through the perspectives of the various family members including the roguish Cody who is consumed with envy of his brother, unassuming Ezra whose often insipid but always cavalier attitude at times becomes grating, and Jenny, who somehow makes it through medical school with her scatter brained attentions and numerous relationships.
The book provides insight into an imperfect but realistic family who you can’t help but identify with, even in brief moments. We see the strengths and weaknesses of the protagonists, who all behave disgracefully at times, yet still manage to evoke sympathy.
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is the type of book that could be perceived differently by different generations and I commend Anne Tyler on her ability to disturb, amuse and move her audience with such a marvellous portrayal of domestic life.
“Through every family run memories, which bind it together – despite everything. The Tulls of Baltimore are no exception. Abandoned by her salesman husband, Pearl is left to bring up her three children along – Cody, a flawed devil, Ezra, a flawed saint, and Jenny, errant and passionate. Now, as Pearl lies dying, stiffly encased in her pride and solitude, the past is unlocked and with it its secrets.”