"He wished he had inhabited more of his life, used it better, filled it fuller."
This is the first book that I have read by Anne Tyler. It is a wonderful and compelling novel about the marriage gone horribly wrong of two people and the effects that it has across three generations. Michael and Pauline are young when they meet at Michael's mother's grocery store in the early 1940s. Michael is smitten at first site, but from the beginning, it is evident that the two are not well-suited to be together. They have a short courtship before rushing off to a hasty marriage due to Michael returning from the war.
Throughout the next sixty years, Michael and Pauline suffer through an unhappy marriage. They are both relatively decent people, but they just don't work well together. Each chapter focuses on a short time in their lives and is filled with rich detail and insight into themselves and their relationship. As the years pass, we also get a glimpse at how their actions effect their children and grandchildren.
I thought this book was extremely well-written and did a great job of writing about realistic characters and realistic situations throughout an ordinary life. It wasn't all that fun to read and was actually pretty depressing, but that wasn't what the book was about. It was heartbreaking to read at times, but was able to cause the reader to relate to each of the characters in different ways. I loved the descriptions of the time periods and way of life during different time periods. The vivid detail works well with the chapters. The book spans many decades, but does so in a way that readers don't see the character throughout every event in their lives and instead focuses on specific periods with long gaps in between. I really thought that this worked well in this book and it is one that I will remember for a long time. I will definitely be looking at more books by this author.