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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The major new novel from the beloved prize-winning author - a brilliantly perceptive, painfully true and funny journey deep into one family's foibles, from the 1950s right up to the changed world of today.

When the kids are grown and Mercy Garrett gradually moves herself out of the family home, everyone determines not to notice.

Over at her studio, she wants space and silence. She won't allow any family clutter. Not even their cat, Desmond.

Yet it is a clutter of untidy moments that forms the Garretts' family life over the decades, from giving a child a ride to a painstaking Easter lunch, a fateful train journey to an unexpected homecoming.

And it all begins in 1959, with a family holiday to a cabin by a lake. It's the only one the Garretts will ever take, but its effects will ripple through the generations.

©2022 Anne Tyler (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"If Anne Tyler isn't the best writer in the world, who is?" (BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour)

What listeners say about French Braid

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Wonderful!

Beautiful writing as ever from the queen of characterisation. I especially like the way this spans so many years, which gives it an epic feel.

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Wow. just wow 😲😳😲😳😲😳😲😳

Enjoyed this book immensely. Well written & performed - gripping but also wonderful to fall asleep to. Had to listen twice as didn't listen properly the first time - so praps not all that gripping!

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Dull dull and more dull

I was desperately waiting for there to be a storyline. Didn't happen unfortunately. Wouldn't recommend.

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Classic Tyler

Difficult to know what to say: if you’re a fan of Anne Tyler you’ll love this. I love Mercy as an older person as she has a clear idea of what she wants from the rest of her life. The narration is perfectly pitched for this type of detailed and slightly rambling story.

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A story about everything and nothing

The male voices came up short but didn't detract from the pleasure or entertainment value. I found myself interacting with the story, crossing my fingers at times hoping things would work out, laughing at silly things, nodding my head. I think it'd make a great book club choice with so much substance for discussion on relationships, decisions taken. Each character leaves an impact. A good read all round.

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Sixty years of a family plaited together



Sixty years of a family plaited together

I loved this and found it profoundly moving. Anne Tyler born in 1941 is especially qualified to write this poignant chart of the Garett family through six decades from 1959 right up to the Pandemic, revealing how the sprawling legacy of members’ traits and actions ripple through the generations, braided together as in a French braid. (a French plait to me). Thus 7 year-old David, a quirky solitary little boy on the family lake-side holiday at the beginning, ricochets through life and at the end is a fond grandfather, never having recovered from his father’s harsh misjudged attempt to make him swim on that childhood trip.
Tyler’s skill is in making ordinary lives totally involving and so startlingly real in all their complexities that they live on beyond the page. A natural death (I won’t spoil it, there are bound to be many but you’ll know which one) is truly shocking. Listeners will identify with many themes, marriages and situations: Mercy breaks away from her husband when the children have left home, not because she can’t stand him, but because she wants to paint in a studio of her own and be HER. There’s the joys of little children and the visceral sense of loss as they turn into sometimes disappointing adults balanced by the comforts of grand-parenting. She is equally insightful on men as well as women and of course the subtle complex relationships between them .
It takes tremendous skill to create these family networks , to maintain interest and to trigger the listener’s thoughts and empathies by a passing comment or a turn of phrase.. Mercy muses in passing on marriage on how the quality initially found most attractive in a spouse can become the most loathed with time. The many similes are sewn in so subtly they can be missed: fungus on a tree stick out like CDs when you press eject. Yes they do! Robin remembers the ‘mute damp misery’ of his mother abandoned by his father ‘curled like a comma on the sofa’ throughout his childhood, making him the man he grew to be.
So much to enjoy, think about and remember. Beautifully read too.


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engaging

really enjoyed this, delightful story told with Anne Tyler's usual perceptive observations about real people. beautifully read.

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  • kk
  • 28-07-22

Dull, dull, dull.

Couldn't be bothered to listen to any more paint drying. Don't know what possessed me to keep going with this tedium.

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Exquisite

Anne Tyler presents a masterful story of the daily life and relationships of a family over several generations. Her observation of the quirks and details of each character are exquisite.
Narrated excellently by Kimberley Farr.

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Fabulous

A classic Anne Tyler spanning several generations. I loved it! Beautifully narrated and well worth a listen.