About the Book:
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 is determined 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, whether that’s a painstaking Easter lunch or giving a child a ride, a fateful train journey or 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.
Published by Penguin Random House Australia – Chatto & Windus
Released 29th March 2022
Anne Tyler. What is there to even say? There is truly no other author out there like her. I always feel a bit useless writing a review on an Anne Tyler novel, to be honest, because I always love them, and the nature of her writing gives little room for commentary. As with all her previous novels, French Braid has no plot to speak of, but is instead a deep character study of the members of the Garrett family through the generations. This is of course what I love most about Anne Tyler – that she can pull us into the everyday and hold us so entirely captivated for the duration. Because as with all her families, there is much to recognise within, as well as much to contemplate and think over.
‘Oh, the lengths this family would go to so as not to spoil the picture of how things were supposed to be!’
The title of this novel bears a great deal of significance and is explained right before it ends. I don’t think it’s a spoiler if I elaborate on it here, and really, it explains so much about the novel and will give you an insight into what it’s about. One of the characters likens family to the unravelling of a French braid. How the braid leaves the hair rippled for a long time after. He points out that this is similar to how families work, tightly woven for a period and then once unravelled, the ripples remain, crimped in forever. I absolutely love that. I come from a big family, a vast number of cousins, some of which I am in contact with, none of which I actually ever see, due to distance mostly. But the ripples are still there, and we are still crimped together by our shared experiences, even if we probably do all view them differently from each other.
If you’re a fan of Anne Tyler, this novel will not disappoint. If you’ve never read her before (people like this exist?) then consider this your starting place. She is, as ever, stunning, and delivers another brilliant read.
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.