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Ron Charles Reviews Anne Tyler’s “French Braid”

Anne Tyler’s ‘French Braid’ is entirely familiar, and that’s just perfect

By Ron Charles

Everything about Anne Tyler’s 24th novel, “French Braid,” is immediately recognizable to her fans. The story offers such a complete checklist of the author’s usual motifs and themes that it could serve as the Guidebook to Anne Tyler in the Wild. The insular Baltimore family, the quirky occupations, the special foods — they all move across these pages as predictably as the phases of the moon.

There are times when such familiarity might feel tiresome. But we’re not in one of those times. Indeed, given today’s slate of horror and chaos, the rich melody of “French Braid” offers the comfort of a beloved hymn. It doesn’t even matter if you believe in the sanctity of family life; the sound alone brings solace.

The Garretts are a classic Tyler tribe: responsible, middle-class, kind but flinty. Robin and Mercy have inherited the family plumbing supply store. They’re the parents of three blue-eyed children: two teenage daughters — one responsible, one boy-crazy — and a 7-year-old son who’s adorably serious and “often seemed weirdly smart about people.” Read the full review at the Washington Post.

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