Sunday, July 18, 2010

Earthly Possessions, by Anne Tyler

A short, easily-read novel of a woman who, essentially from birth, wants to leave everything behind, wants to part with her "earthly possessions".

Charlotte Emory grows up hearing stories about her birth: her mother, who was fat, gave birth unexpectedly, not knowing she was pregnant. She was in such a fog that afterwards she contended that she'd been given the wrong baby. Charlotte's father, a distracted portrait photographer, dismisses the idea but Charlotte thinks it's true. Certain incidents in her life give some credence to the idea.

Somewhere along the line Charlotte simply thinks she is living the wrong life and she needs to get out. She tries to get rid of things again and again, only to have the persons in her life bring them back. She tries to get out on her own but is more than once drawn back by the needs of her parents. Then, almost out of the blue, she gets married and again is stuck.

Not that she doesn't try to get away. She does, but ends up returning. At the opening of this book she is planning another escape when instead she is taken hostage by a bank robber.

There were times when it seemed like the story might turn into a cute road trip story, full of bizarre characters and incidents. Fortunately, it did not. Instead, ultimately Charlotte realizes what travel really means.

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