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Digging to America

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Digging to America covers several years in the lives of two very different families who meet one evening at Baltimore Airport as they await the arrival of their adoptive daughters from Korea. Brad and Bitsy Donaldson are an all-American couple while Sami and Ziba Yazdan are a more reserved couple of Iranian origin. Bitsy comes up with the idea of having an arrival party to celebrate the day their daughters came into their lives each year. The narrative revolves mainly around these parties and other get-togethers over the years with other glimpses of the lives of the main characters and their extended familes in between.

 

The book explores many themes such as differing parenting styles, cultural heritage, grief, unexpected old love and extended families in a wise and often funny way. The main thing that struck me was how realistic the events and characters described were.

 

I must have at least five or six more of Anne Tyler's books on the TBR pile and am now torn between bingeing on them in one go or saving them for a special treat.

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I was held by this one too. I always believe in Ann Tyler's characters. She hits off their dialogue easily and naturally, and the often banal domestic conflicts somehow manage to be engaging. In Digging I especially enjoyed the leaf-clearing scene that captures so typically the co-operative spirit and yet the rivalry among the suburban households in the States.

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I must have at least five or six more of Anne Tyler's books on the TBR pile and am now torn between bingeing on them in one go or saving them for a special treat.
What a dilemma! Been there myself, and I usually keep them as a sure-fire cure for Readers' Block, or a reward for having ploughed through a series of one- or two-star books.

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She's one of those writers whose no-frills, easy-to-read prose often leads to them being under-rated. I think that happens particularly with women writers, who are more likely to write about families than perhaps 'greater' schemes in the world.

It infuriates me when people assume writers like Tyler (and Rose Tremain before her Orange win, and Hilary Mantel before Beyond Black) are just homely writers of pulp women's fiction. Tyler is very wise indeed. There are so many perceptive insights about people in her books,and she doesn't ever take the easy way out. I remember reading this novel, wondering

if the middle-aged Iranian mother/mother-in-law of the Iranian couple would slip into happy-ever-after with the male character who was interested in her

. But Tyler doesn't go for schmaltzy, sentimental endings, she's too true-to-life. It's as if, underneath the apple pie cosiness, she hides a will of steel and a sharp intellect.

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Anne Tyler never lets her readers down, and she has scored again with this book.

 

I was quickly drawn into the the lives of the two families, sharing the slightly edginess and awkwardnessof their interactions as they built up a relationship from a rather artificial beginning.

Tyler manages to portray all the ups and downs that occur between families and friends, and the ebb and flow of their interactions. As usual she highlights the differences between generations, and in this book the different responses within the Iranian family to life in America - and their relationships with the 'All-American' family.

 

I particularly liked the way that the slightly forced friendship imposed on the children didn't really work, but that, unbidden, a warm bond grew unexpectedly amongst the adults.

 

I just loved the ending!

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I was less enamoured by this book than by previous Anne Tyler's. But having said that I nevertheless enjoyed it and marvelled at her ability to create character, to focus on minutiae, and to keep the story line going. How many authors could write several chapters about the parents' struggle to wean a toddler off her pacifier? Or catch the nuances of feeling that the 65 year old Iranian woman has towards her American admirer? Tyler is a past master at pacing the plot and holding the reader's attention to the very end. The reason I am less enthusiastic about this book is that it seemed to creak along, it seemed hard work for the author to keep up the momentum, This she achieves, but it doesn't flow effortlessly as her previous books did for me.

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I was less enamoured by this book than by previous Anne Tyler's. ..... The reason I am less enthusiastic about this book is that it seemed to creak along, it seemed hard work for the author to keep up the momentum, This she achieves, but it doesn't flow effortlessly as her previous books did for me.

 

As an admirer of Anne Tyler's novels, I too felt this book did 'creak' rather and got a bit impatient with it despite its virtues.

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I must have at least five or six more of Anne Tyler's books on the TBR pile and am now torn between bingeing on them in one go or saving them for a special treat.
What a dilemma! Been there myself, and I usually keep them as a sure-fire cure for Readers' Block, or a reward for having ploughed through a series of one- or two-star books.
I think this is a great idea. I loved this book even more than the two previous Anne Tyler books I'd read.

I think she is a great author, she manages to describe the people and the incidents in a very unique way, you feel like you're "there".

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I think this is a great idea. I loved this book even more than the two previous Anne Tyler books I'd read.

I think she is a great author, she manages to describe the people and the incidents in a very unique way, you feel like you're "there".

 

A candidate for the next BGO read perhaps? I've read The Accidental Tourist twice - re-reading anything but classics is a rare thing for me.

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