Monday, December 9, 2013


I think this is the third Anne Tyler novel I've read in which a woman becomes disenchanted with her mundane life.  (The other two are Ladder of Years and Back WhenWe Were Grownups.)  Charlotte Emory has decided to leave her husband, but she hadn't planned to do it as the hostage of a bank robber named Jake.  She's not exactly a complicit victim, but neither is she furiously struggling to get away.  Of course, Jake does not seem all that threatening, really, even with a gun poked in Charlotte's side.  As he sees it, he's not really even a criminal; he's just impulsive.  He steals a beat-up car, and then the pair embarks on an unlikely road trip.  One of their first stops is to pick up Mindy, pregnant with Jake's child, and eager to escape a home for unwed mothers.  Next stop is Perch, Florida, to check in with Jake's buddy, Oliver.  This is the point at which Mindy finally discovers that Jake is on the run from the law and that Charlotte is his hostage.  Before I give the impression that Mindy is incredibly dim, let me just say that she has a way of wrapping Jake around her little finger that is pretty impressive.  Here's the thing:  Charlotte is the main character, but she's so passive that she's almost like window dressing—a fly on the wall watching the interaction between Jake and Mindy.  She can't remain as a third wheel to this couple, forever, though, so something's got to give.  I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn't wild about the ending, which diminished my enjoyment of the book just a bit.

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