It began when Lou Bigelow and Toby Maytree first met. He was back home in Provincetown after the war. Maytree first saw her on a bicycle. A red scarf, white shirt, skin clean as eggshell, wide eyes and mouth, shorts. She stopped and leaned on a leg to talk to someone on the street. She laughed, and her loveliness caught his breath. In 1940s ...
It began when Lou Bigelow and Toby Maytree first met. He was back home in Provincetown after the war. Maytree first saw her on a bicycle. A red scarf, white shirt, skin clean as eggshell, wide eyes and mouth, shorts. She stopped and leaned on a leg to talk to someone on the street. She laughed, and her loveliness caught his breath. In 1940s Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, poet Toby Maytree falls in love with Lou Bigelow at first sight. His slow courtship gradually wins her over, and so begins a love story that lasts decades. Surrounded by bohemian friends, living in Toby's shack on the dunes, the two marry, have a child. But when a friend first comes between them, then unexpectedly propels them back into one another's lives, they must each renegotiate what it means to love.
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Dillard has been a favorite for many years. Often elusive and always challenging as a mystic should be, her writing provides moments of startling illumination, "candles struck momentarily in the dark" as Virginia Woolf stated. The Maytrees only adds to her oeuvre, a poetic tale of bonds, loss and overwhelming human passion to overcome individual obsessions with compassion and understanding.
Feb 7, 2008
I think you must have to have a special taste in order to appreciate this, and I am lacking in that kind of insight. It is more myth than novel, more poetry than narrative. Its characters are stylized rather than naturalistic, and it reminded me of the morality plays I studied in English Lit. It is not at all like her only other novel, The Living, which was long and almost Victorian. The plot involves a love that transcends infidelity; the emotional environment tends to perhaps the 60's. If you are very into Annie Dillard, you might like it, but it is not your usual book
Publishers Weekly, 2007-02-05 Lou Bigelow meets her husband-to-be, Toby Maytree, when Toby returns to Provincetown following WWII. In the house Lou inherits from her mother, they read, cook soup, play games with friends, vote and raise a child. Toby writes poetry and does odd jobs; Lou paints. Their unaffected bohemianism fits right in with the Provincetown landscape, which Dillard, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, describes with an offhand but deep historical sense. Years into the marriage, Toby suddenly decamps to Maine with another local woman, Deary Hightoe; flash forward six years to Lou reading Toby's semimonthly letters (and Deary's marginal notes) "with affectionate interest." Dillard, stripping the story to bare facts-plus-backdrop, is after something beyond character and beyond love, though she evokes Lou and Toby's beautifully. Thus, when Deary's heart falters 20 years later and Toby brings her home to Lou for hospice care, Lou puts up water for tea and gets going. She feels too much, not too little, for mere drama, although people who don't know her misread her. In short, simple sentences, Dillard calls on her erudition as a naturalist and her grace as poet to create an enthralling story of marriage-particular and universal, larky and monumental. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2007-08-27 David Rasche's reading of Annie Dillard's lovely new novel is the epitome of serene. He appropriately treats this tale of love lost and regained with calm attention and stillness. However, the combination of his deliberate and thoughtful reading, similar to the way many poets read their poetry, and Dillard's spare and elegant prose may not be for everyone. Add to the mix the soothing sounds of the Windham Hillesque piano pieces that open and close each disc and a listener may be lulled into an almost meditative state or beyond. This audio experience is like floating on ocean swells as the surf roars in the distance: powerful, mesmerizing and relaxing. In a way, it is the perfect beach book: listen as you soak in the sun's rays and drift in and out of the finely crafted, lithe narrative. Be warned, however: this vast and loving epic may not be suitable listening for a tired driver with a long night's journey ahead. Simultaneous release with the HarperCollins hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 5). (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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