Reading guide for The Maytrees by Annie Dillard

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Maytrees

A Novel

By Annie Dillard

The Maytrees
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Jun 2007,
    216 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2008,
    240 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

In post World War II Cape Cod, Toby Maytree falls in love with Lou Bigelow, a reserved, Ingrid Bergman-like beauty. The two lovers marry and live among their bohemian friends in a shack on the Provincetown seaside. The Maytrees need very little to pass their days: books, poetry, painting. The arrival of their young son Petie seemingly completes them. Years later, Toby leaves Lou for their friend, free-spirited Deary. Lou stays in Provincetown with her grief, living alone, and even enjoying her solitude, while Toby and Deary move to Maine. When Toby finally returns, it's to ask Lou the unthinkable: to care for dying Deary. A story of love and affection, The Maytrees follows the ebb and flow of life and forgiveness, and our very tenacious existence on this planet.


Questions for Discussion

  1. When Maytree asks, "Say, Lou—here's a question. Keats put, ‘Who shall say between Man and Woman which is the more delighted?' What do you think?" Lou answers "The woman." Why does Lou add later that night as Maytree is falling asleep, "If the man is John Keats" (page 38)?
  2. What does Maytree feel towards Lou when Pete gets hit by the car? Why does her forgiveness of the driver so upset him, and how does her ability to forgive ultimately bring him back to her?
  3. How does Toby and Lou's love for each other mimic the ebb and flow of the seaside?
  4. Lou's father left her when she was young. How does this influence how she handles Toby leaving her?
  5. Most of the Maytrees friends, including Deary, fall in and out of relationships. Despite the still conservative post World War II era, none of these relationships feel salacious. How and why does it take on a different feeling when it happens to the Maytrees?
  6. What does the book's sparse landscape and living on the edge of a forceful sea say about our time here on Earth?
  7. How does the book's title reflect its overall theme of acceptance?
  8. The Maytrees has been hailed as a "meditation of love." How did this story make you feel about love?
  9. Deary transforms herself from a Spartan bohemian to a materialistic New England matron. What do you feel triggers this abrupt change in her?
  10. Does Toby misunderstand or take Lou's quietness for granted early in their relationship?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Harper Perennial. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Promise
    The Promise
    by Ann Weisgarber
    Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame, once wrote that "...all things ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Moon
    Black Moon
    by Kenneth Calhoun
    The popularity of book-turned-movie World War Z and television series The Walking Dead points to a ...
  • Book Jacket: Hyde
    Hyde
    by Daniel Levine
    In Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the story ends ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Sailor Twain
by Mark Siegel

Published Mar. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Steady Running of the Hour

The Steady Running of the Hour

"Exciting, emotionally engaging and amibtious. I loved it!" - Kate Mosse

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I T T O A Eye

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.