Toby Maytree first sees Lou Bigelow on her bicycle in postwar Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her laughter and loveliness catch his breath. Maytree is a Provincetown native, an educated poet of thirty. As he courts Lou, just out of college, her stillness draws him. Hands-off, he hides his serious wooing, and idly shows her his poems.
In spare, elegant prose, Dillard traces the Maytrees' decades of loving and longing. They live cheaply among the nonconformist artists and writers that the bare tip of Cape Cod attracts. Lou takes up painting. When their son Petie appears, their innocent Bohemian friend Deary helps care for him. But years later it is Deary who causes the town to talk.
In this moving novel, Dillard intimately depicts nature's vastness and nearness. She presents willed bonds of loyalty, friendship, and abiding love. Warm and hopeful, The Maytrees is the surprising capstone of Annie Dillard's original body of work.
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. He thought he recognized her flexible figure. Because everyone shows up in Provincetown sooner or later, he had taken her at first for Ingrid Bergman until his friend Cornelius straightened him out.
He introduced himself. You're Lou Bigelow, aren't you? She nodded. They shook hands and hers felt hot under sand like a sugar doughnut. Under her high brows she eyed him straight on and straight across. She had gone to girls' schools, he recalled later. Those girls looked straight at you. Her wide eyes, apertures opening, seemed preposterously to tell him, I and these my arms are for you. I know, he thought back at the stranger, ...
.... If this all sounds too serious for you, fear not, although there are no laugh out loud moments in this slim novel, there are many moments of wry humor and subtle ironies. In many ways, it is the perfect beach read - curl up on a sun-warmed dune and read a few pages and then lie back and contemplate the wonders of the world around you and how good it is to be alive!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (897 words).
Annie Dillard has written
eleven books, including the
memoir of her parents, An
American Childhood; the
Northwest pioneer epic The
Living; and the nonfiction
narrative Pilgrim at Tinker
Creek. A gregarious recluse,
she is a member of the American
Academy of Arts and Letters.
She was born in April 1945 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Best known for her narrative nonfiction, she has also published poetry, essays, literary criticism, autobiography and fiction. She is married to the ...
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