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 by Annie Dillard X
The Maytrees by Annie Dillard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2007, 216 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2008, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

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?
Free Book Club Report

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Last Ballad
    by Wiley Cash
    A hundred years ago or so, farming land west of Charlotte, North Carolina was given over to giant ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Graybar Hotel
    by Curtis Dawkins
    We – those of us on the outside – are lucky. So very lucky. We get to experience life &#...
  • Book Jacket: We Own the Sky
    We Own the Sky
    by Luke Allnutt
    Rob and Anna Coates have an idyllic life together; they have successful careers, love each other ...
  • Book Jacket: Some Trick
    Some Trick
    by Helen DeWitt
    In this erudite collection of 13 stories, Helen DeWitt explores the theme of stymied creativity, ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

A nuanced portrait of war, and of three women haunted by the past and the secrets they hold.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Giveaway!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi
by Neel Patel

Patel's stories offer a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

M T G Before I S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.