By Jennifer Reese
Updated June 08, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
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The Maytrees

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Each paragraph of Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees is a thing of beauty, meticulously crafted and vivid, whether expressing the loveliness of a seascape or a man’s inner turmoil. As a running narrative, though, it’s less successful. Toby Maytree and Lou Bigelow fall in love, marry, have a child, separate for exceedingly vague reasons, and improbably reconcile decades later, in old age. Like Marilynne Robinson, Dillard addresses big issues of forgiveness and grace, but handles them with less authority. Lou is impossibly angelic; her struggle for serenity is won so easily it’s both unconvincing and uninteresting. Instead, savor Dillard’s use of language. B+

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The Maytrees

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