The Maytrees by Annie Dillard


Audiobook.  I was surprised at the poetic nature of this book; for the first third of the book, the idyllic, if unconventional lives of a family living in Provincetown is described.  Mr. Maytree is a poet and handyman and Mrs. Maytree lives the simple life.  And we hear about their unconventional friends.  Just as I began to wonder if this description could continue to be of interest, Petie the son breaks his leg, and in a presumably unrelated turn of events, Mr. Maytree goes off to Maine with Dearie (surely that’s not how her name is spelled, but that’s how I heard it), a great friend of Mrs. Maytree.  Dearie, who is a trained architect and is somewhat older than the Maytrees, is suddenly very ambitious and convinces Maytree to build houses.  Who needs all that room in a house, Maytree wonders.  Twenty years later, Dearie is dying of congestive heart failure and Maytree falls and breaks both arms.  So, in an interesting leap, he concludes the only place he can find help is with his former wife and the son he abandoned.  They take the two in lovingly and after Dearie dies, Maytree stays until he dies some years later.   It was a joy to hear, if mystifying.  The wonder of the beach where the Maytrees spend the summer months in a "shack," is lovingly described.  The virtues of the simple and quiet (silent, even) life are extolled.

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