The Maytrees: Meditation on marriage, loss, redemption

My friend Carolyn gave me Annie Dillard's novel, "The Maytrees", a book, the book, I too would give a friend in the midst of her mature years.

I read it while on a short vacation to the high peaks of the Adirondacks, and their wildness connected me to the Dillard's refined sense of the natural world.

"From a white lake of fog opaque as paint, the tips of dunes, and only the tips of dunes, arose everywhere like sand peaks that began halfway up the sky. Dune tops protruded from a flat fog line evenly as atolls. She could see every stick and pock on their tops against dark blue sky. These sand peaks lacked nothing but connection to earth and a cause for being loose. They looked like a rendezvous of floating tents..."

If Dillard's writing were a gem, it would be a silver-grey pearl, luminous, mysterious, ethereal.

The book takes some living to read and understand; though a love story (of all sorts), it is also a mediation on friendship, fidelity, art and death. Two death scenes witness the mundane and divine aspects of the end of life.

The plot won't be ruined by telling you that Lou Maytree's husband leaves her, then makes his way back under extraordinary circumstances. While you may not have faced such loss, by the time you are 50, you will have explored forgiveness.

"... She was wary. Conceding that there might be a point- merely granting it as a long shot- might lead to a mess. Both time's back wall and front wall fell open. As a mire in which to wallow, it had housework beat all hollow."


Julianne said…
I have been wanting to read this along with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Thanks for sharing!
sallymandy said…
Thanks Duchesse. This is such a nicely written post, on a writer whose work has always kind of stunned and humbled me. I haven't read The Maytrees. I've read a few of Annie Dillard's other books, starting with Ticket for a Prayer Wheel when I was an impressionable teenager. I think you've captured her with your choice of what gem she would be. That's just lovely. Some day I'll read this book, too.

Forgiveness-of self and others--is a hot topic in my life today.

materfamilias said…
When I was younger, I assumed marital betrayal could never be forgiven, that to forgive infidelity meant compromising self-respect. Through the years, of course, watching and living, I've come to know that life and love and humanity are much more complicated than that. I'll be sure to put The Maytrees on my reading list.
Duchesse said…
Wish I could send everyone a copy; the Maytrees really stayed with me. The way the relationship contains, bends and resolves betrayal, all in Dillard's exquisite language, is remarkable.
Darla said…
I'm a Dillard fan and agree that The Maytrees was a great book with the power to stay with you. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the one Dillard book I've read over and over tho.


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