WHAT IS IT about Anne Tyler? She has a following of loyal readers (myself included) big enough to be the envy of many supposed 'bestsellers' and at the same time she wins praise from serious writers for the sheer brilliance of her prose. Her chosen subject is not at first sight promising. She writes about ordinary people - one is tempted to say 'folk' - in Baltimore, living out their mundane lives, but her magic touch plunges us into their world pretty much straight away. We become totally absorbed in wondering what will happen when Pauline takes Alex a meatloaf recipe, or how Pagan is getting on at music camp or whether Lindy will ever reappear.
The Amateur Marriage opens in 1942, right after Pearl Harbor. Michael Anton, good-looking, but dour and cautious, runs a tiny grocer's in the Polish quarter of Baltimore. A small accident blows pretty, chirpy Pauline Barclay into the store and into his life. For perhaps the only time in his life