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The Maytrees: A Novel
by Annie Dillard

Published: 2007-06-01
Hardcover : 216 pages
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oby Maytree first sees Lou Bigelow on her bicycle in postwar Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her laughter and loveliness catch his breath. Maytree is a Provincetown native, an educated poet of thirty. As he courts Lou, just out of college, her stillness draws him. Hands-off, he hides his ...
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Introduction

oby Maytree first sees Lou Bigelow on her bicycle in postwar Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her laughter and loveliness catch his breath. Maytree is a Provincetown native, an educated poet of thirty. As he courts Lou, just out of college, her stillness draws him. Hands-off, he hides his serious wooing, and idly shows her his poems.

In spare, elegant prose, Dillard traces the Maytrees' decades of loving and longing. They live cheaply among the nonconformist artists and writers that the bare tip of Cape Cod attracts. When their son Petie appears, their innocent Bohemian friend Deary helps care for him. But years later it is Deary who causes the town to talk.

In this moving novel, Dillard intimately depicts willed bonds of loyalty, friendship, and abiding love. She presents nature's vastness and nearness. Warm and hopeful, The Maytrees is the surprising capstone of Dillard's original body of work.

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

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?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by dspangler5011 (see profile) 02/20/20

 
  "Usually someone in the club likes the book."by [email protected] (see profile) 09/20/09

No character development and uneventful is what decribes Maytrees for our bookclub. Why take someone back after he leaves for another? Lou lives her life waiting and never reaches self-actualization... (read more)

 
  "A love story about forgiveness"by dmc1230 (see profile) 08/21/08

How have I gone through life without reading Annie Dillard? This was my first experience with her and I loved this slim novel. It is the story of the Maytrees... Lou and Toby and their long relationship.... (read more)

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