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Annie Dillard's Tale of Bohemian Love by the Sea

Jul 28, 2007 (Weekend Edition Saturday)

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In Provincetown, Mass., at the tip of Cape Cod, locals have always lived life to their own bohemian beat.

For Lou Bigelow and her husband, Toby Maytree — the couple at the heart of Annie Dillard's new novel, The Maytrees — Provincetown is the perfect place to paint, write poetry and raise a family after World War II.

Their bohemianism fits in with the nonconformist way of life on the Cape, and their marriage thrives for decades until Toby breaks the family apart.

In her second novel, Dillard, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, uses her short, simple, poetic style to tell the quirky story of the Maytrees' fractured marriage. Toby runs off with a local free spirit named Deary for a 20-year affair, but Dillard focuses on acceptance and how Lou must ultimately accept far more than most wives would in a marriage.

Scott Simon spoke with Dillard about her unconventional characters and how she crafted their love story.

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