This is the 1985 Anne Tyler novel which became the movie starring Kathleen Turner, William Hurt, and Geena Davis who won an Oscar for her role.
The novel begins with a benighted vacation where the married Sarah and Macon are quickly realizing (or Sarah is) that the marriage is dying. We learn before long that their son, twelve year old Ethan, died more than a year before (shockingly from murder), and they can’t hold on any more. We learn that Macon is a creature of habit and witholding. He’s ultimately a nice and kind man, but he struggles to open up even in the slightest to those around him. Only his son seemed to get this from him.
So they split up and Macon falls into a depraved, sad, and otherwise survival-mode. Macon is a travel writer (“The Accidental Tourist”) and in his lowered state, he still has a make a trip to England. In a pinch, he leaves his (misbehaving) dog with a vet’s office, and the dog trainer there, one Muriel Pritchard, seems instantly attracted to Macon. He’s in no state.
But it goes from there. We meet Macon’s eclectic siblings, he has to spend time figuring out his marriage, and he has to decide whether or not to let Muriel in. This is a quirky Anne Tyler novel about quirk people in Baltimore with their quirky sadnesses and troubles. It’s perfectly nice and pleasant, and has a completely weird vernacular to it, which I find true of every Anne Tyler novel.