Annie Dillard's Tale of Bohemian Love by the Sea The love-story-by-the-sea follows a free-spirited couple living happily on Cape Cod after World War II — until an affair splits them apart. In her simple, poetic prose, Dillard depicts the abiding love between two unconventional people, and how they survive life's unexpected turns.

Annie Dillard's Tale of Bohemian Love by the Sea

Annie Dillard's Tale of Bohemian Love by the Sea

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Annie Dillard's new novel was once 1,200 pages, but she shortened it to just 216 by focusing solely on the central love story. Phyllis Rose hide caption

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Phyllis Rose

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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The Maytrees
By Annie Dillard

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The Maytrees
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Annie Dillard

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