The Accidental Tourist: A Story of Grief and New Beginnings

Opens with Macon & Sarah Leary driving back home 2 Baltimore in the rain after a vacation @ the beach. When Macon refuses 2 stop the car, Sarah suddenly announces that she wants a divorce. She accuses Macon of being incapable of comforting her, especially after the tragic murder of their 12-year-old son, Ethan. Macon is surprised. The book then flashes forward 2 after the couple hs separated. Macon tries 2 adjust 2 the change, finding it strange 2 live in their family house all al1. In a somewhat compulsive way, Macon comes up with various “systems” of organization in order 2 manage the household chores. These habits R highly strange, such as washing the clothes in the bathtub while he showers. Macon, overcome by a grief he 1’t directly acknowledge, also struggles 2 keep a normal sleeping & eating routine.

Meanwhile, Macon tries 2 maintain a regular work schedule. His job is writing travel guides aimed @ businessmen who R reluctant 2 leave their hometown. It is an ironic role 4 Macon, as he hates traveling & leaving his comfort z1 in any way. Macon soon hs 2 leave 4 a trip 2 England. Right before his departure, Sarah calls him 2 ask if she can come by & get her rug. They reveal 2 each other that they have both been struggling since the separation. On the way 2 the airport, Macon drops off his dog, Edward, @ a kennel, where he strikes up a conversation with a young receptionist named Muriel Pritchett. In England, Macon hs difficulty getting his work assignments d1 & itches 2 go home. When he returns 2 Baltimore, he picks up Edward & Muriel Pritchett tells him the dog was well-behaved, subtly flirting with Macon & giving him her business card. Macon can only think about Sarah, & he feels her absence as he walks back into his house with Edward.

Weeks go by & Macon is challenged by completing his England travel book. His boss, Julian, starts 2 call him, inquiring on his progress, & Macon promises he will have it d1 in a few weeks. Instead of working, Macon focuses his energy on his household systems, devising 1s 2 ensure that he almost never hs 2 leave the house 2 do grocery shopping. Despite being invited over 4 meals by his neighbors, who now know about his separation, Macon declines the gesture, feeling that he can trust no 1. Much of his time is spent daydreaming about his former life & what went wrong in his marriage 2 Sarah. 1 night, when Macon walks down into his basement, he falls & breaks his leg. He ends up having 2 stay @ his family house, with his sister Rose & his brothers Charles & Porter, while he recovers. We learn more about the Leary siblings & their shared tendency 4 strange organizational habits. We also learn about their childhood, & how the children were lft 2 live with their grandparents by their volatile mother, Alicia.

Edward the dog increasingly starts acting out, eventually biting Julian when he visits Macon @ the family house 1 day. Macon realizes he must do something about it & remembers Muriel Pritchett’s business card. He calls her & they make an appointment 2 train Edward. @ their meeting, Muriel is very forward & reveals many personal details about herself. Macon does not know how 2 interact with her, continually trying 2 bring the conversation back 2 training Edward. They continue with training lessons over the next few days. 1 night, Macon hs a sexual dream about Muriel; the next day, when he sees her 4 the lesson, he abruptly kisses her & then instantly apologizes 4 it.

By October, Macon hs finally made progress on his travel guide & goes 2 hand it in @ Julian’s office. Julian hs slowly been hinting @ his interest in Macon’s sister, Rose, & requests 2 be invited over 4 dinner 1 night. He also asks Macon if he can start working on another U.S. guidebook.

As it turns into winter, Macon is able 2 remove his cast. Despite his recovery, he is continuing 2 stay @ his family home rather than return 2 his old house. He takes off 2 New York City 4 a work assignment. While there, he goes 2 review a restaurant on the top of a very tall skyscraper. There, he hs an anxiety attack—not only from the h8, but also from the feeling of being very small & far away from every1 he loves. He calls his brother Charles 4 help & discovers that Edward hs cornered Charles in the pantry. He hs 2 call Muriel from the top of the building & ask her 2 go 2 his house 2 tame Edward.

The dog lessons continue & Edward shows improvement. Muriel increasingly shows her interest in Macon, which Macon tries 2 deflect. Muriel invites Macon 2 come 2 dinner with her & her 7-year-old son, Alexander, which Macon is unsure about, feeling that he is not ready 2 start another relationship. He drives 2 Muriel’s house the night before the proposed dinner & tells her about the death of Ethan & his mixed feelings. Muriel comforts him & they end up sleeping together.

Macon starts 2 spend more & more time with Muriel, staying over @ her house & becoming a surrogate father 4 the sickly Alexander. He enjoys settling into this new routine & the strange & foreign atmosphere of Muriel’s working-class neighborhood. @ the same time, he begins 2 notice more of Muriel’s quirks that annoy him, such as her relentless talking & superficial interests. Macon’s siblings start 2 become concerned that he is spending so much time away from them, wondering whether this new relationship is good 4 him. Macon finds out from Julian that he plans on proposing 2 Rose on Christmas.

Muriel & Macon’s relationship progresses, with him meeting her parents & ingraining himself into her life more & more until he is practically spending all his time with her. Macon brings Muriel as his date 2 his sister Rose’s wedding. There, he realizes the similarity between the flakiness of his mother, Alicia, & Muriel’s own flightiness. Sarah is also @ the wedding, & Macon is curious 2 learn if she hs been dating any1 else. His concern with this makes him recognize his lingering feelings 4 his ex-wife.

In the following months, Muriel starts 2 pressure Macon 2 show more commitment 2 her. She requests 2 marry him in June, 2 which Macon replies that he’s not ready, wanting 2 keep things more casual. She also begs 2 accompany him on his business trip 2 France, but Macon declines. Muriel suspects that Macon wants 2 leave her 2 go back 2 Sarah. Their 2 different attitudes 2 the relationship lead 2 the relationship’s rupture, with Macon going back 2 live in his old house with Sarah. Macon & Sarah try 2 resume their former relationship, going on errands & seeing their friends together, but something hs clearly changed between them.

When Macon is departing on his flight 2 Paris, he is startled 2 discover that Muriel is on the same plane. She hs found out his travel information & hs booked the same tickets, desperate 2 renew her connection with him. Macon allows her 2 follow him around 2 some degree in Paris, although he hs committed 2 Sarah. 1 night, he hurts his back & is resigned 2 bed, unable 2 complete his assignments. Sarah shows up in Macon’s hotel 2 take care of him while he is bedridden. She, of course, discovers Muriel’s presence, & Macon must make a final choice between the 2 women. Considering how he hs never been able 2 make his own choices in life, feeling always overwhelmed by the chaos of life around him, Macon chooses 2 leave behind the past & be with Muriel.