- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (17 Jan. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099572230
- ISBN-13: 978-0099572237
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (212 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Beginner's Goodbye Paperback – 17 Jan 2013
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"A terrific writer... She's changed my perception on life'" (Anna Chancellor)
"Deeply rewarding novel about grief and hope, infused with gentle humour" (Sunday Times)
"A near flawless novel of love and loss ... exquisitely poignant but unsentimental" (Rosemary Goring Sunday Herald)
"She's a master storyteller and inventor of character" (Vanessa Berridge Daily Express)
"This novel's great achievement is to capture the tensions and subtleties of a married life cut short… I read it virtually in one sitting, but that's a fairly common experience with Anne Tyler books… I didn't want it to end. Which is also a fairly common Tyler thing" (Viv Groskop Independent on Sunday)
The international bestseller from Anne Tyler: a story about two ordinary people so intertwined they cannot be separated - even by death ...See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
When we meet our narrator Aaron Woolcott his wife Dorothy has recently died in a freak accident. I warmed to Aaron from the start and by the end of the book he was up there with my two favourite male Tyler characters - Macon from The Accidental Tourist and Barnaby Gaitlin from A Patchwork Planet. Always a bit of an outsider due to the deformed arm and leg he was left with after a childhood illness, Aaron has constantly had to battle against the patronage and condescension of others, as well as the mollycoddling inflicted by his over-protective mother and sister. When he meets Dorothy, a dour, practical woman who "never saw the point of socialising" something clicks between them and their marriage, if not exactly made in heaven, certainly seems to work for the two of them.
Dorothy's death when an oak tree falls on their sun porch leaves a gaping hole in Aaron's life (not to mention his roof), and when she starts appearing to him in random places it brings him a strange sort of comfort.Read more ›
In her usual way of imbibing her characters with distinctive traits, Tyler's protagonist, Aaron suffers from a disability brought on by a childhood illness that affects his gait, requiring a brace and a cane, which he has never quite gotten used to relying on, while Dorothy is fiercely independent, forthright, and an atypically "unnurturing" doctor. They are as mismatched as chalk and cheese, and Dorothy's reappearance forces Aaron to work through his grief to honestly confront the imperfections of their marriage, without the rose-tinted memories the bereaved tend to cherish.
Of course initially, he insists: "I liked to dwell on these shortcomings now. It wasn't only that I was wondering why they had ever annoyed me. I was hoping they would annoy me still, so that I could stop missing her", which casts these visitations in a romantic light. However, he acknowledges later: "Then why was our marriage so unhappy? / Because it was unhappy. I will say that now. Or it was difficult, at least. Out of sync. Uncoordinated. It seemed we just never quite got the hang of being a couple the way other people did. We should have taken lessons or something; that's how I felt.Read more ›
The book takes us slowly through the aftermath of Dorothy's death giving us glimpses of their relationship in Aaron's flashbacks as he tries to cope with life. His family, neighbours and acquaintances all rally round to support him in his bereavement, but he is stoical and, while attempting not to hurt them, rebuffs their help. Gradually his view of the past unravels and a resolution is reached.
The widow/widower receiving comfort from their dead partner has been covered before in films such as Truly, Madly, Deeply, but the emotional element has been pared down to the minimum in Aarons's aloof and reticent narration. Yet, thanks to Tyler's expert handling, we learn a lot about Aaron, much more than he thinks he is telling us.
The crits on the cover of this book call it a comedy and in the purely academic meaning of the word - any story in which the main characters manage to avert an impending disaster and have a happy ending, in other words the opposite of tragedy - it is. It is also not without humour but, I think, it is a profoundly serious book dealing with a very difficult subject and it does that beautifully without sounding any false notes. Although the anguish, grief and disassociation from life that the death of a lover causes are accurately and painfully expressed, the book is upbeat and life affirming. So, not a laugh a minute, but a true comedy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a quick and easy read despite the subject matter which could have been very heavy.
Anne Tyler has a light touch and has constructed an interestingly awkward main... Read more
This is a tight, well constructed short novel filled with a cast of quirky and recognisable characters that will chime with familiarity. Read morePublished 3 months ago by keen reader
A typically poignant Anne Tyler story about love, loss and coming to terms with ones feelings. A pleasing and surprising ending.Published 4 months ago by Gillian Watson
The people in Anne Tyler's books are so impossibly annoying but you end up having to forgive them and forgive yourself too!Published 5 months ago by F.A.
Really enjoyed this from beginning to end. Anne Tyler's characterisation is superb. If you are a fan of Anne Tyler you won't be disappointed by this little gem.Published 5 months ago by P. Wain
A tender tale of loss and bereavement that is beautifully written. This is about ordinary life but yet there is something beguiling in the way that Tyler describes her characters... Read morePublished 5 months ago by N. Idmessaoud
Great story. I don't always enjoy Anne Tyler's writing but this really struck a chord with me. I am taking it to book club next week.Published 5 months ago by Alyben