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The Clock Winder [Kindle Edition]

Anne Tyler
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

'Her brilliance in capturing the ripples on the surface of family life gives her a claim to be the Jane Austen of our age' - Allison Pearson, Daily Mail

Having sacked her handyman, newly-widowed Mrs Emerson finds a replacement in Elizabeth, a lanky, awkward girl. The Emersons - there are seven grown-up children - have a reputation for craziness and Elizabeth finds herself drawn into their disorderly lives against her will. But in the end it is hard to tell whether she is a victim of the needy Emersons, or the de facto ruler of the family.


‘She’s changed my perception on life’ Anna Chancellor

‘One of my favourite authors ’ Liane Moriarty

‘She spins gold' Elizabeth Buchan

‘Anne Tyler has no peer’ Anita Shreve

‘My favourite writer, and the best line-and-length novelist in the world’ Nick Hornby

‘A masterly author’ Sebastian Faulks

‘Tyler is not merely good, she is wickedly good’ John Updike

‘I love Anne Tyler’ Anita Brookner

‘Her fiction has strength of vision, originality, freshness, unconquerable humour’ Eudora Welty

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Product Description


"Delicate, unpredictable and highly enjoyable" (Daily Telegraph)

"Tyler writes skilfully, with a detached air and a precise eye for detail" (New Statesman)

"She writes with virtuosity, confidence and perfect insight and compassion" (The Times)

"Anne Tyler is brilliant" (New York Times Book Review)

Book Description

'Her brilliance in capturing the ripples on the surface of family life gives her a claim to be the Jane Austen of our age' - Allison Pearson, Daily Mail

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1288 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (10 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007V0750A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #60,302 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and many other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America and The Beginner's Goodbye. In 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English' and in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime's achievement in books. Her most recent novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for both the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize 2015.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing is finer than Tyler at her best 1 Feb. 2005
By Dee-Dee
This is an author who could wring magic from a mud puddle. Her material is ordinary human relationships in all their ordinary dysfunctional tangle. This one has Elizabeth as the most reluctant of heroines, drawn into a family that is waging pointless war on itself. She is hailed by them as their only hope to bring order to chaos, and is somehow unable to escape their clutches. Elizabeth says to one of the sons of the house "You all present me with your problems and lay them at my feet in heaps!" They do. But those heaped problems are not the real drama of the book, it is the quieter emotions that matter. And it is Anne Tyler's genius that she can portray them with such precision that their softly insistent voices are heard above the clamour. A superb book.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
One of Anne Tyler's best novels, the story tells of an every-changing relationship between recently widowed Mrs Emerson (who spends her days winding the clocks) and her newly acquired gardener/handywoman, Elizabeth. Mrs Emerson's friendship with and dependency on Elizabeth is reminiscent of "Driving Miss Daisy", and from Ms Tyler's description of Elizabeth I couldn't help picturing her as Charlie Dimmock!
Mrs Emerson's family enter, leave, and inevitably change the relationship between employer and employee, bringing with them humour, sorrow and tragedy as their story unfolds.
As with all Ms Tyler's novels, do not expect a fairytale happy ending, but be assured the story leaves its characters with a genuine contentment; despite sacrifices and compromises made they show us a real-life happiness is attainable.
This version is all the easier to read if, like me, as you get older you find publishers are using smaller and smaller print!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not one of her best novels 18 Jun. 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An early novel of Anne Tyler (1972) and not, to my mind, in the same league as the more recent Digging to America, Back When We Were Grownups or The Accidental Tourist.

Anne Tyler write the kind of novel that could have come from the 19th century, the equivalent of a few families in a country village with essentially everyday happenings and a style of writing that is elegant but far from flamboyant.

The success of a novel of this kind depends on getting the plotting, the mis-en-scene and the characterisation right. Often she succeeds - I'd recommend strongly any of the novels I've mentioned above. This time out, I'd say her success was mixed - do the characters really add up, does the plotting make sense - it does have some unexpected turns - and somehow I think she should stick to Baltimore.

This is highly readable and enjoyable. But not one of her best novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An early work that does not disappoint 2 Sept. 2011
By hiljean VINE VOICE
I have read all but two of Anne Tyler's novels, from which you will deduce I am a big fan of hers. I started with the books she had written half-way through her career - The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, etc - and fell in love with this writer who has a gift for bringing her characters vividly to life, of using dialogue that sounds totally real and natural, and of recreating day-to-day situations that we all recognise with an unnerving eye for detail. She is, in my view, an exceptional writer.

However as with all writers, some novels are better than others and I have been disappointed in some of her early ones such as The Tin Can Tree and Searching for Caleb. This, however, is beautifully written, well plotted and well structured. I picked it up at a time when I knew I needed a book I could rely on to provide a satisfying and enjoyable read and it did not disappoint.

It is, perhaps, not quite up there with A Patchwork Planet, Saint Maybe, or Breathing Lessons, which I believe to be her best works, which is why it only gets four stars, but it is a delight nevertheless.

One very minor quibble, why do so many writers include characters whose names all begin with the same letter? In this book Mrs Emerson's children are called Mary, Melissa, Margaret and Matthew, and Timothy too with it's middle M. I find this confusing but not uncommon.

On my shelf I have the remaining two novels of hers that I haven't yet read . . . which I am keeping for the next time I need a really well-written and satisfying novel.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth is captivating. 1 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
Possibly my favourite Tyler. Elizabeth is infuriating and wonderful. The family of the "clock" is reminiscent of any family - everyone has their own quirks and foibles. The novel has a great twist and has moments of high drama. Romantic, humourous and vivid.
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The quote on the front cover of my copy of this book sums this story up perfectly:

"Her brilliance in capturing the ripples on the surface of family life gives her a claim to be the Jane Austen of our age." --Allison Pearson, Daily Mail

Anne Tyler is fantastic at giving glimpses into ordinary family life. The quirks and contradictions and dysfunction that exist in every family despite how hard we try to find them. A large part of the novel is shown from the perspective of Elizabeth, an outsider who is hired to be the family's handyman, but as she slowly becomes part of the family we begin to see the perspectives of other family members who are never entirely sure where they fit into the relationship between Elizabeth, the family matriarch. Timothy, the failing Medical student who both loves and hates the quirks that make Elizabeth who she is; Matthew, the quiet brother who is madly in love with Elizabeth and doesn't expect anything of her; Margaret, the one person who stays in touch with Elizabeth, in spite of her nervous breakdown; and in the end, it is Peter who concludes the story.

Of all the siblings (and there are seven of them) to conclude the story, I wasn't sure why the author initially chose Peter. But considering how little Peter had featured in the book prior to that point, it made sense that someone who was pretty much an outsider should show us our final glimpse of the Emerson family. I did feel a little confused at the end, mainly because the final scenes went by so quickly and I wasn't entirely sure what had happened in the years that had passed since the last chapter. For example, I couldn't figure out who Elizabeth had married, since she obviously had children. Andrew was holding her baby, but she still seemed close to Matthew.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear no more to read!
I just love Ann Tyler's writing None left to read This did not disappoint She manages to depict families of every sort brilliantly with well developed characters and wonderful... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Judith Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Enjoyable read
Published 5 months ago by BDoris
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as always
She's done it again! Wonderfully written. Cost me half a night's sleep - could not put it down. Quirky as all her novels. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Cas Evans
2.0 out of 5 stars I usually love Anne Tyler books but I found this one very ...
I usually love Anne Tyler books but I found this one very slow and rather depressing. I never really 'got' the characters and I certainly did not care about them. Read more
Published 10 months ago by LCH
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Very good
Published 10 months ago by Rita Doyle
3.0 out of 5 stars The Clock Winder is not up there with the best, in my opinion
I've read most of Anne Tyler's novels over the years. The Clock Winder is not up there with the best, in my opinion, The Amateur Marriage, Breathing Lessons. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Fay Farrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Such a reliable author
easy read, typical Anne Tyler.
Published 13 months ago by Maude1963
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Never read an Anne Tyler that I wouldn't recommend.
Published 15 months ago by Mr. B. R. Burge
3.0 out of 5 stars Hooks you in but leaves you wishing
I was quite frustrated with this book midpoint, as it didn't seem to be going anywhere and the characters are not easy to empathise with. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Lucy Connell
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit od a tear jurker.
Yet another Ann Tyler hit with me. A wonderful interesting read with lots of intriguing bits to keep you hooked.
Published 21 months ago by Tilly
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