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4.2 out of 5 stars65
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 9 June 2000
This is a gentle, thought-provoking novel which stays with you after you have finished, in a dream-like way. Like many of the other reviewers here this was my first Anne Tyler novel, and I rushed and bought another one as soon as I had finished. It drew me in, and cut to the heart of the matter. To be able to lift the mundane into the remarkable is a talent which breathes life into everything. It was so realistic and although at times sad and even tragic, it made me look again at this amazing thing called ordinary life.
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on 20 June 2000
Yet again Anne Tyler delivers a great book. The characters she paints appear to be so strange that at first you think that no-one on earth like this could exist. But She gives them so much description that we start seeing bits of ourselves in them. The book I would recommend first time readers to start with is The Clock Winder - the stubborn old woman, the girl who never turns down an invitation and the two brothers who fall in love with her.
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on 14 May 1999
Anne Tyler is a wonderful writer, she manages to turn the mundane into the magical. 'Patchwork Planet' is up to her usual unputdownable standard and thoroughly enjoyable (although my current favourite is 'Breathing Lessons'). 'Patchwork Planet' is written from a young, somewhat immature, man's perspective. Like many of Tyler's stories the eccentric male figure is central, but Tyler doesn't really understand men and it is fascinating to watch how she goes awry. For example, the way Barnaby notices the details of other people's dress, and reads significance into the nuances of their behaviour seems to reflect Tyler rather than Barnaby. Whilst his fellow burglars are heading for their victims' videos, Barnaby is reading their diaries. In this respect, Tyler gets it wrong but she is such a great writer even her mistakes are enthralling. The novel's greatest triumph resides in its supporting cast. Especially the many elderly characters, many of whom have become widowed; and as the book's dedication is to her late husband it is easy to detect Tyler's immense interest in these people. She portrays them realistically as they come to terms with their failing bodies, but her compassion constantly shines through. The way she depicts the inner dignity of even the humblest people is very reminiscent of John Steinbeck's writing. 'Patchwork Planet' is a book to treasure.
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on 9 December 2013
This is a gentle book with one of my favourite Anne Tyler characters, 30 year old Barnaby Gaitlin, who works for Rent-a-Back, Inc., helping old people with moving furniture, running errands, and helping out wherever needed. The customers all trust Barnaby as he is reliable, patient, and easy going. The characterisation of the older people is particularly wonderful. At first it seems that Barnaby has not done much in life, he is divorced, he disappoints his daughter and mother, and his background is against him. But gradually you begin to see him in a different light. A lovely book and the ending is perfect.
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on 1 September 2014
I found this to be a rather odd book. I wanted to like it. I wanted to like Barnaby. But I didn't really understand him completely. If I were to summarize it in a few sentences, I would say that a man with emotional problems in his background starts on a journey to being whole again but continues to be burdened with his relationships with his birth family, mainly his parents. He manages to break free from them in one way, but then other aspects of life threaten to encroach on his freedom. Will he, once again, break free, and become his own man? The last few pages are quite suspenseful, reading almost like a mystery story.

I did find myself rooting for Barnaby. Tyler made me care about him despite the fact that he was a bit of an enigma. Since I am in my late sixties, I enjoyed the fact that Barnaby works for elderly people. A few years ago, maybe I wouldn't have been interested in such a large number of elderly characters. But now I can see the humor and the pathos in the geriatric generation. This book might raise more questions than it answers--it's one of those books that doesn't explain everything in black and white.

You'll probably have to answer your own questions and although you may, like me, root for Barnaby, you may not be terribly moved by the story. I didn't laugh or cry. I smiled a bit. I felt pity for Barnaby. It's a story that explores the human condition. At times you might want to slap some of the people, maybe even Barnaby. My answer to the question, "Is Barnaby an ordinary man?" would be "No, he was a little off kilter, but he's on his way to a more authentic life." I know--it sounds cliche--but I'm at a loss as to how to put it any other way. I'd say that if you're looking for great excitement or thrilling romance, look elsewhere, but if you want to read a rather quirky story about human beings, give this one a try.

By the way, I can see that amazon.com-UK is separate from amazon.com in the US. I hate it that you can't click on and see all my reviews. It looks as though I've written only one. And I do love British authors--James Herriot is a favorite and also Virginia Ironside. So if you want to read more of my reviews, you must access the other amazon.com
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on 17 May 2015
Not my favourite Anne Tyler but nevertheless insightful, entertaining and completely engaging. She must be one of the finest living writers in English, yet is very rarely mentioned in critical reviews. Maybe I'm reading the wrong reviews! She can do no wrong for me.
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on 20 August 2002
This was my first Anne Tyler, but I was soon hooked. Her characters are attractive, but they all have flaws, which makes them real. This book has the best description of what it is like to be old that I have ever read.
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on 1 August 2013
I really enjoyed this book,a new author to me(found in the library where we were staying on holiday,-thanks Caroline!)and now a favourite.It's something a bit different and oh how I identify with some feelings and situations in the book! I'm sure other readers will too.The book holds your attention from the first page and you are left satisfied on the last.A well connected mix of human emotions,that many of us will connect with,entwined in an interesting story,a thread of humour runs throughout and it's a lovely book that stays gently in the memory.
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on 14 June 1999
I really enjoyed this book. I read it during a busy time in my life and I was always making time to read it in a hectic schedule....this must show quality. As always, Anne Tyler hits the mark with a slightly odd yet fully believable central character who takes you through the story with layer upon layer of intrigue, a range of characters all equally unusual and affable and a neat ending.
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Another little gem from Anne Tyler. Her books never disappoint - she seems to create such lovely quirky characters and some really interesting and original story lines.

Barnaby is nearing his thirtieth birthday and is (let's face it) a bit of a "slacker". He has missed out on higher education and has instead moved from a delinquent adolescence to a job working as a helper for old people - moving furniture, carrying heavy loads, clearing attics and basements etc. He is divorced from Natalie and has a cool and rather forced relationship with his daughter. His mother is controlling and demanding - and very disappointed that Barnaby has not turned out better. Although there is much of his life that he finds unsatisfactory he seems to really love his job and is very good at it. His clients all like him because he is so patient and reliable and he gets on well with his colleagues.

He meets Sophia and begins to fall in love with her. She seems to be the ideal partner - so will it be "happy ever after" or will fate step in?

A lovely read.

(I don't want to be too picky but if this story was set in UK then Barnaby with his police record would never be allowed to work in the homes of the elderly!)
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