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This review is from: The Beginner's Goodbye (Hardcover)
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I started reading Anne Tyler's books about 15 years ago when she was recommended by two of my favourite authors at the time, Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle. I fell in love with her understated, engaging style and quickly worked my way through her entire back-catalogue. Regretfully her more recent releases have not been amongst my favourites and I've occasionally re-read a few of the old classics to remind myself how good she could be. Thankfully, her latest novel, The Beginner's Goodbye, (actually at 198 pages I`m not sure if it's more of novella?) has restored my faith and in my opinion it's definitely a case of `small but perfectly formed`.
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. It's also an escape from the well-meaning friends and family who are rallying round with offers of food and social engagements and, inevitably, misguided matchmaking advice.
For me this was vintage Tyler, quirky and endearing with some beautifully observed characters and situations. Although it was a fairly quick read and it might not be frantic or exciting enough for some readers, I was completely absorbed in it and I'm so pleased that one of my favourite authors has produced such a little gem.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Jun 2012 11:13:44 BDT
M. Schofield says:
I agree that this is definitely a "classic" Anne Tyler novel, I read it in one sitting and loved it.
Posted on 28 Jul 2012 21:56:35 BDT
T. Hughes says:
Hi, thanks for this review. I read the Accidental Tourist recently via a book club and was immediately enamoured with Anne Tyler's writing. I'm trying to decide how to go about reading more of her books, what order etc. Do you have any suggestions? I'm a huge fan of John Irving myself and I know how important it is to read the books in a certain order while becoming acquainted with a writer. Any advice welcome. Thank you. Tracie.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2012 23:22:38 BDT
Hi Tracie, I don't think you have to read Anne Tyler's books in any order, but I'd definitely recommend starting with her earlier work. You've made a great start with The Accidental Tourist (my favourite) and I'd also highly recommend A Patchwork Planet and Ladder of Years. I'm jealous that you're going to be reading these for the first time :-)
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Nov 2012 11:37:23 GMT
T. Hughes says:
Thanks so much Denise. Sorry I'm only replying now. I read the Amateur Marriage which I really enjoyed. Going to try the two you recommend next. Tracie.
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