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Everyone starts out 'just ordinary'... and then they get worse !
on 22 November 2014
Anne Tyler has to be one of the most gifted novelists I've come across in my many years of reading. For me her greatest strength lies in creating what I think of as 'growth books' ... where, through the author's eyes, you watch seemingly ordinary people gradually become 3-dimensional. Then, as the play of events unfold even further, you find yourself wondering how you could initially have been so blind - for the same folk now seem more like modern day heroes and heroines. Ms. Tyler uses carefully crafted, quirky plots to show you how simple events can transform all of us into much more than we ever dreamed possible.
But to me this book seems more like an experiment she unwisely indulged in. Once again she starts off with her usual 'ordinary people' - only this time she decided to let them all slide downhill while we, the readers, are obliged to follow along dismally as their lives become ever more hopeless and 'Jonah-like' with each new chapter. There simply isn't a cheerful or uplifting moment in the entire book ! To my eyes, the experiment was a complete flop ... because there's just NO FUN in it, anywhere.
In my opinion, if you really want to experience the genius of Anne Tyler, do "NOT" start here. Try "A Patchwork Planet", or "Earthly Possessions", or "Saint Maybe", or "The Accidental Tourist". There are so many, much better books of hers to choose from - most being quite the opposite of this depressing tale .