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4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Searching For Caleb
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on 3 August 2017
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on 9 April 2017
Very good book, thoroughly enjoyed it
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on 5 April 2017
Halfway into Ch 6 (out of 20 or p 110/309 pp), this reader is looking forward to copious amounts of enjoyment in the days ahead. Earlier read six of her novels, having started with her latest, then going back in time. “Searching for Caleb” was first published in 1975 when Anne Tyler was 34. Its title raises two, maybe four questions: who is Caleb; who is searching for him; and why did he leave and why is he a search object?
From the start, the searcher is identified as older brother Daniel Peck, pater familias, retired lawyer and judge, rather deaf, en route with his granddaughter Justine to check out another clue to Caleb’s possible whereabouts, whom he has not seen since 1912. What follows is a brilliantly-plotted family saga full of lawyers and strict rules about how to behave properly. It moves back and forth between generations, across time and space, largely ignoring intervening wars and major crises. The extended family of four generations live in four adjoining, purpose-built fireproof houses in a posh part of Baltimore.
Grandfather Daniel and granddaughter/fortune teller Justine are the driving force in this tale. How Justine became slowly aware of her talent and how she gradually developed it, is one of several intriguing storylines. Closed families have their rebels too, like Duncan, who from a young age sees himself as an inventor, but never completes anything. And Caleb of course, who simply disappeared...
Totally original, authentic and captivating with great characterisation of even minor characters like Sam Mayhew, the only married-in member of the Peck clan to ever serve in a war. Anne Tyler’s extremely careful research and rigorous working/writing practices produce works of great beauty. Highly recommended.
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on 20 October 2017
This is different to many other Anne Tyler books because it feels disjointed. We move forward and back in time exploring the lives of various members of the Peck family who struggle with the desire to maintain their social standing in changing times. This desire for stability and respectability is loathed by two members in succeding generations. Both flee the family and live chaotic lives subsequently.
There are some beautiful and moving vignettes: the description of life in 1920s New Orleans as lived by an iterant musician and the life of his great-neice as a travelling forthune teller, follwing in the wake of her terminally inscecure and restless husband, for example. There are many other passages in the lives of the family members which are moving and beautifully observed.
But, the whole doesn't hang together. It's like a patchwork quilt. The odd thing is I loved parts of the book more than any other of her novels and I love many of them and re-read them regularly.
If you are a fan of Anne Tyler, then give this a go. Perhaps she hasn't found her voice, her way as a writer, but parts are pure gold. Grandfather Peck says:
'I used to think that heaven was palatial…pearly gates and paved with gold. I hope they were wrong about that. I would prefer to find that heaven was a small town with a bandstand in the park and a great many trees, and I would know everyone in it and none of them would ever die or move away or get any older….'
Small town America is Tyler's forte and if she hasn't quite found it here, as she will do in later novels, this book is still wonderful.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2006
Another Anne Tyler family saga, this time an overview of the extended Peck family, from Baltimore, where else! The family history of various generations of Pecks is described, all are great characters of course. Then the focus shifts to the life of Justine, contrasting her modern life with the lives of her forebears, and the search for a lost family member, the titular Caleb.

I think this is right up there with the best of Anne Tyler's novels and the included detective story makes it something different from her other books. As usual there are some unexpected twists along the way.
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on 20 July 2007
I've just finished re-reading this book and once again, I think it's one of the saddest books I've ever read. Justine sacrifices everything for her husband including her parents, her extended family and even her daughter. Her grandfather dreams of finding Caleb but Anne Tyler makes him suffer. Caleb himself lives the most sorrowful of lives, and Duncan, the selfish husband to Justine can never be satisfied. Anne Tyler is unrelenting, just as life is for so many people, in allowing any of her characters to experience fulfilment - that's why she's my favourite writer.
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2009
Searching is the theme of this typical Anne Tyler story of a dysfunctional family searching not just for Great Uncle Caleb but for meaning in their own lives, for answers about family relationships, for happiness, for peace of mind. Bittersweet but satisfying.
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on 21 June 2015
The Peck family are like an island. They don't seem to let anyone in and they don't want to let any of their large family out. Their life is living together in the homes that they have built in leafy Roland Park. There have to be those who will get away. Caleb walks away one day, no one knows where to. Duncan is a rebel from childhood and sweet tempered, kind and tolerant Justine, his cousin, sacrifices everything for him. She and their grandfather, Caleb's now very elderley brother, will enjoy in their own ways, the searching for Caleb. Anne Tyler has created her usual mix of complex characters. I am not a die hard Tyler fan, but I have read most of her books over the years. This one I missed way back and hadn't realised that it was published in 1976. Everyone has their one or two Tyler favourites. This one wouldn't be up there with mine, but never the less, even though I prefer the ones with characters that I can relate to, I did enjoy the read. I would recommend it, but possibly readers who already know the authors style would enjoy it more.
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on 30 December 2014
perfect and quick delivery
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on 23 January 2015
I have to admit I only ca 40pages.I did not like the people and could not get into it.
That is rare for me to give up on a book, especially Anne Tyler
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