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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Saint Maybe
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on 30 March 2012
Ian Bedlow, the Saint Maybe of the title, atones for his part in the death of his brother and sister-in-law by brining up the children who have been orphaned by the deaths.

As with other Anne Tyler novels, there is here a full measure of the interest of everyday life, focussed in this case on the brining up of children, in all its humour and its pathos and its idiosyncracies with scenes of family life spread over a 20 year time frame (humour and idiosyncracy here notably in the persons of the 'foreigners' who particularly enliven the retirement of Ian's father-in-law: apparently Anne Tyler is married to a foreigner. Though there's also a memorable scene in which a character refers to the Church of the Second Chance as the Church of the Second Rate).

I enjoyed reading this more than some of Anne Tyler's other novels (notably the Clock Winder) and less than some others (notably Digging to America and The Accidental Tourist). For me the question for each of her novels is how persuasive I've found the basic plot that gives rise to the episodes of everyday life - in this case, yes I can believe Ian Bedlow could play that part in the deaths, and yes he would want to atone, and just maybe this would come in large life-determining part by joining the Church of the Second Chance...
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on 27 December 2016
One of the least interesting books I have ever read. No character development, no commitment from writer towards any person, event, moral or religious issue. Can't understand good reviews.
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on 22 August 2017
I am a huge fan of Anne Tyler's work - and this is one of her very best. Her writing is compelling in its conviction of the lives of individuals within in generations of families. A lovely book.
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on 27 April 2017
One of her best
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 August 2008
Written in 1991 this is vintage Anne Tyler and one of my favourites from among her many novels. It's the story of the Bledoe family from Baltimore (where else?) and in particular their son Ian. Often in her books there are some really unexpected plot twists and in this one there is a really big bombshell really early on in the story which completely changes the perceived direction of the book. We see Ian and the family trying to come to terms with two tragedies, coping with guilt and finally picking up the pieces and realising that life must go on. This is all done through Anne Tyler's usual examination of the minutiae of daily family life and, despite some of the scenes being very emotional and involving young children, she handles it very well, without being too sentimental - although it will definitely have you both laughing and crying. In addition to the well-drawn characters in the family we are also introduced to some of Tyler's wonderful, eccentric minor characters both in the Church of the Second Chance and in the neighbourhood. The scope of Anne Tyler's books is always very narrow - usually family sagas in suburban Baltimore - but this narrow world is perfectly peopled and narrated and it's always a real pleasure to enter her world.
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on 11 May 2017
Very enjoyable books
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on 28 April 2013
I read this book when it was first published and I had forgotten how superbly written it was. It is full believable characters . I loved the odd and quirky Bedloe family and all of their friends and neighbours.
One of my favourite books by my favourite author
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2009
I've read most of Anne Tyler's novels and this remains one of my very favourites. The best books aren't the ones where you can't wait to turn the page but the ones, like this, where you want to linger over and savour every word. No wonder John Updike was a fan of hers, she writes so well.

What is exceptional about her, though, is that she is able to take the lives of "ordinary" people and show how extraordinary they are and bring her characters utterly to life on the page. In fact she shows that there is no such thing as an ordinary person, or an ordinary life. Above all her humanity shines through. She helps us see how important it is to accept others for what they are. Her "heroes" are always flawed but real, struggling like the rest of us to get through life and to remain hopeful.
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on 22 September 2009
Another totally absorbing and fascinating read from Anne Tyler's hand. It seems that in every one of her books I learn something about certain facets of life I didn't even know I wanted to know.... Such is Tyler's magic; you get drawn into her story and what you read really gets a life of its own. Every one of her books makes you sit up, you wonder, you ponder, you sigh, cry.... and my personal opinion is that ANNE TYLER is one of the absolutely very best writer I have EVER come across. I shall - little by little - get all her other books I haven't read yet. I am in the lucky position of not yet having read ALL her books and I am immensely looking forward to those treasures still waiting to be discovered!
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on 16 June 2014
Five stars for this gentle and unassuming novel that made a deep impression on me.
One of Anne Tyler's great strengths is her sympathetic portrayals of young men, often troubled, alienated or lost in some way. Barnaby in ‘Patchwork Planet’, Jesse in ‘Breathing Lessons’ and Ian Bedloe, in this novel, are all shown as failing or disaffected but strong enough, in the end, to overcome their problems. Very few female novelists are able to get inside the minds of young men and bring them to life so convincingly.
Writing about ‘Saint Maybe’, Anne Tyler said that she wanted to create a central character with a religious faith, even though she has none herself. She wanted to get inside their head. She does so very convincingly and it’s an interesting journey if you also have no religious belief. It's a gently humorous but touching portrait of an American family going though the years as children grow and parents age. It's absorbing and page-turning in its quiet way. I liked it very much and was sad when I got to the end, so happy was I in Anne Tyler's recreation of the Bedloe family, It was hard to day goodbye.
Her gentle novels show human beings as neither good nor bad but journeying through life as best they can. Muddling through, as we all do..
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