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1. Noah's Compass
2. Ladder of Years: A Novel
3. If Morning Ever Comes: A Novel
4. Back When We Were Grownups
5. The Amateur Marriage: A Novel
6. A Patchwork Planet (Ballantine
7. Digging to America: A Novel
8. Breathing Lessons: A Novel
9. Digging to America
10. Earthly Possessions
11. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
12. The Accidental Tourist: A Novel
13. Morgan's Passing
14. The Clock Winder (Arena Books)
15. Best of the South: From Ten Years
16. Saint Maybe
17. Timothy Tugbottom Says No!
18. Anne Tyler: A New Collection:Three
19. Moving On: The Heroines of Shirley
20. Noah s Compass

1. Noah's Compass
by Anne Tyler
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2010-01-05)
list price: US$25.95 -- used & new: US$9.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307272400
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
From the incomparable Anne Tyler, a wise, gently humorous, and deeply compassionate novel about a schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.

Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn’t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new, spare, and efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.

His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is—well, something quite different.

We all know a Liam. In fact, there may be a little of Liam in each of us. Which is why Anne Tyler’s lovely novel resonates so deeply. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (111)

4-0 out of 5 stars Man wakes up briefly
Liam is sleepwalking through life.He has a rude awakening, becomes aware of the power of romantic love, but cannot resist the power of past family troubles and the fact of his shrinking future.

5-0 out of 5 stars Holly
This is poignant and funny story about a man trying to adjust to his senior years and also to connect with his family members when everyone has issues.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Observer
I don't think I have ever seen such divergent reviews on a popular book.Noah's Compass is a quiet story about a sixty year old man, who, like Noah, needs no compass because he is going nowhere. At this late date I won't retell the story.In this case the tale is not the "thing"; it is in the telling.Liam, the protagonist, is an unsuccessful philosopher, not sure how one determines success in the field of philosophy.He goes from studying, to teaching at a prestigious private school, to teaching history in an elementary school.This, until he was "surplused" despite longevity in the job. He is a widower, divorced, estranged from his 3 daughters, and his sister. He is a stoical man.

The writing is unobtrusive, and smooth.It is a beautifully written book.When you close the book you feel you know the people.You sat in the old kitchen and visited Eunice's living room.I think that one either "gets" this book, is moved by it, or, isn't. I loved the book and the people and was pleased with the ending.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Love Anne Tyler!
If she called up right now and asked to come stay in my guest room, I would not hesitate to say a resounding, "Yes!"
I wouldn't feel I had to clean, cook, buy new sheets or rearrange my schedule.Instead, I would relax, knowing that she would see all my flaws as lovable quirks and all my bad tempered moments as evidence of my humanity. She should be required reading for all of us so that we could see one another with greater understanding and tolerance.

Self-improvement aside, her books are just plain fun to read. Here's a pre-school group at nap time: "They conked out at once, exhausted from the passions of the morning." That's the sort of Tylerism that quickly becomes a household phrase in our family.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Misstep
Anne Tyler has been writing beautifully observed, carefully detailed novels about the people of Baltimore for over 25 years.I have read and loved most of them.That affection makes the news that her latest is a disappointment all the more crushing.Her descriptions are as sharp as ever, but the wholly unconvincing plot, which centers around an unbelievable attack as catalyst for a life-change in a 60-year-old man and the completely unlikely romance that life-change causes."Unbelievable" and "unlikely" can be positive, but unfortunately in this case they just mean what they say they mean.It feels like leftover characters from her previous novels are sleepwalking through this tiny tale and although it has moments of the clarity and insight I've come to expect from her for over two decades, they are only moments.Sad, sad news indeed. ... Read more

2. Ladder of Years: A Novel
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 352 Pages (1996-03-26)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$0.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449910571
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
BALTIMORE WOMAN DISAPPEARS DURING FAMILY VACATION, declares the headline. Forty-year-old Delia Grinstead is last seen strolling down the Delaware shore, wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and carrying a beach tote with five hundred dollars tucked inside. To her husband and three almost-grown children, she has vanished without trace or reason. But for Delia, who feels like a tiny gnat buzzing around her family's edges, "walking away from it all" is not a premeditated act, but an impulse that will lead her into a new, exciting, and unimagined life . . . .
"TYLER DETAILS DELIA'S ADVENTURE WITH GREAT SKILL . . . As so often in her earlier fiction--Celestial Navigation, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, and her nine other novels--[she] creates distinct characters caught in poignantly funny situations. . . .Tyler writes with a clarity that makes the commonplace seem fresh and the pathetic touching."
--The New York Times
"UTTERLY COMPELLING. . .WONDERFULLY SATISFYING. . .Ladder of Years is virtually flawless."
--Chicago Tribune
"A 'PAGE-TURNER' IN THE BEST SENSE . . . One wants to lightly caress the pages of the story because one cares for Ms. Tyler's touchingly flawed characters. . . . Both madcap and genteel, Anne Tyler knows as well as anyone that 'human beings lead many lives.' Casually, delightfully, Ladder of Years will tell you just how we humans manage this trick."
--The Baltimore Sun
... Read more

Customer Reviews (206)

5-0 out of 5 stars Gets even better with age
I studied Anne Tyler's novels as I learned to write because she is so talented at creating believable characters and conflict. Ladder of Years is one of my favorites. This story particularly appealed to me even more as I reached the age of her protagonist, the age of being a mother with teenage children. Life sometimes gets into a boring rut, and teenagers often act like they don't need their mother, but running away is not the answer. Home is where the heart is. Great book.
Rachel's Contrition

2-0 out of 5 stars boring
I found this book to be long, unexciting, boring at times, I only finished it because I bought it also in hopes it would get better

1-0 out of 5 stars Thumbs DOWN!!!
Unfortunately, Ladder of Years was a complete bomb! The main protagonist, Delia, came across as a dolt. Her husband was nebbish, and the plot was absolutely flat from beginning to end. In too many instances, the author left you hanging. Some examples include: 1. what happened to Adrian. He was part of the story in the very beginning, and then poof! 2. There was no closure with none of Delia's children. Did Carroll graduate? How did Susie and Driscoll end up? 3.Even though Noah and Joel phoned in the end, the author didn't address what happened with them either. Did Delia explain whether or not she'd come back? 4. What about Nat and Binky? Just a VERY bad story all the way around.

4-0 out of 5 stars the invisible wife
Delia went straight from her father's arms to her husband's at 18 and even continued to live in the same house.Now at 41, on vacation with her extended family, she starts walking on the beach and then just keeps on walking to ... wherever.She eventually lands in the small town of Bay Borough, wearing a swimsuit and robe, with $500 and little else.It's unclear to both Delia and the reader why she feels the need to abandon her old life, but one obvious reason is that she wants to start over from scratch, making her own way, without being propped up by her men.Her new friends in Bay Borough assume that she's escaping a husband who beats her, but that is definitely not the case.She has a grown daughter, a son in college, and a 15-year-old son.She cries herself to sleep at night, but, again, whether the tears are the result of guilt or loneliness or what is a mystery.The biggest clue lies in the newspaper article about her disappearance.Apparently, her family members cannot describe her physical characteristics, much less what she was wearing when last seen.There's a disconnect somewhere.Delia realizes that her new life in Bay Borough is temporary, but she's not sure how temporary.I would recommend an anti-depressant or a shrink, but Anne Tyler is content to let her characters wander around in their heads for a while.

5-0 out of 5 stars Every Mother's Dirty Little Secret
I first read Ladder of Years when I was a young mother in my thirties.I loved the book but didn't quite get it.I felt a little upset with the main character, Delia, for taking off and leaving her family while on vacation.Fast-forward 10+ years and I read the book again, (Yes, it is that good) and this time, after the first few chapters, I'm begging Delia to walk away from her family. I totally get it. Anne Tyler reveals every wife and mother's dirty little secret.Oh, how we would all love to take a walk away from what seems like an ungrateful (one reviewer described them as acrimonious), self-centered family and just keep on walking! Even though we might never actually do it, the percentage of women who have had that fantasy has got to be in the top percentages.

But Tyler doesn't stop there.We are slowly and cleverly getting to know Delia.She is NOT a cold-hearted, closed-off person. Even though she has a new way of dressing, a new job, and a new residence, she still cries herself to sleep every night.It's clear she is desperate for her family to reach out to her and tell her that they need her, but that message is not forthcoming.Delia copes the only way she knows how by getting up everyday and following the routine she has established for herself.Inevitably, Delia meets and forms relationships in the little town where she settles.She even tires of her first job and searches for another.Just as her life may take an irreversible turn, she is summoned back home for the wedding of her daughter.Tyler's portrayal of events when Delia returns home is nothing short of brilliant.

Some feel the ending is lacking in answers.I thought so, too, at first glance but on second thought (and this is the kind of book you have lots of second thoughts about), the ending is perfectly fitting and the answers have been revealed along the way. ... Read more

3. If Morning Ever Comes: A Novel
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 272 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$6.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449911780
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A touchingly funny tale from the Pultizer Prize-winning author of Saint Maybe. Ben Joe Hawkes comes from a large, cheerful family of women. But when one of his sisters takes her baby and leaves her husband, everything--including his perceptions of the past--changes. "Phenomenal".--The New York Times. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

1-0 out of 5 stars I thought I'd die of boredom!
I hope the reviewer who said that Anne Tyler diavowed this book was right - it was a real snoozer!The characters were shallow, two-dimensional at best, and the pace was atrociously slow.I had to force myself to finish it, so I could give it a fair chance while discussing it at my book club meeting.Surely, even in the South in the era in which this was set, people had some feelings, some purpose in life, some rational thought processes that guided their lives.These characters seemed to have none of these.From Ben Joe (where was he from the time he finished college to the start of law school?) to his vacuous sisters, no character stood out as definable in my eyes.And how was it that Shelley could so easily go from one love to another, agreeing to marry someone she hadn't seen in years, and who proposed so hastily and half-heartedly?I wanted to change the name of this book to: "If the End of This Book Ever comes, I'll Be Happy."

3-0 out of 5 stars Quiet drama
I love Tyler's work and never miss one.This is my least favorite.I found it a meandering story about a confused, sad young man.
When I finished my copy and took it to the local library (I give all my books to them) they were delighted - said they had a long list of people waiting for it.I think most readers will have a higher opinion.

2-0 out of 5 stars IF Morning ever Comes, Anne Tyler
This must have been an earlier book of the author.The characters had little personality which
is not like her other novels.Really dull reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars if graduation ever comes
Ben Joe is a law student at Columbia but misses his six sisters back in North Carolina and seems convinced that they can't manage without him.Bored with his studies, he makes an impromptu trip home.All is well there, except that the oldest sister, Joanne has left her husband back in Kansas and come back home with her toddler daughter.Ben Joe's sudden presence is taken in stride, almost as though he's never left, and once again he realizes that being back is not as gratifying as he had imagined.For solace, he turns to his high school girlfriend Shelley, who has been orphaned by a car accident but is much more upbeat than Ben Joe.She's obviously still carrying a torch for Ben Joe but hoping to marry her current boyfriend, John Horner, whom Ben Joe keeps referring to as Jack Horner of nursery rhyme fame.This is vintage Anne Tyler humor with the usual unusual family members and no tragedy to speak of.Ben Joe's mother hen tendencies may stem from the fact that his father, a doctor, abandoned the family for another woman in town, with whom he sired a child.The essence of the book, though, is in the details.One of my favorite scenes in the book is that of Ben Joe's train trip home, where he meets an old man on his way to a retirement home and an African-American family who admire his father.This encounter is especially intriguing, given that this book was originally published in 1964.I also loved the scene where Ben Joe appears unannounced at Shelley's, and her hair is in curlers.And there's a brief anecdote about the misunderstanding of a boat's name as Saga City rather than Sagacity.In some ways this book reminded me of The Graduate, without Mrs. Robinson.

1-0 out of 5 stars Blah.
I like Anne Tyler, this book was a huge disappointment. It was written over 40 years ago and it seemed like it. Not sure what the point of the plot was. Rambling story with flaky characters, but it won't deter me from reading other Anne Tyler books though. ... Read more

4. Back When We Were Grownups
by Anne Tyler
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2004-10-26)
list price: US$7.50 -- used & new: US$3.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345477243
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person." So Anne Tyler opens this irresistible new novel.

The woman is Rebecca Davitch, a fifty-three-year-old grandmother. Is she an impostor in her own life? she asks herself. Is it indeed her own life? Or is it someone else’s?

On the surface, Beck, as she is known to the Davitch clan, is outgoing, joyous, a natural celebrator. Giving parties is, after all, her vocation—something she slipped into even before finishing college, when Joe Davitch spotted her at an engagement party in his family’s crumbling nineteenth-century Baltimore row house, where giving parties was the family business. What caught his fancy was that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon this large-spirited older man, a divorcé with three little girls, swept her into his orbit, and before she knew it she was embracing his extended family plus a child of their own, and hosting endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of The Open Arms.

Now, some thirty years later, after presiding over a disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is caught un-awares by the question of who she really is. How she answers it—how she tries to recover her girlhood self, that dignified grownup she had once been—is the story told in this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.

As always with Anne Tyler’s novels, once we enter her world it is hard to leave. But in Back When We Were Grownups she so sharpens our perceptions and awakens so many untapped feelings that we come away not only refreshed and delighted, but also infinitely wiser.

From the Hardcover edition.Amazon.com Review
The first sentence of Anne Tyler's 15th novel sounds like something out ofa fairy tale: "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she hadturned into the wrong person." Alas, this discovery has less to do withmagic than with a late-middle-age crisis, which is visited upon RebeccaDavitch in the opening pages of Back When We Were Grownups. At 53,this perpetually agreeable widow is "wide and soft and dimpled, with twoshort wings of dry, fair hair flaring almost horizontally from a centerpart." Given her role as the matriarch of a large family--and theproprietress of a party-and-catering concern, the Open Arms--Rebecca isboth personally and professionally inclined toward jollity. But at anengagement bash for one of her multiple stepdaughters, she finds herselfquestioning everything about her life: "How on earth did I get like this?How? How did I ever become this person who's not really me?"

She spends the rest of the novel attempting to answer these questions--andtrying to resurrect her older, extinguished self. Should she take up theresearch she began back in college on Robert E. Lee's motivation forjoining the Confederacy? More to the point, should she take up with hercollege sweetheart, who's now divorced and living within easy strikingrange? None of these quick fixes pans out exactly as Rebecca imagines. Whatshe emerges with is a kind of radiant resignation, best expressed by100-year-old Poppy on his birthday: "There is no true life. Yourtrue life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be." A tautology,perhaps, but Tyler's delicate, densely populated novel makes it stick.

Yes, Poppy. There are also characters named NoNo, Biddy, and Min Foo--thesort of saccharine roll call that might send many a reader scampering inthe opposite direction. But Tyler knows exactly how to mingle the sweetwith the sour, and in Back When We Were Grownups she manages thisbalancing act like the old pro she is. Even the familiar backdrop--shabby-genteel Baltimore, which resembles a virtual game preserve ofTylerian eccentrics--seems freshly observed. Can any human being reallyresist this novel? It is, to quote Rebecca, "a report on what it was liketo be alive," and an appealingly accurate one to boot. --James Marcus ... Read more

Customer Reviews (270)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mid-life lamenting
The book was long on parties and families dropping in and out.It was tiresome but evidently not for Rebecca.She came to the conclusion at the end that all in all it was fun and joyous.She embraced her life for what it is now after finding herself contacting the old boyfriend that she'd dumped long ago. He just wasn't for her and that's why she left him years prior and met and married someone else in 2 weeks.Her mother is a nice old sourpuss and she's an only child.She married Joe lickety split because their family had pizzazz and excitement.But she lost some sight of that and now years later she wonders "what if".....but she finds out that the life you lead is indeed yours and became you sometime down the road.She needn't look any further, she is her life and will evidently make a joyous peace with it. Besides the mid-life issues dogging Rebecca, the book also deals with family responsibility, loyalty and those familial ties that bring us connection and love.

5-0 out of 5 stars Have You Ever Wondered What Your Life Could Have Been Like?
Rebecca, known as Beck to the Davitch clan, made a sudden decision back in her college days to breakup with her studious boyfriend, Will Allenby, for a whirlwind courtship with the older Joe Davitch, an exciting grownup whose wife had left him with three small daughters. However Joe died six years into their marriage, leaving her with three stepdaughters and one of her own, all in a house constantly in need of repair. Plus, Rebecca's ninety-nine year old uncle-in-law, who lives on the top floor, is obsessed with his upcoming 100th birthday party and Rebecca's and Joe's daughter is just about to give birth to her third child from her third marriage.

Now fifty-four years old, Rebecca looks back over her life with questions and self-doubts. What would her life have been like if she'd married Will? Her reflections become sort of a midlife meditation, an obsession and her family doesn't even seem to notice. Casting her mind back to her college days, she decides to look up Will. However, when she meets him, she finds that he has turned into a prematurely old fussbudget without any social graces whatsoever.

What comes next, I can't tell here. Howeverm I will say that you will enjoy going where Anne Tyler will take you in this wonderful story. She is a master storyteller who writes with a style and grace that is so beautiful it almost makes you want to cry.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lost and Found
Tyler has written a beautiful novel about a woman who regrets her choice in life, and in searching out her past in order to change it, finds out why she made the choice she did in the first place. This is a lovely novel about families, with the wonderful annoyance and joy each person adds to the mix. The book prompts its readers to some positive introspection on life choices and families. Definitely a great summer read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Triumphant and Moving Story
"Back When We Were Grown Ups" is my first Anne Tyler book.I received it as a gift from my sister and I immediately hated the cover.However, I opened up the book and was drawn into the character of Rebecca almost immediately.She is such a well-crafted creation. She is in her mid fifties, a widow for the past 30 years and she feels at odds against who she was long ago, and who she has become.She feels like a shadow of her former self.She feels unimportant, like a cornerstone in the family- yet a stone nonetheless.

In the beginning, the names of the children were a little off-putting (Jeep, Min Foo, Patch, Troy, NoNo, Biddy, etc) but by the end of the story, I felt like I knew them and loved them anyway.Biddy is an emotional wreck of a daughter, but when needed she reacts the way that is expected.Patch is just a fight waiting to happen, but she has such passion.NoNo is meek and quiet, but once put upon, she turns into a blindly foolish tyrant.Min Foo is a free spirit, with three children by three different men and different personalities for each former husband.But, in the end, all four daughters are oblivious to the quesion on Rebecca's forehead.They are so caught up in their own world's, so used to Rebecca "being there", that when she starts to question her existence, they don't even notice.

Rebecca contacts her old boyfriend from high school, Will, who meant so much to her back then, but whom she left in order to run away with a new guy nearly 13 years her senior, who already had 3 children.She was with Will (yet on a schedule of not being engaged) for years, but when she met her husband, Joe, she left Will and married Joe (and his boisterous family) within a few months.Now, that Joe is deceased since she was 26, she phones Will in a pit of nervousness and they meet again.Did she make the right decision to leave Will for Joe in such a rush?Do they have a chance of reconciling now that Joe is gone?

And what of this loud, hot tempered, yet loving family that she has been adopted into?Poppy (her late husband's elderly uncle) is endearing.The warmth that she shows when communicating with him, even though he has a hard time remembering anything and tends to repeat himself a lot, is so sweet.

What stopped me from giving this five stars?Rebecca's relationship with Joe's junior brother, Zeb.I was frustrated.I wanted to read more about those two.

Even though she is in her 50s, Rebecca finds that she still has much to learn.As we all do.

"Back When..." was a wonderful book.It was almost lyrical.It has it's funny moments, it's saddening moments, and I breezed through it in only a few days (I've been in a reading slump for the past few months and this book dragged me out)It is lovely.My sister has not yet read this one, and I plan on sending it back to her so that she can see what she mistakenly gave away!

Great novel.

3-0 out of 5 stars Underwhelming
The book was well written but the story was a little underwhelming.The characters were interesting, but not very deep (except for the main character, who was very well portrayed).I must reveal that I am male, and the story may have been better appreciated and targeted to the female audience. ... Read more

5. The Amateur Marriage: A Novel
by Anne Tyler
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-01-31)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$2.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345472454
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage—and its consequences, spanning three generations.

They seemed like the perfect couple—young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.

Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable.

From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counterculture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayered apparel of later years, Anne Tyler captures the evocative nuances of everyday life during these decades with such telling precision that every page brings smiles of recognition. Throughout, as each of the competing voices bears witness, we are drawn ever more fully into the complex entanglements of family life in this wise, embracing, and deeply perceptive novel.

From the Hardcover edition.Amazon.com Review
Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage is not so much a novel as areally long argument. Michael is a good boy from a Polish neighborhoodin Baltimore; Pauline is a harum-scarum, bright-cheeked girl who blowsinto Michael's family's grocery store at the outset of World WarII. She appears with a bloodied brow, supported by a gaggle ofgirlfriends. Michael patches her up, and neither of them are ever thesame. Well, not the same as they were before, but pretty much the sameas everyone else. After the war, they live over the shop withMichael's mother till they've saved enough to move to thesuburbs. There they remain with their three children, until the onsetof the sixties, when their eldest daughter runs away to SanFrancisco. Their marriage survives for a while, finally crumbling inthe seventies. If this all sounds a tad generic, Tyler's case isn'thelped by the characteristics she's given the two spouses. Him:repressed, censorious, quiet. Her: voluble, emotional, romantic. Mars,meet Venus. What marks this couple, though, and what makes them comealive, is their bitter, unproductive, tooth-and-nail fighting. Tyleris exploring the way that ordinary-seeming, prosperous people cansurvive in emotional poverty for years on end. She gets just right thetricks Michael and Pauline play on themselves in order to staytogether: "How many times," Pauline asks herself, "when she was wearyof dealing with Michael, had she forced herself to recall the way he'dlooked that first day? The slant of his fine cheekbones, the firmingof his lips as he pressed the adhesive tape in place on her forehead."Only in antogonism do Michael and Pauline find a way to expressthemselves. --Claire Dederer ... Read more

Customer Reviews (193)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Anne Tyler does it again with this wonderful book that spans a couples marriage over fifty years. Tyler is such a master at character development that I feel as if I know her characters personally. She really brings her characters to life and in "An Amateur Marriage," they jump right off the page and into your heart.

This story follows Pauline and Michael through the ups and downs of marriage. There is no sugar coating here and sad things do happen, but through it all you see the love the two have for each other and their drive to keep their marriage together.

In the days of quick divorces, it is nice to read a book about a couple surviving marriage and making the best of it. This is just a truly glorious book.

1-0 out of 5 stars A change for Anne Tyler
It sees to me that The Amateur Marriage marks a change from what I`ve come to expect from Anne Tyler.I`ve read most of her books but was greatly disappointed with this one and those that followed.The absurdities of life, as pointed out by Ms Tyler, made her books a must for me.In this book that playfulness seems to be gone and what is left is a description of sad lives with little relief.In the past, much was said without hitting the reader over the head.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
This is the story of a couple.It starts the moment they meet.It's right at the brink of the United States' entrance into World War II, an electrifying time for young people.We follow this couple through many shifts.Are they mismatched or perfectly matched, perfectly complementary opposites?The quiet. methodical, caring husband, Michael, and his wife, compassionate, emotional, quick to anger, quick to forgive (if not forget) Pauline.And their children, the good ones who are often taken for granted and the problematic daughter who is the center of her parents thought-- especially when she is gone.

The decades change as the couple ages. Do they mature?Perhaps they just get more set in their separate personalities, anticipating each other's reactions.Is that love?

This novel goes through decades of changes.There is enough happening within the family to create a meandering plot, with idiosyncratic family members who seem so real to me that I mourn their losses.This book gently examines love as a metamorphosis from that first moment when Michael sees Pauline in her red coat, to something unrecognizable.I wonder how many husbands (mine?) could identify with Michael and how many wives (!) with Pauline?And, in the end, isn't love the sometimes tumultuous coming together of opposites?

4-0 out of 5 stars Life's Transcendence Over Adversity
In this novel by Anne Tyler, two young people meet and what
should have been a fun fling ends up being, due to a twist
of fate, their marriage.

Children, suffering, growth and deaths along with years of
conflicting non-parallel existences lead to the husband re-
alizing that he must leave this stifling trap of toxicity.
The marriage has become a dynamic of two people hating each
other and bringing out the worst that each as to offer.
Neither person alne is bad but the marriage creates a dark
and lonely life stretch that both are stranded in.

The husband 'abandons' his family but she realizes that it's
for the best.Was their 25 or 35 years together a lifetime
or was it only a beginning?What they had together is vague
except for a sense of loyalty to family and despair at not
finding goodness together.

Tyler's characters are rarely likable or too dazzling when we
meet them and they never stray far away from our first sight
of them.When we look and listen carefully and observe the
dynamics, we see the depths of irrevocable loss and pain,
the desire of something under water to head upwards towards
the sunlight.Who will make it and who will drown?Tyler
answers this question, providing beauty and complexity in the
mundane transcendence of life over adversity.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Novel Menagerie's Perspective ...
This novel has been sitting on my shelf for a while, waiting for my attention and reading.While awaiting my Barnes & Noble order, which contains the books that I can't wait to sink my teeth into, I picked up this one off of my bookshelf and fulfilled my promise to myself to read it.

Now, I read Back When We Were Grown Ups by Anne Tyler some time ago (goodness, at least 2+ years ago), I wasn't blown away by that novel.I can recall picking this hardback from the airport bookstore when nothing else seemed appealing and thought I'd give the author another shot at grabbing my interest.

I was able to read this novel in just a short few days.Usually that pace is reserved for the novels that I can't wait to read.. but, this one grabbed my attention about 80 or so pages in.This story is a tale that takes you from the beginning of a marriage, at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor (1941), through to the near end of the main character's life.The Amateur Marriage contains moments that made me gasp aloud for Pauline, its heroine, and laugh aloud for the other main character, her husband, Michael.Pauline and Michael meet, by chance, in a small town near Baltimore.Pauline's fall from a street car, and subsequent minor head injury, lead her and her girlfriends into Michael's mother's small town store.Pauline was an energy that Michael simply did not resist and, after bandaging her wound, he followed her to watch the "parade" of local war enlistees.

Pauline and Michael share a very short-lived courtship, if you will, and Michael is off to serve his country.Pauline, a young woman with a limited ability to live a life of calm and who maintains a flair for the dramatic, writes Michael in "boot camp."As the days drag on, her youthful age and restless spirit change the tone of her letters to Michael from those of passion and wanting, to daily tales of the happenings within the sleepy small town.Michael grows resentful of the fact that he cannot be with Pauline and that she is socializing with other young men and women.It literally drives him crazy to the point that he lashes out at a fellow soldier in the bunks.This led to that soldier's retaliation of a rifle shot right through Michael's buttock!

As Michael returns home earlier than expected, Pauline is met with Michael's proposal.Quickly and unconventionally, they marry and begin their married life living with Michael's mother in a small apartment above the store.The cramped quarters prove to be a challenge for the spirited Pauline, but Michael is apparently able to sooth her into logic and reason... to be sensible and come and live the life with him that she had chosen.These two young'ns suffer the struggles of early wedhood and the reader watches Pauline's high spirit draw out Michael's true heart felt feelings towards her.Michael and Pauline have 3 children and eventually move to the suburbs, mom-in-law in tow. Michael opens a larger, "super market" type of store and grows away from the small town store.

You see Pauline's doubts surface about her marriage in her flirtation with a neighborhood divorcee... and her attempts at straying in the relationship being caught by Michael's acute awareness and thoroughness.It seems as though Pauline is tied to her role of mother, cook and caretaker.Although, none of those roles seems to fill her spirit.Her passionate fights and make-ups with Michael make for a reality in their marriage that is enjoyable to watch and read about.

The good thing about this novel is that it spans the lifetime of these characters, including their three children, Lindy, George and Karen.We learn that their oldest daughter, Lindy, runs away causing a pain in the family that causes irreparable harm.After years pass, Pauline is contacted by Lindy's "landlady" who informs her that Lindy has been committed, hospitalized of sorts, and that Lindy's son needs to be picked up or she'd have to contact social services to pick him up.Pauline and Michael jump on a plane to take their first flight, ever, to San Francisco to pick up Lindy and her son (I loved this part of the story).When they arrive in San Francisco, they learn that Lindy is really self-committed to a commune, of sorts, and has renamed herself to "Serenity."They arrive at the landlady's apartment to later be introduced to Pagan, Lindy's son.Michael's reaction to that name is priceless!Michael, Pauline and Pagan head back home, sans Lindy and begin a life raising this boy.I believe that Michael falls in love with Pauline all over again during this transition in their lives.

As Pauline and Michael celebrate their 30th Anniversary with their children, they are given a gift.The gift was a framed set of individual portraits of each of them, immediately before they met one another.The table conversation leads to explain that the picture shows them before they knew one another and what their lives were to become.Michael and Pauline reminisce, good and bad, over the span of their marriage.At bedtime, Pauline approaches bed in her slip in anticipation of love-making and Michael turns her down.They have a conversation about their marriage and Michael insults Pauline.A comment is made about Michael leaving and Pauline reacts with her typical, "then go ahead and go" childish reaction.But, this time, Michael leaves and never returns home.Pauline tries to resurrect their marriage, but it is finished for Michael and there is no return to home.

I must say that I did not like the end of this book.Michael remarries and it is more than obvious that he talks himself into believing he loves his second wife, Anna, just because she is the opposite of Pauline (i.e. total lack-luster, plain, boring, unemotional, complacent).But, I believe that he is still in love with Pauline in a way that Anna will never match.Pagan grows up well, despite the divorce. George starts a family of his own and becomes his mother's "repair man."Karen is plain strange and becomes an attorney for the underprivileged.By the time that Lindy returns, Pauline has died of a car accident.I hate this for two reasons: 1) the reader doesn't get to read about Pauline's death via from her viewpoint, we just hear about it after the fact; and 2) we don't get to see Michael's true reaction to her death.Seems like a lazy way to end Pauline's story, in my opinion.Eventually, the entire family has a meal together, sans the dead Pauline, and I am not moved by any of it.I think that Tyler tries to tie up the ending by having Michael walk to Pauline's house at the end of the story, but I totally don't get it at all!I read it 3 times, still don't get it.If you get it, email me!

In any event, the ending just ruined the book for me.I had thought that, in comparison to Back When We Were Grown Ups, this book was much better... until the end.Ugh.I guess that I am not Tyler's target audience because I want an ending with more meaning and depth.It's almost like Tyler just gave up on the story.On the "Out of Ten Scale," unfortunately, I would have to give this one a six.It would have gotten a 7-8, however the story just bombed for me at the end.I guess this author just isn't my cup of tea, after all.

On a final note, I don't think that, in a marriage, there is such thing as being anything but an amateur... there is no "being a pro" at it.Marriage is a dance, a discovery, a union, and a commitment to friendship.As people grow and change, the dance changes... the union changes.You either learn to remain a part of it or you walk away.There would be no way of "being a pro," I believe.The only way to be is just to live it and try to remain tethered to one another by the truth of pure love.

... Read more

6. A Patchwork Planet (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 304 Pages (1999-02-22)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449003981
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In this, her fourteenth novel--and one of her most endearing--Anne Tyler tells the story of a lovable loser who's trying to get his life in order.

Barnaby Gaitlin has been in trouble ever since adolescence. He had this habit of breaking into other people's houses. It wasn't the big loot he was after, like his teenage cohorts. It was just that he liked to read other people's mail, pore over their family photo albums, and appropriate a few of their precious mementos.

But for eleven years now, he's been working steadily for Rent-a-Back, renting his back to old folks and shut-ins who can't move their own porch furniture or bring the Christmas tree down from the attic. At last, his life seems to be on an even keel.

Still, the Gaitlins (of "old" Baltimore) cannot forget the price they paid for buying off Barnaby's former victims. And his ex-wife would just as soon he didn't show up ever to visit their little girl, Opal. Even the nice, steady woman (his guardian angel?) who seems to have designs on him doesn't fully trust him, it develops, when the chips are down, and it looks as though his world may fall apart again.

There is no one like Anne Tyler, with her sharp, funny, tender perceptions about how human beings navigate on a puzzling planet, and she keeps us enthralled from start to finish in this delicious new novel.Amazon.com Review
Barnaby Gaitlin is one of Anne Tyler's most promising unpromising characters. At 30, he has yet to graduate from college, is already divorced, and is used to defeat. His mother thrives on reminding him of his adolescent delinquency and debt to his family, and even his daughter is fed up with his fecklessness. Still, attuned as he is to "the normal quota for misfortune," Barney is one of the star employees of Baltimore's Rent-a-Back, Inc., which pays him an hourly wage to help old people (and one young agoraphobe) run errands and sort out their basements and attics. Anne Tyler makes you admire most of these mothball eccentrics (though they're far from idealized) and hope that they can stave off nursing homes and death. There is, for example, "the unstoppable little black grandma whose children phoned us on an emergency basis whenever she threatened to overdo." And then there's Barnaby's new girlfriend's aunt, who will eventually accuse him of theft--"Over her forearm she carried a Yorkshire terrier, neatly folded like a waiter's napkin. 'This is my doorbell,' she said, thrusting him toward me. 'I'd never have known you were out here if not for Tatters.'" These people are wonderful creations, but their lives are more brittle than cuddly, Barnaby knows better than to think of them as friends, because they'll only die on him. Yet his job offers at least glimpses of roots and affection. Helping an old lady set up her Christmas tree (on New Year's Eve!) gives him the chance to hang a singular ornament--a snowflake "pancake-sized, slightly crumpled, snipped from gift wrap so old that the Santas were smoking cigarettes." And Barnaby himselfis sharp and impatient at painful--and painfully funny--family dinners,apparently unable to keep his finger off the auto-self-destruct buttonevery time his life improves. As much as his superb creator, he is a poet of disappointment, resignation, and minute transformation. --KerryFried ... Read more

Customer Reviews (178)

4-0 out of 5 stars Unpleasantly real
Except for the part about angels, A Patchwork Planet is a realistic story about regular people struggling their way through life -- job, partner, family. They manage to take opportunities of riches and love and turn them into tedious choices that turn out, for the most part, poorly. All the scenes, on the backdrop of the workers and customers of Rent-a-Back service -- do-all handymen (and women) -- are recognizable to the smallest details. The nicknames for grandparents, the high-school acquaintances "adopted" by parents as if they had been our best friends, lonely singles, nervous co-worker dates. It's just so unpleasantly real.

4-0 out of 5 stars Patchwork of simple truths
A Patchwork Planet doesn't draw the reader in with heart-pulsing action, or great tension. This is a novel of emotional conundrums, of everyday life. It deals with the nature of ambition, showing how recognition and private achievement are two different things. It deals with self as a social product versus self as the embodiment of choices. It also is a coming-of-age story of a kind.

Its (anti-)hero is Barnaby Gaitlin, an ex reform-school pupil, divorced at the age of twenty-nine, penniless, and a rebel to his conventional, well-to-do family. Barnaby is stuck between what he knows is the right path: finding fulfilment in his low-paid job helping old people with odd jobs, being himself with his kid daughter, looking for a partner who respects him - and what is expected of him: superficial success, money, falling in line with parental bigotry. Two women, after a few twists, come to represent these alternatives: the outwardly perfect, angelic Sophia and the moodier Martine. Though Barnaby isn't a character one necessarily identifies with, Tyler's feat is to make us accept his chosen course as right. Modesty matters, she says. Her style, as simple as can be, devoid of a single metaphor, is adapted to her narrator's voice, though it also seems to be how she likes to write. It makes her message all the more convincing.

2-0 out of 5 stars Must be an acquired taste
I have friends who LOVE Anne Tyler, and keep prevailing upon me to try (and re-try) her books. So I have, with this one... But this kind of writing must be an acquired taste. I'm almost halfway into "A Patchwork Planet" -- and really, nothing has happened yet. Once again, we have this charmingly, almost poignantly purposeless character, incredibly passive, waiting for something to HAPPEN to him. Just as the reader waits for something (anything!) to happen to him. I want him to get up off his leisurely arse, take charge, and DO something! -- but he doesn't seem the type, so I doubt I'll bother finishing the book. This is probably due to a shortcoming on my part: I'm far too impatient to be deliberately set adrift in this casual, aimless sort of story.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting one time read
If you are looking for an action packed book with real plot and character development skip "A Patchwork Planet." This book is just like the quote above there are epiphanies on one page by our main character Barnaby and then the next page we are right back to where we started. In fact the book comes full circle in Penn Station with a mysterious envelope that needs to be delivered to a woman on the other end. However just because I make the bold claim that the book and Barnaby are shallow does not mean it is a waste of time to read. There are moments that are absolutely wonderful. When Barnaby looses a client to death it is absolutely a heartfelt moment where he has this stunning realization that material possessions mean nothing when you die (it is stunning for Barnaby because often he seems to be in a world of his own just bouncing along). The book works wonderfully with time. There are so many explorations of how time changes things, does not change people and seems to slow down once a certain age is reached. Those portions of book are worth it. Overall it was an interesting read but like many of the books I have read throughout my life it will be traded for another and probably not revisited.

I write more about this on my blog Amanda's Weekly Zen.

5-0 out of 5 stars Seamless Style
"A Patchwork Planet"--what a terrific title--has a dark edge and all the rich assortment of Anne Tyler detail we've come to expect. Barnaby Gaitlin isn't exactly likable. He's a bit clueless and under-powered. All the Gaitlins have a story about an angel and he's looking for his own. He's boastful at odd times and tells "geeky, unnecessary lies." He's divorced when we meet him and later learn that he woke up one day and realized he was married to a "station wagon mommy." But he has an eye for clothes, challenges the notion that a spot of comfort and privilege had been reserved for him in life and goes about his business working for "Rent-A-Back," a service company that helps old and infirm people with their lifting and moving projects. He knows his life is "muddy" and he's constantly filtering what people say and how they act, studying the things that annoy him.

The plot has a mildly Patricia Highsmith quality to it--a mostly good but down-and-out sort who lives in a basement apartment and struggles against the expectations others have for him. He's easily deluded by his own curious and over-active imagination. But he knows he can delude himself and even scolds himself for pursuing his delusions. And then one particular pursuit pays off and the book is off and running, as he connects with a woman. The woman represents hope and a chance to start clean. Or does it? "Couldn't people change?" Barnaby asks at one point. "Did they have to be who they were from cradle to grave?" He's thinking about others but asking about himself, too. And that's the book in a nutshell--can Barnaby escape his reputation and move up in the eyes of others? And, does he really want to?A wonderful series of mix-ups and miscommunications leads to a juicy, fine finish that's ripe for multiple interpretations.

Tyler puts together a fine ensemble cast of characters--each of the elderly clients of Barnaby's are sharply drawn as are the members of Barnaby's extended family and his closest co-worker, Martine.

The details are wonderful. The "fragile, sore-looking" skin. The dress form--or is it a twin form?--in the attic. The "creak, pause, creak" of a rocking chair upstairs. The "little white, pipe-cleaner shins."There are little Tyler gifts throughout, enriching the entire experience. The planet may be a patchwork, but Anne Tyler's style is seamless.
... Read more

7. Digging to America: A Novel
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 304 Pages (2007-08-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034549234X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Anne Tyler’s richest, most deeply searching novel–a story about what it is to be an American, and about Iranian-born Maryam Yazdan, who, after 35 years in this country, must finally come to terms with her “outsiderness.”

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport – the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an “arrival party” that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in – up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson’s recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes – her traditions, her privacy, her otherness–are suddenly threatened.

A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that immerse us in the challenges of both sides of the American story.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

4-0 out of 5 stars Culture
This was definitely an interesting book and the first I read by Anne Tyler.I particularly liked the emphasis on cultures and fitting in.Tyler did a wonderful job portraying the story from a multi-generational/multi-cultural point of view.Definitely worth reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice start, but the ending fizzled
I like Anne Tyler a great deal, but this has to be my least favorite book of hers. Digging to America gets off to a great start, with an interesting premise and endless possibilities.

And even midway through, it unfolds into a sweet if shallow depiction of two families adjusting to life with newborn girls adopted from Korea. A stilted romance develops that never feels genuine, which I was OK with because it wasn't the main focus of the book.

But what in the world happened to the ending? The very idea that the entire Dickinson-Donaldson clan would abruptly ditch a party without telling anyone to go ring the bell at Maryam's house is ridiculous, as is the possibility that Maryam -- as disciplined and rigorous as she is -- would somehow fall asleep on her bed and miss an important annual party.

And where exactly did the romance end up? Granted, I was speed-reading at the end just to finish, but I couldn't figure out if these two people were together by the end or not.

In short, I wouldn't recommend this book. There are plenty of more worthy Tyler novels to spend a weekend with.

5-0 out of 5 stars Tyler at her best
There are some writers so prolific that their books pop out like toaster pastries every few months or so.These writers can be fun and engaging and have their many devoted fans. Other writers, of the slower, and I believe more perceptive kind, may take several years to complete a novel. Novelist Anne Tyler is one of these writers, for her novels often have a multi-year gap between appearances.Therefore, her many fans, have long waits for the delights of discovering a new Anne Tyler novel.

But the wait is always worth it.Tyler's last novel Digging to America(I hear she's got another one due in January, 2010) is unquestionably one of her best, and in some ways, the most timely, dealing as it does with questions of immigration, the Muslim world, and the American dream.The story follows the lives and fates of two American families who meet at a Baltimore airport where each family is eagerly awaiting the arrival of two orphaned baby girls from Korea. The families, the Donaldsons and the Yazdans, represent two sides of America, the long established and the newly established.Bitsy Donaldson is a typical, optimistic, anxiety-driven American woman, eager to make the world right and tell everyone what to do.Maryam Yazdan, whose son Sami and daughter in law Ziba also adopted a Korean orphan, is often at emotional odds with the pushy but well meaning Bitsy.After their brief, awkward meeting at the airport, Bitsy's decides that the families should get together each year for an "Arrival Party" to mutually celebrate the arrival of the two orphan girls.Caught up in her unyielding plans, the extended families ofDonaldsons and Yazdans are drawn together, perhaps more often than they might freely choose for themselves.

As the year pass, the families continue to be drawn to and tangled up with each other, sometimes willingly, sometimes reluctantly.Most resistant to these enforced socializations is Maryam who dislikes having anyone plan any aspect of her life.Maryam is the most enigmatic of the all the characters in Digging for America.It is she who continues to feel like the outsider, who misses her native Iran, and wonders if she will ever feel that America is her home. When Bitsy Donaldson's father, newly single after the death of his wife, makes tentative advances to Maryam, Maryam's reaction is to feel overwhelmed by his American assertiveness and confidence which seem to threaten the steady and satisfying rhythm of her days.

No one can be as dryly funny and as touchingly tender as Anne Tyler.Married for many years to an Iranian, Tyler has an inside track on the domestic lives of Iranian families with their lively conversation and quarrels, their expectations, strongly held values, and struggles to make a new life in America.Read this Anne Tyler novel, expecting a subtle, serious, generous and ironic view of family life in modern America.You won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars good read
Enjoyed this book very much, the inside look at adopting a foreign born child, and the way it had the views from each person, and how they each saw it differently, the "arrival party" and the song they would sing each year.Even though they were completely different from each other they still had such friendship.

5-0 out of 5 stars A relationship that touches three generations
When the Yazdans, an Iranian-American couple, and the Donaldsons cross paths at Baltimore's Airport while receiving their adopted Korean baby girls, they begin a relationship that touches three generations. The Donaldsons, Brad and Bitsy, an upper middle class couple with a enthusiastic extended family, refer to their little girl as Jin-Ho while Sami and Ziba Yazdan, name their daughter Susan. The story follows Jin-Ho and Susan's formative years via the relationships formed between the families. The good folks of Digging to America live normal, happy lives enriched by their efforts to embrace diversity; something that happens frequently in real life too. ... Read more

8. Breathing Lessons: A Novel
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 339 Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345485572
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Maggie and Ira Moran have been married for twenty-eight years–and it shows: in their quarrels, in their routines, in their ability to tolerate with affection each other’s eccentricities. Maggie, a kooky, lovable meddler and an irrepressible optimist, wants nothing more than to fix her son’s broken marriage. Ira is infuriatingly practical, a man “who should have married Ann Landers.” And what begins as a day trip to a funeral becomes an adventure in the unexpected. As Maggie and Ira navigate the riotous twists and turns, they intersect with an assorted cast of eccentrics–and rediscover the magic of the road called life and the joy of having somebody next to you to share the ride . . . bumps and all.Amazon.com Review
Maggie Moran's mission is to connect and unite people, whether theywant to be united or not. Maggie is a meddler and as she and her husband,Ira, drive 90 miles to the funeral of an old friend, Ira contemplates hiswasted life and the traffic, while Maggie hatches a plant to reunite her sonJesse with his long-estranged wife and baby. As Ira explains, "Shethinks the people she loves are better than they really are, and so then shestarts changing things around to suit her view of them." Though everyonecriticizes her for being "ordinary," Maggie's ability to see thebeauty and potential in others ultimately proves that she is the only onefighting the resignation they all fear. The book captured the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1989. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (109)

3-0 out of 5 stars Personal Opinion
I now understand why I am not a book editor, publisher or critic.I absolutely became totally involved in Ladder of Years, The Accidental Tourist, The Amateur Marriage, and even Morgan's Passing, and I would have easily nominated all for the Pulitzer.Therefore, I was most disappointed with Breathing Lessons, I kept looking for more. I found it to be disjointed, too simple and too many words wasted on eventswhich seemed so unimportant and unimaginative. Clearly, I missed what many others thought to be a superb novel. And evidently, I missed the "message."

I am an avid fan and I cannot put Ms Tyler's books down once I begin reading, but Breathing Lessons is actually the last one I would recommend when attempting to convince anyone to join me in my loverly (sic) addiction to Anne Tyler!

I really enjoyed Anne Tyler's new book "Noah's Compass" so I went back to reading some of her older novels. I picked up "Breathing Lessons" at a library book sale for fifty cents. I am glad I didn't pay more. I don't understand the point to this book, it wasn't interesting and didn't have any surprises (like Noah's Compass). I found it to be rather depressing. The only part that was interesting was after Maggie watched the film from her friend's wedding and realized her original feelings for her husband.
I don't think I can read another of her novels.

3-0 out of 5 stars Topic Too Strained for This Reader [73]
The term "Breathing Lessons" - derived from the prenatal classes shared by protagonist Maggie Moran and her daughter-in-law Fiona - fools the reader into thinking that this book would engage in familial bliss. It does not.

This book starts with the funeral of Maggie's best friend's husband, evolves into an impromptu visit with the daughter in law who divorced Maggie's son years ago, and amid that matrimonial squalor is a collaterally damaged child left scarred by parental fury toward one another - which is aggravated by grandparent interference where worse things can be said or done.

Ira Moran, Maggie's husband, admits to having no friends, having a lousy relationship with his son, and knows he is disrespected by his soon-to-be-a-coed daughter. The weather forecast for their lives in the Baltimore suburbs appears to be "rain every day."

These 50-somethings in mid-life crisis, soon-to-be-empty-nesters, have to contemplate what their lives have been. And, the answer is not pretty. "He was just as sad as Maggie was, and for just the same reasons. He was lonely and tired and lacking in hope and his son had not turned out well and his daughter didn't think much of him, and he still couldn't figure where he had gone wrong."Gray weather is more than a forecast; gray weather is the funk these people live and exude in this novel.

After trudging through the continual blues these two creatures constantly endure, the author finishes the book with one more off note: "[M]aggie had a sudden view of her life as circular. It forever repeated itself, and it was entirely lacking in hope."

The Morans are seemingly similar to Updike's Rabbit Angstrom, Revolutionary Road's Frank Wheeler, The Moviegoer's Binx Bolling or more mid-century main characters who seem out of it. But, unlike those books, this book revolves around parents who stayed the course and raised their children, together, to adulthood. But, whether defeated before parenting (Bolling), or when starting parenting (Rabbit or Wheeler), or upon ending parenting, these other authors and Anne Taylor received fanfare. Bitter lives can make Pulitzer material.But, be forewarned, this is not light or fun stuff these people live with or through. There is comedy sprinkled about, but much more misery and doldrums.

If you can read hundreds of pages about people who live without hope, knock yourself out. Personally, this is hard for me to do. Maybe it is because I am Maggie's and Ira's age. Maybe not

3-0 out of 5 stars Skillfully Written but Lacks any Real Point
This book is skillfully written as are all her works.Yet the book's characters are not people I
could choose to care much about.They are bothersome and I felt disengaged with them - -
like, 'What's the point?'

There were some morals and astute observations thrown in but it was a long haul to finish
this book.I suppose one could say that the book took a long look at the varied curves and
cadences of a marriage - - the changing profundity and depth of love experienced by two
people who have shared their lives together for almost 30 years.

1-0 out of 5 stars Like one of my nightmares
I have a recurring nightmare.I'm on my way to perform some task, but repeatedly get sidetracked by other events.When I wake up I have a vague sense of dissatisfaction.That's pretty much how I feel about Breathing Lessons - it's a tedious journey to nowhere.

It speaks to the author's talents that she can create characters, dialogue and situations that are realistic.But this was not an enjoyable book for me.Maggie set my teeth on edge - she is a dithering chatterbox who drives her family (and the reader) crazy.

I read this book when it first came out and then shelved it.I took it down again to read last week to see if my appreciation of it had improved with time.

Nope. ... Read more

9. Digging to America
by Anne Tyler
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2006-05-02)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$3.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0027IQB8S
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In what is perhaps her richest and most deeply searching novel, Anne Tyler gives us a story about what it is to be an American, and about Maryam Yazdan, who after
Thirty-five years in this country must finally come to terms with her “outsiderness.”

Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport—the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian American wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate with an “arrival party,” an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.

Even independent-minded Maryam is drawn in. But only up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by one of the Donaldson clan, a good-hearted man of her vintage, recently widowed and still recovering from his wife’s death, suddenly all the values she cherishes—her traditions, her privacy, her otherness—are threatened. Somehow this big American takes up so much space that the orderly boundaries of her life feel invaded.

A luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny, and tender observations that cast a penetrating light on the American way as seen from two perspectives, those who are born here and those who are still struggling to fit in. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (164)

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read....
Since this is my first Anne Tyler book, I am not as critical as some of the reviews I have read by long time fans.I found the book to be wonderfully engaging. As I live abroad, I thought that the "immigrant" side of things was rather clearly thought out in the book. Perhaps the ending was a bit wordy, but I would recommend it to my friends.

4-0 out of 5 stars Charming but not amazing
This novel begins with two families meeting their newly adopted Korean daughters at the LAX airport. One family is all-American: They're loud, they have video cameras, and the whole extended family is there. The other couple just brings one visitor, and they're much quieter, but they're no less excited about their new child. The families end up friends because of their daughters, and the novel follows their relationships with each other, America, the girls, and their countries of origin over the next five or six years. Charming, although not a lot happened.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed this book, and the reader who read it aloud. The book is an engaging, nuanced portrait of two intertwined families, that captures truths about the nature of being a foreigner, but also the nature of being a family, a parent, a child. The book doesn't give readers pat answers, but nonetheless has a very generous spirit to it. I grew more and more engrossed as I listened. The reader is great too -- nicely paced, capturing the voices of the many different Iranian and American characters in this novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Anne Tyler book in years...
I have been an Anne Tyler fan since her first (and still one of her very best) book.A few of her more recent books, while good reads, were not as engaging to me as previous titles but oh well.Can't hit it out of the park every time.

But in this book, she returns to her best form. The characters are real, and the mundane details of their lives makes them even more so.

The Binky Farewell Party is funny, but the scene a few pages (and several days) later sews it all up hilariously, as the child is seen jamming the one remaining binky into her mouth with the full approbation of her family...any parent who has tried taking a 'binky' away before a kid is ready - and then ended up doing a midnight run to a drugstore - will relate.

I couldn't wait to read this book each evening and was sorry when it ended. That, to me, is a good book.

5-0 out of 5 stars slice of life
I found "Digging To America" to be a little on the "c'mon let's get the story moving on" side, but being an Anne Tyler fan I know her stories in the end leave you wishing there was more. This one seemed to get better in the last 50-60 pages as I wasn't sure how things would turn out between all the characters.

I've enjoyed her other works more (The Accidental Tourist, The Amatuer Marriage, Ladder of Years), but still another great slice of life carved out by a true literary genious. ... Read more

10. Earthly Possessions
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 197 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$0.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449911810
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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"To read a novel by Anne Tyler is to fall in love."


Charlotte Emory has always lived a quiet, conventional life in Clarion, Maryland. She lives as simply as possible, and one day decides to simplify everything and leave her husband. Her last trip to the bank throws Charlotte's life into an entirely different direction when a restless young man in a nylon jacket takes her hostage during the robbery--and soon the two are heading south into an unknown future, and a most unexpected fate....

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars I'd run away from home, but I can't cross the street...,.
Anne Tyler's characters are quirky - that's a given. And this is an especially quirky and interesting lot. Although an early book, this is a vintage Tyler plot - the woman who needs to run away from home.

Thirty-five-year-old Charlotte is in the process of leaving her family - again - when she is taken hostage by the world's most ineffectual bank robber. The two flee by bus to liberate the robber's girl friend from a home for unwed mothers, and in the process we learn Charlotte's story.

It's an early Tyler and the characters are a bit over-the-top, but nevertheless worth reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Years Later Earthly Possessions Still An Enjoyable Journey. . .
In keeping with the theme of trying to re-read books I haven't read in a long time, Anne Tyler's Earthly Possessions was next on my list. It had been 11 years since I last read the book as research for the first of many papers I would write on Tyler.

Honestly what struck me the most in terms of what I didn't remember was how short the books was. This has to be her shortest novel apart from A Slipping Down Life, and was such a quick and easy read compared to most of her others.The second thing I had forgotten was how badly I felt for Charlotte's character. In so many ways her life seemed only about enduring. And enduring in ways I can't imagine. Although, so many of Tyler's stories are about just that - the ability of human beings to endure the seemingly unendurable things.

And yes, part of that may make it seem too boring or too upsetting to read, but I can assure you Charlotte's journey is a journey worth taking. Quirky and flawed, these characters make you think. The use of photographs and paper dolls. The way Charlotte wanted to cast off all her belongings so as to not be weighed down.And at times, it makes you laugh. I still, years later, can't help but smile at Mindy's naivety. The plethora of both miniature and real furniture doubling up in the house.

While Earthly Possessions holds a special memory for me because it was my second Anne Tyler book, it is not my favorite. I love the story, the idea of it, but Charlotte is not my favorite character by far. Even though, admittedly, she does grow on you.

4-0 out of 5 stars Breezy and perceptive but not one of her best
Reading "Digging to America" and then "Earthly possessions" back to back has confirmed my suspicion that Tyler's earlier novels (of which the latter is one) lacks something that the latter novels have. Is it wisdom? That I do not know. The earlier novels such as this one have the same penetrating perception describing families peopled with the usual eccentric characthers but they are not quite as satisfying and this one is not as moving as some of the later Tyler novels. However, the book is enjoyable and one is left wondering about the complexity of the heroine who we gradually get to know as the novel proceeds by looking deep into her past. But do we really know her? I suspose that is the issue with a lot of Tyler novels, the characthers remain somewhat cryptic and unknowable but maybe that more accurately reflects the reality of life.

5-0 out of 5 stars I identified with Charlotte!
In the present, Charlotte is kidnapped, going on a road trip with a kind of pathetic well-intentioned criminal and very little money. She ends up having an almost-friendship with the criminal, who is in a vicious cycle of doing stupid things, having a bad reputation for doing stupid things, and doing more stupid things to try and get away from his reputation. Later we meet another love-hate relationship when the girlfriend gets on the scene. We've all seen couples like this in real life; they argue all the time, but can't really be apart, the longer they're together the more codependent they become. Listening to them gives you a headache, but they can also be amusing. Tyler does a good job at portraying this.

The book also goes into Charlotte's past and this is where I realized she like me in some ways. Aside from a brief stint in apartment living, I am entering my third decade and living in the same house I was raised in, with a husband and a parent. I had always wanted to get out and was afraid that I would never be able to. After being out "in the real world" for awhile, I realized being at home wasn't so bad. In the end of the book I think she comes to the same conclusion that I have: even though I've lived in mostly one place, that doesn't mean that I can't have adventures. And as much as I have sometimes hated not just the house but the neighborhood I live in, I also have an affection for it because it has been such a part of who I am.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Tyler's best
I got this because I've really enjoyed Anne Tyler's books, but this one was quite disappointing.It wasn't bad compared to many other books, but it is very weak compared to her other stuff.If you haven't read her before, I would recommend The Accidental Tourist or Digging to America.Those are MUCH better than this one. ... Read more

11. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 320 Pages (1998-01-03)
list price: US$12.62 -- used & new: US$7.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0099916401
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Through every family run memories which bind it together - despite everything. The Tulls of Baltimore were no exception. Abandoned by her salesman husband, Pearl is left to bring up her three children alone - Cody, a flawed devil, Ezra, a flawed saint, and Jenny, errant and passionate. Now as Pearl lies dying, stiffly encased in her pride and solitude, the past is unlocked and with its secrets. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (79)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very pleased
I was pleased with both the speed with which I received the item as well as the condition of it cassette tapes and case.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my Favorites
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, has always been among my favorite Anne Tyler novels. The novel spans several decades in the life of the Tull family of Baltimore, Maryland. It begins with 85-year-old Pearl Tull, blind and on her deathbed, looking back at her life and that of her three grown children - Cody, Jenny, and Ezra. Told from alternating points of view,Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is ultimately about how growing up in an unconventional, dysfunctional family affected the three siblings in very different ways. It can be a heartbreakingly sad story, as the Tulls repeatedly try to accomplish the impossible: complete a family meal together.

Anne Tyler is a truly gifted writer. Her character development and attention to detail is exquisite as she explores complex interpersonal relationships in the Tull family. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant won the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle award and the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. If you haven't read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, you really should. Very Highly Recommended

1-0 out of 5 stars Depressing
Let me start by saying I have always loved to read.I came across this book in our coworkers' shared library.After finally finishing this book, I can say it is a depressing book about a depressing "family" (who hate or are disappointed in themselves and each other).Everyone in this book is depressed!What a downer, I don't consider this fine literature no matter how well written.I was appalled to see these reviews and realize that it is onreading lists for students - what a shame!As bad as Silas Marner, which I remember struggling through in high school.WHY put boring, depressing books on a reading list if you want young people to enjoy reading???!

5-0 out of 5 stars Possibly the Best Book of My Life!
What an incredible book! My first Anne Tyler and I've gone on to read them all. This book is so incredibly sad, so incredibly sad, so heartwarming, so real, so searingly honest, it literally leaves you gasping. Nick Hornby (great author) has been quoted as saying this is the book that made him want to be a writer - I can see why.
This book literally tugged at my heart strings, I literally felt my heart constrict in grief and expand in joy. It's a masterpiece. Read it.

1-0 out of 5 stars Absolute garbage.
This book was forced down my throat in High School and while that was quite some time ago, I remember it vividly. This book drags on seemingly forever without going anywhere. The characters are very bland and uninteresting. The story is entirely predictable. Anybody who would call this book worthy of reading must be comparing it to a street sign. ... Read more

12. The Accidental Tourist: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 352 Pages (2002-04-09)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345452003
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The New York Times

Macon Leary is a travel writer who hates both travel and anything out of the ordinary. He is grounded by loneliness and an unwillingness to compromise his creature comforts when he meets Muriel, a deliciously peculiar dog-obedience trainer who up-ends Macon’s insular world–and thrusts him headlong into a remarkable engagement with life.

“BITTERSWEET . . . EVOCATIVE . . . It’s easy to forget this is the warm lull of fiction; you half-expect to run into her characters at the dry cleaners . . . Tyler [is] a writer of great compassion.”
The Boston Globe

“Tyler has given us an endlessly diverting book whose strength gathers gradually to become a genuinely thrilling one.”
Los Angeles Times

The Wall Street Journal
... Read more

Customer Reviews (89)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite novels!
Having just read and truly enjoyed Anne Tyler's latest novel, Noah's Compass, I decided to go back and reread An Accidental Tourist, her award winning novel published twenty five years ago. The warm fondness I had for her characters long ago came right back to me as the pages turned effortlessly towards an ending I did not want to reach. The back and forth dialog between Macon and Murial gave me so many laugh out loud moments throughout the book, even though the painful reality of their troubled relationship brought sadness as well. This will always be one of my favorite novels and Anne Tyler will always be one of my favorite writers. I now see how my own recently published novel's protagonist, Cecil Clemenzi, owes a small part of his unique personality to Macon Leary in Tyler's novel.An Empty Sky

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting and believable characters
All of Anne Tyler's book have very flawed and weird characters, but they never seem far-fetched.After reading The Accidental Tourist, I feel like I know those people and I miss them when the book is over.In The Accidental Tourist, Macon is a methodical man who writes guidebooks and has a crazy dog. Muriel is a dog trainer who is very impulsive and talks constantly.They are flawed characters, but as a reader, you can't help but fall in love with them. It is a book that worth reading and re-reading.I think it might be the best book I've read in a long time.

2-0 out of 5 stars I Wanted to Like It...
I read this for a book club. I very much wanted to like the book, but within the first few pages was burdened by informative dialogue and a protagonist whom by his very nature didn't want to go anywhere. Inevitably, the plot really doesn't go anywhere either, and I can believe it when the author states that she created only a one page narrative outline before writing the book. At the end, we're stuck with characters we don't really care about and a contrived ending that has no real lasting impact. I don't mean to sound harsh, but the banality was just too much for me.

5-0 out of 5 stars As good as the movie, maybe better.
I was led to this novel first by seeing the film and enjoying it immensely; secondly, by reading John Updike's positive reviews of Tyler's work in his literary collections.I recently read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and thought it was excellent - but Accidental Tourist was even better IMHO.Tyler ranks right up there with Updike in describing the mundane, though meaningful, aspects of life that make up most of a person's experience.Watching the film a 2nd time I was impressed with how much of the screenplay came straight out of the novel.I'm now an Anne Tyler fan.

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but doesn't ring true.
This book is well-written, holds your interest and is entertaining, however the plot elements are quite contrived at various points in the story. The behavior of the characters (human and canine) give the impression that they are motivated more by the writer's deadlines than by how they would actually behave if they were flesh and blood. Kept me engagedbut ultimately a throwaway read... ... Read more

13. Morgan's Passing
by Anne Tyler
 Paperback: 352 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449911721
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A tinkering, puttering sort of man, Morgan Gower works at Cullen's Hardware Store in North Baltimore. He has seven daughters and a warm wife, but as he journeys into middle age, he finds his household confusing and tedious. Then Morgan meets two lovely young newlyweds, and all three discover that no heart is safe. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars Have to finish this book!
After reading about one third of this book I began to wonder why I kept reading. Then all at once it grabbed me and I couldn't stop.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Life of Pretense
This book is thematically similar to Tyler's other works.Morgan is a klutzy n'eer-do-well who enjoys dressing in costumes and taking on other identities, ingratiating himself into the lives of people he meets at a puppet show.While pretending to be a doctor, he even delivers a baby and follows the mother around for a several months. Incomprehensibly, Morgan leaves his wife for the puppet lady.

Tyler's characters are both sympathetic and unsympathetic at the same time.They can be grating at times but her writing is wonderful.

5-0 out of 5 stars A life full of possibilities
Like Melville's "Confidence-Man," Morgan Gower wanders through life--and through this novel--as a chameleon, taking on whatever persona people expect, hope, or need from him. Now a priest, now an exile from the Klondike, now a French artiste, always an actor on the stage of other lives, his closet filled with Daniel Boone outfits and riverboat-gambler costumes--he is happy to play anyone but the middle-aged man with a wife and seven daughters and a dead-end job at a hardware store. Morgan is surely one of the most eccentric characters in recent fiction, and at first it's not quite clear if he's menacing, creepy, bonkers, or simply immature.

Morgan's lives--all of them--seem to shift when he meets Emily and Leon Meredith, two puppeteers who perform their shows for children; he poses as a doctor, delivers their baby in the back seat of a car, and mysteriously vanishes after dropping the couple off at the hospital. Just as the grateful pair imagine him as a harmless, if eccentric, guardian angel, Morgan idealizes the young couple and their daughter as the echo of his lost family life, when his daughters were still children he could protect and adore and not strangers who bother him with their marriage plans. ("You don't stop loving people just because they change size," says his exasperated, long-suffering wife.) While Emily and Leon's marriage deteriorates, they're not quite sure what to make of the eerie man who not-very-surreptitiously spies on them and whose attentions become more and more intrusive, until he insinuates himself fully into Emily's and Leon's household.

"Morgan's Passing" is perhaps Tyler's most unruly, wacky, even Dickensian novel; its fabulist plot and characters flirt alternately with the surreal and the extreme. It is also, I think, one of her most underrated works of fiction, an offbeat tale of love among the ruins of tedium, of a life still "rich with possibilities." Yet, as unique as it is among her oeuvre, the novel features a hero with a peculiarly Tylerian trait: while passing through the lives of others and transforming them all irreversibly, Morgan ends up exactly where he began.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful read from Anne Tyler
I loved this book.The main character Morgan is such a funny fellow.A hardware store manager, he enjoys dressing up and pretending to be other people. This leads his life down an entirely different course one day while he is pretending to be a doctor, and is called upon to deliver a baby.

All of the characters in this book are so well developed and comical in their own right.Morgan's wife, whom he eventually leaves for a younger woman, is spiteful but in such a lighthearted manner that the tricks she plays on Morgan come off more as harmless pranks than malice. I would highly recommend this book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but confusing
Having read a half dozen, I have mixed feelings about Tyler's books. Part of me admires and enjoys the way she can write engrossing sagas about ordinary people not necessarily doing much of anything. The other part is left feeling exhausted, like I just lived through someone else's entire life for them...and not quite sure if I got it.

Essentially, Morgan's Passing follows the story of Morgan Gower, a middle-aged man who becomes infatuated with a young couple after assisting in the emergency birth of their daughter. Gower - a married man with seven daughters - dreams of living Emily and Leon's frugal life, just as he's taken on the "roles" of many other persona in the past. As time passes, he also become obsessed with Emily, who begins to represent everything that he believes his own wife isn't, and everything he would want. Eventually, of course, Gower learns that people are just people, and not always what we think - or want - them to be. It just might be too late when that realization occurs.
... Read more

14. The Clock Winder (Arena Books)
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 256 Pages (1998-01-03)
list price: US$12.71 -- used & new: US$6.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 009946960X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Having sacked her handyman, newly-widowed Mrs Emerson finds a replacement in Elizabeth, a lanky, awkward girl. The Emersons have a reputation for craziness, there are seven adult children, and Elizabeth finds herself drawn into their disorderly lives against her will. But in the end it is hard to tell whether she is a victim of the needy Emersons, or the de facto ruler of the family. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of Tyler's most enjoyable novels
I am a big Tyler fan (excluding "Digging to America"), and had somehow missed "The Clock Winder".It is one of her most enjoyable novels.The following quote captures Tyler's ability to evoke what a character is feeling, yet the author's own wry sense of humor is also there:"She had been so small, all her life.Now she had grown to the size of a bed, with four square corners to catch on furniture."(p.247, paperback edition).

2-0 out of 5 stars By turns wierd (and not in a good way), frustrating, and boring
I have a hard time understanding how anyone could say that the characters in this book are well developed...that was one of the things that frustrated me the most: I kept wondering how a character got from point A to point B, and I couldn't picture several of the characters (especially the Emerson kids) separately in my head.

To me the ultimate sign of how this book didn't capture my full interest was that on a plane I read almost to the end before I had to close it to deplane...and it was days later before I realized that I hadn't actually finished the book.

Ultimately unsatisfying.

5-0 out of 5 stars So Good It'll Make You Wonder
You'll be so captivated by the plot, you'll want the story to go on after it's finished.Explore the impact one person can have on another's life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Yet Another Instant Classic
She does so many things so well that I could write thousands of words of analysis. And then I'd never do her justice. If you're going to read thousands of words, read the ones that Anne Tyler wrote. Trust me on this.

And we're in Baltimore. First half of the book there and second half in North Carolina, more or less.

Anne Tyler fills her books with bits that just make me interrupt whatever Jan's reading to relive them with her. She read them before I did. Again, get these books.

3-0 out of 5 stars unanswered questions
"The Clockwinder" started off strong, but after about 1/3 of the way through, I started to get bored. What was the deal with all the information about Margaret pining over her first husband? That was unnecessary. Also why did the book end with Peter and P.J....minor characters.
What made Elizabeth change her mind regarding marrying Mattew? She is shot and then next page skips to 5 years later where she and Matthew are married and have 2 kids.
I'm a fan of Anne Tyler and I understand this is one of her earlier novels. I like her later stuff better, but still, The Clockwinder was ok. ... Read more

15. Best of the South: From Ten Years of New Stories from the South
Paperback: 423 Pages (1996-01-04)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$0.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565121287
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The best-selling author of The Accidental Tourist selects her own favorite short stories from the ten volumes of Shannon Ravenel's annual anthology, featuring works by favorite established authors and outstanding new writers. Original. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars packed with great stories
I bought Best of the South a few years ago and have returned to it for rereads many times. Writers from the American south really do seem to have a corner on the market when it comes to character development. Anne Tyler does an extraordinary job of picking the stories for this volume. You won't be disappointed. My favorite is the lively, poignant story by Mark Richards entitled "The Birds for Christmas". "Heart" by Marly Swick is another sketch from a child's point of view that packs a punch. All the stories are excellent, but for me the anthology is worth the price just to be able to read about the two boys in the hospital who want to see "The Birds" on Christmas Eve on the ward's old rickety TV set, to the horror of the nurses. This anthology is filled with literary excellence, characters that jump off the page and into one's heart, and profound, painful moments that hold an unexpected mirror up before the reader, all told in the unforgettable flavor of the American south.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Collection in Years
The very first story in the collection by Leon Driskell was delicious and perfect.As I read on I could not believe that, one after another, the choices that make this book are equal to the first one.As a regular reader of the Houghton-Mifflin Best American Short Stories annual, I have come to accept that what makes a great collection is a great editor.If you want to see what I mean, look at Anne Beattie's volume, or John Updike's, or John Gardner's; these editors know what makes a story great. The same is true of Anne Tyler, and in each of these stories we see what makes her writing remarkable: development of engaging characters.The primary focus in all of these stories is on character, but you will also find that these stories appeal to us on a human interest level and as lovers of writing.If you are interested in reading and/or writing good fiction, this is a book to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Short Stories at their best
This is the best collection of short stories I've read in recent memory. Two favorites are "The Birds for Christmas," by Mark Richard and "The Rain of Terror" by Frank Manley, but almost all typify thefinest in short story writing today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Every story is a gem
I love this book and I find myself dipping back into it over and over for some favorites ("Charlotte" by Tony Earley is a classic).I took the book on my honeymoon and it is part of the reason why I remember that as such a wonderful time.There really is something here for everybody: memorable characters, quiet and not-so-quiet human drama, and -- that gorgeous language!A must-have for fans of Southern fiction. ... Read more

16. Saint Maybe
by Anne Tyler
Paperback: 352 Pages (1996-08-27)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449911608
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list!

"A novel that attests once again to Ms. Tyler's enormous gifts as a writer."

"Captivating . . . . Compelling . . . . There is a kind of magic at work in this novel."

In 1965, the happy Bedloe family is living an ideal, apple-pie existence in Baltimore.Then, in the blink of an eye, a single tragic event occurs that will transform their lives forever--particularly that of seventeen-year-old Ian Bedloe, the youngest son, who blames himself for the sudden "accidental" death of his older brother.

Depressed and depleted, Ian is almost crushed under the weight of an unbearable, secret guilt.Then one crisp January evening, he catches sight of a window with glowing yellow neon, the CHURCH OF THE SECOND CHANCE.He enters and soon discovers that forgiveness must be earned, through a bit of sacrifice and a lot of love...

A New York Times Notable BookAmazon.com Review
Tyler makes things look so easy that she never gets enoughcredit, yet she portrays everyday Americans with such humor, graceand, ultimately, emotional force that her books are always deeplysatisfying. In Saint Maybe her protagonist Ian Bedloe, strickenwith guilt over the death of his older brother, raises three childrenunrelated to him by blood. He is strengthened in this Herculean taskby the storefront Church of the Second Chance, to which he devoteshimself with equal fervor. Someone once said all great writers arecomic writers. Among living Americans, Tyler is exhibit A. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (72)

4-0 out of 5 stars St. Maybe
This is the story of a fairly normal family that is shaken by tragic events, and how they cope and carry on, despite their disillusionment with life.It is essentially the story of an average teenager who does something extraordinary in an effort to secure redemption and to take care of orphaned children.

I enjoyed the book very much.She doesn't spell everything out, so its purpose is very much subject to interpretation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Words fail me - really
My favourite author whom I only discovered in the past year. What a gift Anne Tyler has and is to us book lovers! It is really hard to find words to adequately describe the experience of reading this book. As another reviewer says it plumbs the depths of so much - family, religion, God, human frailty - and beauty - and heroism, fragility of life, how you never get your just desserts - Ian sacrifices his life really for the children and they don't necessarily feel undying love and Anne Tyler shows how even their devotion can fade, although love remains. It reminds me of a quote I heard (in church):

Through God's Grace we get what we don't deserve - through God's mercy we don't get what we do deserve.

I am forever changed and I think bettered by the experience of this book - no higher praise.

Anne - thank you!!

3-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but what a letdown
The premise was good.The first chapters were very scintillating, and Tyler did not go into excruciating descriptions of minutiae (I read Ladder of Years some time ago, and what a drag that was).The novel petered along fairly well, but the last couple of chapters read like any cheap romance novel found at a 7-11. The sappy ending ruined the book for me.

4-0 out of 5 stars Sad story with a happy and satisfying ending
If there is a lesson to be learned from Anne Tyler's Saint Maybe,it may be that the most horrific tragedies may have unintentended, good, consequences.This is true not because bad things are good, but because people can make good lives out of all kinds of disasters.It is also because doing the right thing can enrich the very people who have made the greatest sacrifice.

In Saint Maybe, Ian, a teenage college student makes a terrible mistake, the kind of mistake that has consequences for his whole family.He atones for this mistake and dedicates his life to taking care of those people his mistake hurt most--the children of his dead sister-in-law.Most of Saint Maybe focuses on Ian's life, his discovery of God and the family that he and his parents make with these children.The situation is dire.Ian's parents find that their later years are far different from what they expected.The children adjust slowly, as does everyone.

But over time they become a real family and, as awful as the initial years are, the children, Ian and his parents take up their lives again, sharing the good and the bad.Ian grows up and as he becomes an adult we see his limitations so clearly that we wonder, what would he have been like without this disaster? Though Ian has been marked by tragedy--he may have turned out to have a life no happier than the one he has.For these children, dispite the sacrifice they require, bring the kind of love that all children bring.Ian's life is richer for them and their lives are richer for living with Ian and his parents.

I liked this book very much.Ian's parents don't want to do the right thing, but like Ian, they do.In the end Ian gets a good life--because he's a good person.Saint Maybe is not always an easy book to read, but its a satisfying one, and the happy ending is richly deserved.

4-0 out of 5 stars RL review Saint Maybe
A reading group at my church read and reviewed this book and found it to be very good and enlighten.I enjoyed the Saint Maybe very much. ... Read more

17. Timothy Tugbottom Says No!
by Anne Tyler
Hardcover: 32 Pages (2005-09-08)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$9.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0399242554
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Timothy Tugbottom knows what he likes—and he definitely does not likedifferent. Blueberry muffins for breakfast? A new book at bedtime? Abrand-new big-boy bed? No thank you, not for him. He’s perfectly happywith his favorite cereal and his alphabet book—not to mention the warm,safe crib he’s been sleeping in his whole life. Although he has to admit hiscrib isn’t quite as comfortable as it used to be. . . .

... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Grandkids love this book
Our grand kids love this book and it has been read many times to them. It helps with two year olds that always hear or want to say no to everything or don't want to try things.

5-0 out of 5 stars A helpful story for children who are resistant to change
This book rested on the bookshelf in the therapeutic playroom at a special education preschool where I counseled. A particularly stubborn 4 year old child noticed it one day, and he intuitively took it off of the shelf and asked me to read it. This child normally had difficulty maintaining a conversation, and especially discussing emotions.

As we read the book, he was eager to talk about Timothy's feelings, ask questions about his motivations, and make sure that I read every word. He would flip back to pages he could particularly identify with (for instance, Timothy's expression of anger when he knocks blocks over in the illustration). He clearly identified with Timothy, and as we read it he became more relaxed and expressive. It became his ritual to request this book prior to engaging in any other play, but the repetitive nature was therapeutic rather than obsessive, because each time we read it, he softened a bit more. He was slowly addressing his strong resistance to change, on terms that were comforting and acceptable to him, and after we read it he would often accept new play suggestions or select a toy other than his preferred trains (this was huge for him).

Eventually he didn't need to read the book each session, only to reference it or point at it. Sometimes when he resisted something or said "no" during our play interactions he would pause, look me in the eye and say "Timothy Tugbottom says no?" then change his behavior, soften his attitude or smile knowingly and say "Timothy Tugbottom doesn't like new things!" and he would immediately feel better. The only thing I needed to do throughout this process was read, listen, answer his questions, and acknowledge his emotions when he did choose to express them.

There is no judgment of Timothy's resistance to change in this book, there are no serious power struggles between parent and child, there is only an account of a child who is afraid of and resistant to change, and then overcomes that on his terms. The book may seem to simplify things too much for some people's taste, and Timothy's change of heart might seem too quick to some readers--but I think it just serves to show children that they can and will have a change of heart in their own time, when they feel safe enough. It also lets a child know that embracing the change may even feel good.

Sometimes all it takes for a child to accept a small change is to have their feelings validated by finding another child (or a character in a book) that they can identify with.I highly recommend this book for parents, teachers or therapists who would like to help children come to this realization themselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fresh version of a familiar story!
Timothy is an appealing and all too familiar protagonist to many people who know children.Resistant to change of any kind, he rejects any well-meant attempts to vary his menu, his wardrobe, his routine.Anne Tyler carefully paces his gradual awakening in this believable and satisfying tale.Mitra Modarressi's illustrations are wittily enchanting. ... Read more

18. Anne Tyler: A New Collection:Three Complete Novels: The Accidental Tourist; Breathing Lessons; Searching for Caleb
by Anne Tyler
Hardcover: 696 Pages (1991-08-28)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$13.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0517064596
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Love Battles with Reality in Humorous Ways
Most people love a lover. Also, most of us would like more love in our lives. If you read nonfiction books on the subject, they tell you to be more loving to others to receive more love in return. But most of us feel frustrated in that quest. What would it be like to pursue love in a more unrestricted way? That's the subject of Breathing Lessons.

Now, this could be a pretty heavy subject so Ms. Tyler wisely chooses to leaven her lessons with humor. Her protagonist, Maggie Morgan, will remind many of other fictional characters beginning with the lovable red head, Lucy Ricardo, in I Love Lucy. Those who have Dreamed the Impossible Dream while watching Man of La Mancha (or while reading Don Quixote) will recognize elements of Don Quixote in her character. The humor plays the same role that the fools play in Shakespeare's tragedies, to lighten the atmosphere from profoundly sad situations.

Maggie is a klutz who doesn't let her klutziness stop her. She's a one-woman pile driver intent on her purposes of spreading love and connection among all she meets. Her husband, Ira, plays the foil (the Desi Ricardo/Sancho Panza role) to help us know what the real situation is. Ira is almost all reason while Maggie is almost all love. You will find Ira to be interesting for examples of how reason needs to accommodate love.

Breathing Lessons shows a typical day for Maggie and Ira in an atypical environment . . . while on an out-of-town trip on a Saturday for a memorial service for the husband of Maggie's old friend. That environment turns the day into a quest (like Don Quixote) and they meet many interesting characters on whom Maggie has an unforgettable impact.

Many will look for a heroic ending featuring accomplishment. But did Don Quixote have such an ending? Ms. Tyler redefines heroism in terms of continuing to love and hope for the best . . . even when everything crumbles into dust. I think anyone will be inspired by the example of Maggie to do the right thing.

As you probably know, this book won a Pulitzer Prize which it certainly deserved. Seldom has a book created such a new an ennobling expression of human potential in the context of our all-too-human tendency to err.

Many will find Maggie's klutziness to be overdone . . . and possibly annoying. I, too, found it a little overdone, but enjoyed the book nevertheless. Ms. Tyler doesn't want us to miss the point that we should make the most of our talents . . . however modest or great they are.

Nice job, Ms. Tyler! ... Read more

19. Moving On: The Heroines of Shirley Ann Grau, Anne Tyler, and Gail Godwin
by Susan S. Kissel
Paperback: 244 Pages (1996-01-01)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$9.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0879727128
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Focusing on the works of Grau, Tyler, and Godwin, Susan S. Kissel shows how these writers portray their white southern women protagonists as “moving on,” with their heroines not only renouncing southern patriarchal tradition but actually establishing independent lives and caring communities. These authors are beginning to close the gap that has existed between themselves and black Southern women writers, whose protagonists have long shown that the strength and independence of female maturity must be synonymous with complete character development.
... Read more

20. Noah s Compass
by Anne Tyler
Perfect Paperback: 292 Pages

Isbn: 0345523954
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (111)

4-0 out of 5 stars Man wakes up briefly
Liam is sleepwalking through life.He has a rude awakening, becomes aware of the power of romantic love, but cannot resist the power of past family troubles and the fact of his shrinking future.

5-0 out of 5 stars Holly
This is poignant and funny story about a man trying to adjust to his senior years and also to connect with his family members when everyone has issues.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Observer
I don't think I have ever seen such divergent reviews on a popular book.Noah's Compass is a quiet story about a sixty year old man, who, like Noah, needs no compass because he is going nowhere. At this late date I won't retell the story.In this case the tale is not the "thing"; it is in the telling.Liam, the protagonist, is an unsuccessful philosopher, not sure how one determines success in the field of philosophy.He goes from studying, to teaching at a prestigious private school, to teaching history in an elementary school.This, until he was "surplused" despite longevity in the job. He is a widower, divorced, estranged from his 3 daughters, and his sister. He is a stoical man.

The writing is unobtrusive, and smooth.It is a beautifully written book.When you close the book you feel you know the people.You sat in the old kitchen and visited Eunice's living room.I think that one either "gets" this book, is moved by it, or, isn't. I loved the book and the people and was pleased with the ending.

5-0 out of 5 stars I Love Anne Tyler!
If she called up right now and asked to come stay in my guest room, I would not hesitate to say a resounding, "Yes!"
I wouldn't feel I had to clean, cook, buy new sheets or rearrange my schedule.Instead, I would relax, knowing that she would see all my flaws as lovable quirks and all my bad tempered moments as evidence of my humanity. She should be required reading for all of us so that we could see one another with greater understanding and tolerance.

Self-improvement aside, her books are just plain fun to read. Here's a pre-school group at nap time: "They conked out at once, exhausted from the passions of the morning." That's the sort of Tylerism that quickly becomes a household phrase in our family.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Rare Misstep
Anne Tyler has been writing beautifully observed, carefully detailed novels about the people of Baltimore for over 25 years.I have read and loved most of them.That affection makes the news that her latest is a disappointment all the more crushing.Her descriptions are as sharp as ever, but the wholly unconvincing plot, which centers around an unbelievable attack as catalyst for a life-change in a 60-year-old man and the completely unlikely romance that life-change causes."Unbelievable" and "unlikely" can be positive, but unfortunately in this case they just mean what they say they mean.It feels like leftover characters from her previous novels are sleepwalking through this tiny tale and although it has moments of the clarity and insight I've come to expect from her for over two decades, they are only moments.Sad, sad news indeed. ... Read more

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