Friday, March 01, 2013

'The Beginners Goodbye' by Anne Tyler

1 March 2013

It's always a pleasure to get your hands on a new novel by Anne Tyler - one of my favourite authors. Her gentle, amusing and moving Baltimore tales of ordinary people flirting with live-changing events wear their cleverness lightly and manage to be both enjoyable and thought-provoking. I've just finished reading Anne Tyler's latest novel 'The Beginners Goodbye' (which I read as an unabridged audio book, narrated by Kirby Heybourne). 'The Beginners Goodbye' is familiar Anne Tyler territory - suburban Baltimore life, polite but strained family relationships and a quirky small business - but it's a very sad book dealing with grief at the loss of a spouse. As with Anne Tyler's previous novel 'Noah's Compass' (reviewed here in May 2010) I got the impression she was rewriting 'The Accidental Tourist'. There are some strong parallels between the two books with the male narrator left alone, moving back to his family home with eccentric sibling(s) and making his living from publishing a series of guidebooks. As with 'Noah's Compass', 'The Beginners Goodbye' feels like a more mature work than 'The Accidental Tourist' but this time I yearned for more light-relief. There is humour and the usual lightness of touch but I missed the comic set pieces of some of her earlier novels.



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