Anne Tyler is known for her novels featuring quirky characters struggling with close relationships. She writes with humor and sympathy about imperfect people making tentative steps towards their goals. Her novels are primarily set in Baltimore and focus on the everyday lives of people experiencing challenges in dealing with friends and family. Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for "Breathing Lessons." Some of her other popular novels illustrate her talent for great titles: "The Accidental Tourist," "Digging to America," and "Back When We Were Grownups."
Tyler's nineteenth novel "The Beginner's Goodbye" accentuates her individual writing style. The novel centers on Aaron who has recently lost his wife when a large tree fell on their house. His story is told through his recollection of life with his late wife Dorothy and the first year after her death.
As Aaron's story slowly unfolds, readers learn that he is somewhat prickly about accepting help. He has lived with a crippled right arm and leg since childhood. He walks with a cane and is quick to assert that he gets along just fine. Aaron's overwhelming desire to do for himself leads him to consistently squelch any possible kindnesses offered to him, which naturally causes some discomfort in his personal life. As a recent widower with a house crushed by a tree, Aaron faces the ordeal (for him) of friends and family eager to help.
Learning to live without Dorothy is a difficult and bewildering task. After almost a year of living on his own, Aaron begins to see Dorothy. She appears at his side when he is walking, shopping, or just sitting. Aaron finds himself looking for her everywhere. When she does appear, Aaron is able to see her more clearly than when she was alive. By noticing what it feels like to be with her again, he learns more about Dorothy and the peculiarities of their relationship.
Aaron's strange journey through grief and loss teaches him not only how to say goodbye but also how to live in better harmony with others. Anne Tyler's many fans will be pleased with "The Beginner's Goodbye." Once again she presents a charming story of the promise and difficulty of everyday life.
--Jennifer A., Headquarters