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The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye (2012)

by Anne Tyler

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981758,763 (3.65)76
  1. 00
    The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst (LynnB)
    LynnB: Both stories are about a man dealing with his wife's death in ways most people would deem crazy.

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Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Anne Tyler is such a superb writer. She ably expresses the thought and emotions of the "every day"person. ( )
  kimkimkim | Aug 21, 2017 |

Funny, touching, and quirky. If you're an Anne Tyler fan you'll enjoy it. This is a short book, easy to finish in an afternoon. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
This was an okay book. Isn't what I normally read. When I first started reading I thought about quitting wondering why I was even bothering with it. But then it got better. I had a hard time with the age of the main character. I think he was in his 30s but he seemed like he was in his 60s. Maybe it was depression that was coming off him but not mentioned. Or maybe just the way he treated people. The book is mainly about someone going through grief of the loss of a spouse and the subtle way he copes with it. People cope in different ways and this is the way he coped. Might not have been what I wanted to read at the time but since I got it from the library I needed to finish it. ( )
  MHanover10 | Jul 10, 2016 |
I get it. Apparently not everyone does, according to the comments in the reviews. But no matter what the blurb says, or what you-all say, I did not find it subtle. Maybe compared to Berg or Picoult? I dunno. Anyway, it's a good lesson (set of lessons), concisely & charmingly told.

Oh, but I gotta say one thing. Calling the narrator a jerk is really taking it too far. He doesn't have the best social skills in the world, or, he's abrasive, or prickly. But how could so many nice ppl care about him so much if he were really a jerk? By disliking him that much, you're dissing the judgement of his wife and friends.

I always enjoy Tyler's work, but I never feel the urge to complete her oeuvre. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I have been an Anne Tyler avid reader since the 80's. I have always enjoyed her ability to writer realistic characters who have moral dilemmas that they somehow manage to transcend, usually in a quirky manner.

With The Beginner's Goodbye, I have to admit that I almost stopped listening (it was, obviously, an audiobook) with the first chapter. Perhaps my willingness was dampened by a review I had read somewhere online or by the attitude of the narrator or the feeling of being disconnected. The feeling, regardless of where it originated, felt as if it would be very difficult to surmount, and, yet, here I am, telling you about a 4 star review.

At some point, perhaps after the first quarter of the book, I felt the story that Anne Tyler might be telling. Her hero was not likeable in the way that previous heroes had been. In fact, it wasn't until the last couple of chapters that I could find anything within him/myself-reacting-to-him, that I might call likeable.

In many ways, this book was like peeling an onion. There were so many layers and so many truths that you had to wade/peel through to get to what was real/true.

I was satisfied with the ending, even if, for a moment, it seemed as if Tyler might verge onto an unanticipated path, but she didn't. Perhaps I have read enough of her books to know where this outcome might go, and she didn't disappoint me here.

This is not an outstanding Tyler effort, but it is good. You just need to get several chapters in. And this is why I frown when people say they will only give a book 20 pages. I think they have a low tolerance level. Sometimes you have to wait for the good stuff. ( )
  SaschaD | Apr 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Embarking on an Anne Tyler novel is like heading off on vacation to a favorite destination: You're filled with anticipation of pleasure, even though you know the place is likely to have changed since your last visit.

The Beginner's Goodbye, Tyler's 19th novel, fulfills that dual craving for familiarity and freshness. Its focus is loss and recovery, grief and growth....
This is not a dramatic transformation but a slow, hard-won realisation that comes with time and constant picking-over the same problem. For the essentially optimistic Tyler, this process allows for rejuvenation and the opportunity for a second chance. For Tyler's many fans, her latest work won't disappoint.
The Beginner's Goodbye," Tyler's 19th novel, features all of these things and more — there is a ghost — and less; just over 200 pages, it is, both in literal weight and narrative complexity, lighter than most of the Tyler canon. Which should not be construed as "less," at least not in the pejorative sense of the word. In many ways, "Goodbye" feels like the center slice of an Anne Tyler novel, a distillation.... The wonder of Anne Tyler is how consistently clear-eyed and truthful she remains about the nature of families and especially marriage.
All of this Tyler understands, tackling Aaron’s sudden loss with characteristic warmth, sympathy and wisdom. As in all her books – and this is one of her great strengths – male and female characters are equally well drawn.

Perhaps the chief constituent of grief is regret: regret for the unkind word, the unexpressed affection, the small opportunities missed. To say that Tyler writes about regret would be like saying that Anton Chekhov writes about boredom: true, but inadequate. Without melodrama but always with compassion, as well as outstanding insight and gentle humour, regret is the abiding theme of her fiction. This makes her especially popular with readers over the age of 35, who are old enough to have started accumulating regrets of their own.
Ms. Tyler’s tepid new novel, “The Beginner’s Goodbye,” doggedly follows this formula, adding a supernatural twist seemingly borrowed from old movies like “Topper” or “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.”...The problem is that the reader couldn’t care less. Whereas Ms. Tyler’s most powerful work has been animated by an intimate knowledge of her characters’ inner lives — sympathy that lofted us up over whatever was clichéd or cloying about their stories — the people in “The Beginner’s Goodbye” are irritating stick figures, insipid and emotionally uptight. .....As the title of “The Beginner’s Goodbye” suggests, Dorothy’s spectral visits are supposed to help Aaron learn to come to terms with her death — and with the imperfections of their marriage — so that he might move on with his life. It’s a trite and predictable lesson from what is arguably this talented author’s tritest and most predictable novel.
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The strangest thing about my wife's return from the dead was how other people reacted.
En wat zou ze hebben gelachen om al die ovenschotels! Dat was een van de ergste dingen als je je vrouw verloor, merkte ik: je vrouw is nu net degene met wie je dat allemaal wilt bespreken.
En toch kreeg ik nog maar twee avonden later zo'n droomachtige gedachte die langsdrijft als je net in slaap valt. Hé, Dorothy heeft al een poosje niet meer gebeld, dacht ik.
Toen we pas getrouwd waren belde ze me vaak vanuit haar praktijk, zomaar om even te kletsen en te horen hoe het met mijn werk ging. Dus de wittebroodsweken waren blijkbaar afhelopen. Heel even vond ik dat jammer, al wist ik dat het de normale gang van zaken was.
Maar toen werd ik opeens klaarwakker en dacht: o. Ze is dood. En het was nog niets gemakkelijker dan in het allereerste begin. Ik kan dit niet, dacht ik. Ik zou niet weten hoe. Hier geven ze geen cursussen voor. Dit heb ik nooit geleerd. Eigenlijk was ik nog geen stap verder
That was one of the worst things about losing your wife, I found: your wife is the very person you want to discuss it all with.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307957276, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: "The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted." So begins Anne Tyler's new novel, which documents the days of Aaron Woolcott after the unexpected loss of his wife, Dorothy. And as arresting as the first sentence is, it's also a bit worrying. So many clichés could follow. Will Aaron resolve his grief through poetic moonlit walks with the apparition of his lost wife? Thankfully, this is Anne Tyler. And the ghost of Dorothy, like all Tyler's characters, has a kind of rich, eccentric depth that sits opposite to the expected. Aaron's recovery after his wife's death conveys all the subtle hallmarks of Tyler's style, where a flawed man must learn how to do a very difficult thing--say a final goodbye. --Ben Moebius

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances-- in their house, on the roadway, in the markets ... Only Dorothy's unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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