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Clock Dance (2018)

by Anne Tyler

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9626216,122 (3.77)33
Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother's sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother, yet the prospect is dimming. So, when Willa receives a phone call from a stranger, telling her that her son's ex-girlfriend has been shot, she drops everything and flies across the country to Baltimore. The impulsive decision to look after this woman and her nine-year-old daughter will lead Willa into uncharted territory--surrounded by eccentric neighbors, plunged into the rituals that make a community a family, and forced to find solace in unexpected places.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
I've only read one other Anne Tyler book (Breathing Lessons) and that's been ages ago. I really enjoyed it, so I'm not sure why I've never read any of her others. My tastes in books and her writing style and subject matter are spot on. Dysfunctional families, relationships, timid characters trying to find their voice - set in small town America - wow, it's like I'm reading about my own life. :) Seriously, I thoroughly enjoyed Clock Dance and cheered at the end. If you're looking for a good, quick read this is a good one.

Note to NC readers - the author grew up in Raleigh, NC and went to Duke. Nice to have that connection of growing up in a small town, although the one I grew up in makes Raleigh look like NYC! ( )
  3CatMom | Jan 20, 2021 |
Anne Tyler gets 5 stars all the time from me. This one was particularly funny and frustrating which is what she does to show a growth in her characters. Her characters are memorable and she paints detailed portraits that seem so familiar. Her books are like returning to an old friend who has new stories. ( )
  FurbyKirby | Jan 5, 2021 |
A nice character study of an older lady finding her self but the characters seemed to lack depth and complexity. ( )
  snash | Dec 11, 2020 |
3.5. I love the story, but it felt unfinished in many ways. I get that the title/theme "clock dance" - time flying was part of it. Willa, the main character talks about her version of a clock dance: "If Willa were to invent a clock dance, it wouldn't look like the one the three little girls had shown her. No, hers would feature a woman racing across the stage from left to right, all the while madly whirling so that the audience saw only a spinning blur of color before she vanished in the wings, pouf! Just like that. Gone." p.274 The story advances in 10 and 20 year increments from Willa's damaged childhood with a erratic mother and an enabling father, to a challenged marriage to which she subverted her personal dreams, to middle-age with regrets, but also redemption. Willa has been randomly phoned to care for her adult son's ex-girlfriend, Denise and her preteen daughter Cheryl and though Willa has never met them, she and her husband Peter answer the call to help and fly from their home in AZ to Baltimore. Willa takes to the job more willingly and open-mindedly than peevish Peter, but she relishes being needed and being able to help. She fits into the neighborhood nicely, befriending all the usual Tyler-type misfits that make up a make-shift family. Her son, Sean, the link to this group, has moved on, and that doesn't include her, so Willa finds her niche and enjoys the dynamic. Meanwhile, Peter who is not so open-hearted, flies back to AZ on his own and they become a long-distance couple if not estranged. Willa needs to stand on her own feet at last and make choices for herself and the ending is a little obscure to this end. There are also unresolved issues with her sister that could've been developed. Overall, the book felt like it skimmed along the surface, touching down here and there but never going for depth. ( )
  CarrieWuj | Oct 24, 2020 |
Not fair of course but I gave this audiobook 10 minutes. I don't like this style of narration, cute and folksy, and the story didn't get off to a propitious start.
  Okies | Oct 10, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
The Baltimore author’s 22nd book has familiar comforts, but lacks narrative drive
 
More predictable and less profound than her most recent full-scale work (the magical A Spool of Blue Thread, 2015), but Tyler’s characteristic warmth and affection for her characters are as engaging as ever.
added by M_olloy | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 10, 2018)
 
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Willa Drake and Sonya Bailey were selling candy bars door-to-door.
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Later, crossing the upstairs hall with a basket of laundry, Willa glanced into Cheryl's room to see what they were up to.  Patty stood facing her, both arms extended from her sides with Laurie and Cheryl directly behind her.  All that showed of Laurie and Cheryl were their own arms, extended too so that Patty seemed to possess six arms, all six moving in stiff, stop-and-start arcs in time to the clicking sounds that Willa could hear now punctuating the music.  "It's a clock dance!" Cheryl shouted, briefly peeking out from the tail end.  "Can't you tell?"
If Willa were to invent a clock dance, it wouldn't look like the one the three little girls had shown her.  No, hers would feature a woman racing across the stage from left to right, all the while madly whirling so that the audience saw only a spinning blur of color before she vanished into the wings, pouf!  Just like that.  Gone
"But sometimes it feels so repetitive.  You know?  Like when I'm getting dressed, I'll think, These same old, same old colors; I wish I had some new ones.  But there aren't any new ones, anywhere on earth..."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother's sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother, yet the prospect is dimming. So, when Willa receives a phone call from a stranger, telling her that her son's ex-girlfriend has been shot, she drops everything and flies across the country to Baltimore. The impulsive decision to look after this woman and her nine-year-old daughter will lead Willa into uncharted territory--surrounded by eccentric neighbors, plunged into the rituals that make a community a family, and forced to find solace in unexpected places.

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A charming new novel of self-discovery and second chances from the best-selling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Spool of Blue Thread.

Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. A bewitching novel of hope and transformation, Clock Dance gives us Anne Tyler at the height of her powers.
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