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A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler
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A Patchwork Planet (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Anne Tyler

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2,012413,335 (3.72)61
Member:witchyrichy
Title:A Patchwork Planet
Authors:Anne Tyler
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1998), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 287 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Read in 2012

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A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler (1998)

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» See also 61 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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 ...
  waltonlibrary | Jan 27, 2016 |
Beautiful observations, gentle, wry humour, and some pathos in this typical Tyler novel.

Barnaby has grown out of his wild teenage years, helped by the trust of his grandfather, and now works for a company that does odd jobs for the elderly. His wife has left him, and he finds his family stressful.

When he meets the organised, trustworthy and attractive Sophia, he feels as if she is some kind of angel, sent to turn him into a worthy human being who will fit in better with other people.

There's not much more plot than that; the enjoyment of the book is in Barnaby's observations and musings. The story is told in the first person from his perspective. I did find the ending slightly inconclusive, as one does with Anne Tyler's books. I also found some of the reflections on the inevitability of old age to be rather depressing. But overall, I thought it a very good book. Recommended. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
I consider this novel an easy, undemanding read. Once again this writer evokes vivid characters through the use of dialogue. ( )
  HelenBaker | Jan 17, 2016 |
Thirty-year-old Barnaby Gaitlin has spent most of his life so far failing to live up to his family's high standards. Instead going to an Ivy League school and working for his family's charitable foundation, he got sent to a reform school for wealthy boys and does manual labor for a company called Rent-a-Back, where he helps his elderly clients with any tasks they can no longer handle themselves. When he meets Sophia on a train, she changes his life in ways that no one, including the reader, could imagine.

Anne Tyler's books can be hit-or-miss. I didn't have to get very far into this one before I knew it was going to be really good. There are so many different layers to the characters and the themes that I can't even begin to touch them all. Every single one of the characters in the book has flaws, is carrying some kind of burden, and makes mistakes, and yet you do get the sense that they're all trying as hard as they can to cope with what life has given them. The characters come across as very real people. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant is still my favorite Tyler book, but this one comes in at a close second. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
thanks bookcrossing for expanding my horizons - I'd never have picked this up on my own, but I'm sure glad BC caused it to come into my hands - charming, insightful, a quick read but the ideas will stay with you...
( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
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Anne Tylerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mossel, BabetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In loving memory of my husband, Taghi Modarressi
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I am a man you can trust, is how my customers view me.
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Back in Baltimore’s golden age, when the streetcars were still running and downtown was still the place to go and we had four top-notch department stores all on the same one block: Hutzler’s, Hochschild’s, Stewart’s, and Hecht’s... (Rent-A-Back client)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449003981, Paperback)

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 himself is sharp and impatient at painful--and painfully funny--family dinners, apparently unable to keep his finger off the auto-self-destruct button every time his life improves. As much as his superb creator, he is a poet of disappointment, resignation, and minute transformation. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A lovable loser tries to get his life in order. He is Barnaby Gaitlin, 30, the black sheep of a rich Baltimore family, ex-juvenile delinquent who specialized in housebreaking for kicks. He works for Rent-a-Back, moving furniture for old people, and dreams of having a future.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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