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Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

by Anne Tyler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,015541,891 (3.46)92
Recently added bybackyard, private library, jgtarwater, steveratty, lauriehill, cctesttc1
  1. 00
    Random Harvest by James Hilton (BonnieJune54)
    BonnieJune54: Both main characters explore what their lives would have been if they had taken a different fork in the road.
  2. 00
    Solomon's Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson (terran)
    terran: Both involve hosting parties, catering, and family relationships.
  3. 00
    Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler (glajohnson)
    glajohnson: I really liked the main character in this book. I love that she was an overweight, middle-aged woman who was still trying to decide who she was. I think it was interesting for her to explore the "what if" of her college fiance and the life she might have had with him. I liked the way her thought processes changed throughout the book until she realizes that the way she was in college was not the true self that she thought it was.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
weak novel

‘Once upon a time,’ the story begins, ‘there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.’ . . . With Rebecca Davitch, Tyler has created a character who is brave enough to look back on her life and to imagine herself making different kinds of choices. Brave enough to wonder what honesty looks like, whether there is ever really a single distillation of self that is unshakable and true.
  christinejoseph | Sep 28, 2016 |
Rebecca Davitch married young to an older man with three daughters. When he died 6 years later, she took over the family business of hosting parties. Now the 3 stepdaughters and her daughter are grown, and Rebecca is keeping the business going and caring for her late husband's 99 year old uncle. She begins to wonder if this life, so different from what she expected, is what she was truly meant for. ( )
  lilibrarian | Aug 30, 2016 |
This is typical Anne Tyler, at her best! A lot of introspection, and clever characterisation with wry observations of everyday life. The style is easy to read, yet surprisingly thought-provoking, and the people in the book stayed around in my mind for a day or two afterwards. Very enjoyable. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
This is a character study of Recbecca Davitch. While still a teenager she walked away from her long-term boyfriend and married Joe Davitch, a divorcee with three young girls, two weeks later. The Davitches are an eccentric bunch, and Beck soon finds herself in charge of the family business (they host parties in their old Victorian house) by default. Joe dies six years later, and Beck spends her life raising the children, taking care of aging relatives, and being the life of every party. Thirty-some years later she starts wondering whether she took the right path in life.

As always, Tyler's characters are wonderful. They are so quirky that you shouldn't believe they really exist, but somehow, she makes them believable. The funny and the serious are blended together seamlessly, sometimes in the same sentence. I love Tyler's novels and recommend them to anyone who hasn't tried her. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Eh. Was reading because I didn't have anything else. It's back on the shelf -- maybe I'll pick it up again at some point.
  emblue | Jan 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anne Tylerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Mossel, BabetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345477243, Mass Market Paperback)

The first sentence of Anne Tyler's 15th novel sounds like something out of a fairy tale: "Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person." Alas, this discovery has less to do with magic than with a late-middle-age crisis, which is visited upon Rebecca Davitch in the opening pages of Back When We Were Grownups. At 53, this perpetually agreeable widow is "wide and soft and dimpled, with two short wings of dry, fair hair flaring almost horizontally from a center part." Given her role as the matriarch of a large family--and the proprietress of a party-and-catering concern, the Open Arms--Rebecca is both personally and professionally inclined toward jollity. But at an engagement bash for one of her multiple stepdaughters, she finds herself questioning everything about her life: "How on earth did I get like this? How? How did I ever become this person who's not really me?"

She spends the rest of the novel attempting to answer these questions--and trying to resurrect her older, extinguished self. Should she take up the research she began back in college on Robert E. Lee's motivation for joining the Confederacy? More to the point, should she take up with her college sweetheart, who's now divorced and living within easy striking range? None of these quick fixes pans out exactly as Rebecca imagines. What she emerges with is a kind of radiant resignation, best expressed by 100-year-old Poppy on his birthday: "There is no true life. Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be." A tautology, perhaps, but Tyler's delicate, densely populated novel makes it stick.

Yes, Poppy. There are also characters named NoNo, Biddy, and Min Foo--the sort of saccharine roll call that might send many a reader scampering in the opposite direction. But Tyler knows exactly how to mingle the sweet with the sour, and in Back When We Were Grownups she manages this balancing act like the old pro she is. Even the familiar backdrop--shabby-genteel Baltimore, which resembles a virtual game preserve of Tylerian eccentrics--seems freshly observed. Can any human being really resist this novel? It is, to quote Rebecca, "a report on what it was like to be alive," and an appealingly accurate one to boot. --James Marcus

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:03 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Years after Rebecca lost her husband in a car accident she asks heself whether she is an imposter in her own life. Is she really this natural-born celebrator, joyous and outgoing. What would have happened if she had married her blond college sweetheart, Will, back when they were so young and so serious and so sure of everything? Can one ever recover the person left behind - and would one even like them?… (more)

» see all 7 descriptions

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