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Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler

Earthly Possessions (1977)

by Anne Tyler

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Vintage Tyler. A woman's plan to leave her family is hijacked into a different sort of leave-taking. An amusing road trip ensues, whose story alternates with her reflections of an odd upbringing and discontented marriage. Tyler has a way of finding redemption among the carnage of humanity. I enjoyed this fine, but I am interested next in trying a more contemporary novel of hers. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Apr 16, 2016 |
Charlotte, who narrates this story, is about to leave her husband. As she waits in line at the bank to withdraw some cash, she gets caught up in an armed bank raid and is then taken hostage by the robber, whose name is Jake.

In typical Anne Tyler style, Charlotte and Jake then spend the rest of the book driving to Florida. Alternating chapters tell us what's happening, and snippets from Charlotte's past, right back to her childhood. Through their conversations, actions and the flashbacks we learn a surprising amount about both of them, and eventually discover the reason why Jake was attempting to rob the bank.

This author always provides wonderful observations and pithy comments in her book, making them very enjoyable to read at the time, although I don't find that the stories tend to stick with me very long. The people, particularly the minor characters, are rather caricatured but in the slightly surreal setting of the book that doesn't matter much. I found myself engrossed as I read, and only disappointed that the ending seemed to happen rather too suddenly. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
An early Anne Tyler title that I must of missed! As always, pleasantly quirky :-) ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
Charlotte Emory has never really felt connected to anything in her life. Her mother had no idea she was pregnant until she went to the hospital with stomach pain and discovered she was in labor. Her parents were also convinced that they were given the wrong child to take home from the hospital, although they assured Charlotte that they loved her anyway. Just as she's finally getting ready to leave her home forever and go off to college, her father becomes ill, and she has to return home to care for him. She never gets a chance to leave again. Her father's illness is drawn out, then she has to care for her mother who cannot cope with his death, then she marries one of the boys next door for lack of anything better to do, he feels called to become a preacher and keeps bringing people with no where else to go to their house, and she ends up with two children. She wanders through this life aimless and unhappy until the day that she finally decides to leave for good. When she stops by the bank to get some money, an inept bank robber takes her hostage and refuses to let her leave as he travels from Maryland to Florida.

Anne Tyler really does character development well. Her characters are so quirky that it's hard to believe they're real, but somehow, she always makes it work. I have two minor complaints about this novel, though. The chapters alternate between Charlotte's present with on the run with the bank robber and her past life from birth to the present. I think that format works fairly well because you don't find out too much too quickly, but at the same time, it bugged me that just as I was getting into the plot, the chapter would end and I'd have to switch gears. I also felt like something was missing from the ending. I'm not sure everything really came together tightly enough for me to be able to get the point of the whole thing. These are just minor issues, however, and I really did enjoy this novel. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
This is a super quick read. The fact that it was a made-for-television movie back in the 90s should tell you something: really good but without prolonged drama; couldn't make it to the big screen. Here's the quick and dirty of the plot: Charlotte Emory is at the bank, waiting to clean out her savings so she can run away from her married life. She's the bored housewife of a boring preacher. While waiting to change her whole life, suddenly it is changed for her. She gets caught up in a robbery and is taken hostage. Since her captor is practically half her age she isn't exactly afraid of him, or the gun he waves in her face. Almost willingly Charlotte finds herself on a road trip with Jake Simms, Jr - demolition derby racer, escapee from jail, and father to his teenage girlfriend's unborn child. The three make an interesting pair. Tyler's writing is sharp and funny. She gives us alternating time frames, bouncing between Charlotte's escape in present day and the past - as if to explain how Charlotte's life ended up so complicated. ( )
2 vote SeriousGrace | Jun 3, 2014 |
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The marriage wasn't going well and I decided to leave my husband.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449911810, Paperback)

"To read a novel by Anne Tyler is to fall in love."


Charlotte Emory has always lived a quiet, conventional life in Clarion, Maryland. She lives as simply as possible, and one day decides to simplify everything and leave her husband. Her last trip to the bank throws Charlotte's life into an entirely different direction when a restless young man in a nylon jacket takes her hostage during the robbery--and soon the two are heading south into an unknown future, and a most unexpected fate....

From the Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:42 -0400)

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The past and present of 35 year old Charlotte Emory, burdened with the possessions and emotional clutter of everyday life unfolds during a journey to Florida with a man who has taken her hostage.

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