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Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler

Earthly Possessions (1977)

by Anne Tyler

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It kept my interest, but I didn't think this was one of Tyler's better novels. I never connected with any of the characters. It seemed to me that Tyler kept the two main characters at arm's length herself, perhaps as a result of their own personalities. At any rate, their relative aloofness had a negative effect on my opinion of the book. I still have plenty of Tyler's books to get through, and I know there are other really good ones I've yet to read, but I'm spreading them out over time. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
At thirty-five years old, Charlotte Emory has always lived a quiet, conventional life in Clarion, Maryland. She lives as simply as possible, but being a pastor's wife, especially when she isn't all that religious herself, is particularly hard on her. Her husband Saul, is a man who truly lives his faith, opening his doors to the downtrodden and those most in need; but for Charlotte, her life has become extremely unhappy.

Seeking to simplify everything, Charlotte decides one day to leave her husband. However, her last trip to the bank turns Charlotte's life in an entirely different direction when the bank is robbed. A restless young man in a nylon jacket takes her hostage - and soon the two are heading to Florida, into an unknown future, and a most unexpected fate.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It was a very quick read, and the story gripped me right from the start. It was interesting for me to learn about Charlotte's past, and I truly wanted to know what would happen next. I give Earthly Possessions by Anne Tyler a definite A+! and will certainly keep my eyes open for more books by this author. ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Mar 22, 2014 |
Anne Tyler's characters are quirky - that's a given. And this is an especially quirky and interesting lot. Although an early book, this is a vintage Tyler plot - the woman who needs to run away from home.

Thirty-five-year-old Charlotte is in the process of leaving her family - again - when she is taken hostage by the world's most ineffectual bank robber. The two flee by bus to liberate the robber's girl friend from a home for unwed mothers, and in the process we learn Charlotte's story.

It's an early Tyler and the characters are a bit over-the-top, but nevertheless worth reading. ( )
  dianaleez | Oct 27, 2009 |
i must say that Anne Tyler certainly has a knack for creating remarkably quirky characters that are nonetheless lovable on some level...this is my 3rd tyler book....Searching for Caleb & The Clock Winder also had unusual folks that i never would spend much time with if i encountered them in my life, but i am always intrigued enough to see what happens to them, rooting for them along the way.....i'll probably read others...after all they are already on the shelf!!! ( )
  jeffome | Sep 30, 2009 |
As usual, Anne Tyler writes with a sharp, clear view of life, and of her characters. Charlotte, who is in the bank about to cash a check so she can run away from her husband and children, is instead taken hostage by a bank robber who bungles the job; she finds herself taking the same journey away but under very different circumstances.

The book's form alternates between telling one chapter of the journey with the would-be bank robber, Jake, and one of life before her new status as hostage. With a gun in her ribs, and her past behind her, Charlotte stares enthralled at the passing countryside and relives her memories.

And as the book progresses it's little wonder that Charlotte, for all her instinctive desire to get away from Jake, is captivated by the life outside the window. Her life as a child, and then as a married woman, was unequivocally dull, tragically so. Charlotte has spent her life - beginning as a child - planning to leave all behind her and just get away.

Charlotte's resignation permeates the book, and it isn't hard to understand why she boards the bus away so peaceably, without a hint of a struggle. It's obvious that it is more than just the gun doing its job, as from the start Jake is an inept criminal. This resignation gives the work a sad, dark tone, and many times Charlotte is just so frustrating as she watches her life sail by, with a glum outlook.

There are spots of humour however, which relieve the otherwise unrelenting, quiet tragedy. Tyler is a genius when it comes to telling a story, and the flow of events, and such humour is very deliberate I'm sure. She also has a knack for creating characters that aren't exactly likable, but are ones a reader engages with nevertheless. Consequently, I was fascinated to the end.
2 vote Severn | Jan 14, 2009 |
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The marriage wasn't going well and I decided to leave my husband.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:51:21 -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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