Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

Noah's Compass (2009)

by Anne Tyler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,337795,794 (3.34)80



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 80 mentions

English (75)  Finnish (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  All (79)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
I enjoy Anne Tyler's novels. They always seem to deal with the lessons we learn through the rather mundane events of which our lives are assembled.

At the end of Noah's Compass, I felt conflicted between wanting secrets revealed and wanting a happily-ever-after for Liam and wanting those things to remain elusive, as they so often are in real life. I find the presence of that conflict satisfying. I am glad Tyler didn't stoop to cheap drama.

This novel is well suited for audiobook format. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 20, 2017 |
Not Tyler's best book, but still a pleasant read. Nothing surprising in it--pretty much exactly what I expected when I opened the book. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Unmemorable and very quick, imo. I mean, she's a good writer who creates interesting characters, but when I put this down I was ready to move on. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
61-year-old Liam Pennywell suddenly finds himself out of a job when the school he teaches at combines the two fifth grade classes into one. He's never been one to argue with people or even disagree with them, so he leaves quietly, downsizes into a smaller apartment, and tries to figure out what to do with the rest of his life. On his first night in his new apartment, a burglar breaks in and hits him on the head. He wakes up the next day in the hospital and has no memory of the incident. The loss of part of his life, even so small a part, greatly disturbs him, even though his family keeps telling him he should be grateful he doesn't remember such a traumatic event. In his attempts to trigger his memory, he meets Eunice, a younger woman who could change his life if he will let her.

As with all of Tyler's novels, characterization takes precedence over any plot. He characters are so quirky that they shouldn't be believable, but somehow, she always makes them work. What makes this one different from her other novels is that I didn't like any of the characters in Noah's Compass. I didn't want Liam and Eunice to live happily ever after, with each other or otherwise because they both needed to make some serious changes in their lives before deserving that kind of reward. This meant that the book was not very enjoyable to read, even though it was really well written. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
"In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job." Well, now, you can't get much more timely than this. I'm a bit older than Liam, and so was my husband when the same thing happened to him, but still at a point in life when it leaves you wondering "Am I really finished with work? Am I ready to retire? Do I have other options?" Liam hasn't set the world on fire, to say the least, and now he's thinking he might just relax into his rocking chair with his books and wait for the end. Except that his rocking chair isn't all that comfortable, as it turns out. And everyone keeps asking him what he’s going to do “next”. And the first night he spends in his new, cheaper apartment he forgets to lock the patio door, and gets knocked out by an opportunistic burglar. (Not such a great opportunity for the burglar, either---Liam doesn't own one thing worth stealing.) He wakes up in the hospital with a bandaged head and no memory of anything past settling comfortably into his tightly made bed. He is much more disturbed by the lack of memory than by any other aspect of the event, a fact which neither his family, his doctor nor his friend Bundy seem to grasp. They all feel he should be grateful not to have a memory of being assaulted in his own apartment, but to Liam it’s an ongoing source of frustration. There isn’t a lot of plot in this novel; Tyler gives us life’s mundane moments, touched with a bit of short-lived excitement and a lot of introspection on the fly. As she has done before, (in The Accidental Tourist, for example) she creates a slightly disconnected male character who has functioned well enough up to a point in his life, but seems to have no inner core of support when life stops being routine, and who finds himself drawn to a woman whose appeal is that she fits no familiar pattern. Unfortunately, he rather pins his hopes for recovering his memory and turning his life around on this woman, who clearly isn’t wrapped too tightly at the core herself. I almost always enjoy Anne Tyler’s characters, even when I want to give them a good shake and a swift kick in the butt. This time was no exception.

Review written in January 2016 ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Jan 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Liam’s story is animated by all the homey little details of ordinary life that make Ms. Tyler’s narratives feel so intimate and recognizable, as if we were flipping through an album of snapshots belonging to a relative or neighbor. But his story also turns out to be slighter than Ms. Tyler’s best work, tipping over into the sentimentality she is prone to and eschewing the ambition of her last novel, “Digging to America.” Whereas that book opened out into a commodious meditation on identity and belonging — what it means to be part of a family, a culture, a country — this one devolves into a predictable and highly contrived tale of one man’s late midlife crisis.
Liam’s disengagement is a symptom of depression. And while novels are populated by the luckless and lovelorn, depressed people are not very funny, even when they do funny things.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Rakastettu tarinankertoja kuvaa koskettavasti ja tarkkanäköisesti rakkauden voimaa ja anteeksiantoa. Hiljainen ja muiden tahtoon alistuva Liam joutuu ennenaikaiselle eläkkeelle luokanopettajan virastaan. Huonontuneen rahatilanteen pakottamana hän muuttaa pienempään asuntoon, mutta joutuu heti ensimmäisenä yönä murtovarkaan mukiloimaksi. Aivotärähdyksen saanut Liam ei muista yön tapahtumista mitään. Hän saa kuitenkin avuntarjouksen neurologin vastaanotolla tapaamaltaan nuorelta naiselta. Eunice antaa yllättävän sytykkeen Liamin hiipuneeseen elämään. Samalla Liam joutuu pohtimaan suhdettaan menneisyydessä tekemiinsä valintoihin.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272400, Hardcover)

From the incomparable Anne Tyler, a wise, gently humorous, and deeply compassionate novel about a schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.

Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn’t bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new, spare, and efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.

His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is—well, something quite different.

We all know a Liam. In fact, there may be a little of Liam in each of us. Which is why Anne Tyler’s lovely novel resonates so deeply.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:31 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

From the incomparable Anne Tyler, a wise, gently humorous, and deeply compassionate novel about a schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.

» see all 6 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
2 avail.
152 wanted

Popular covers


Average: (3.34)
0.5 1
1 9
1.5 3
2 46
2.5 18
3 126
3.5 52
4 121
4.5 9
5 31

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 115,156,318 books! | Top bar: Always visible