"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person." So Anne Tyler opens this irresistible novel.The woman is Rebecca Davitch, a 53-year-old grandmother. Is she an imposter in her own life? she asks herself. Is it indeed her own life? Or is it someone else's?On the surface, Beck, as she is known, is outgoing, joyous, a natural celebrator. Giving parties is her vocation - something she slipped into even before finishing college, when Joe Davitch spotted her at an engagement party in his family's crumbling 19th-century Baltimore row house, where giving parties was the family business. What caught his fancy was that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon this large-spirited older man, a divorcé with three little girls, swept her into his orbit, and before she knew it she was embracing his extended family plus a child of their own.Now, some 30 years later Rebecca is caught unaware by the question of who she really is. How she answers it - how she tries to recover her girlhood self, that dignified grownup she had once been - is the story told in this beguiling, searching, and deeply moving novel. As always with Anne Tyler's novels, once we enter her world it is hard to leave. But in Back When We Were Grownups she so sharpens our perceptions and awakens so many untapped feelings that we come away not only refreshed, but also infinitely wiser.More
"[Tyler's] feel for character is so keen that even hardened metafictionalists...are reduced to the role of helpless gossips, swapping avid hunches about the possible fates of the characters. You're involved before you even noticed you were paying attention." (The New Yorker)
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