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Publisher's Summary

"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.
©2001 Anne Tyler (P)2001 Random House, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"[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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Barbara on 08-19-03

Wonderful characters

As always, Anne Tyler delivers an interesting story with wonderful, quirky characters. She shows life as it is lived--full of self-doubt, unintentional side-trips and lots of ups and downs. You leave an Anne Tyler book, though, realizing that ordinary lives can be extraordinary if people live consciously. Don't read it for the plot (though that is great, too)--read it for the characters.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By swalk on 08-20-04

Excellent, Interesting Context

This has been one of my most favorite Audible fictional titles. Who of us hasn't woken up sometime wondering--How did I get here? What am I doing? One decision 20-30-40 years ago from some dumb teenager who didn't have a clue---and here I am. I know some call it mid-life crisis.
This was interesting, thought-provoking, while remaining entertaining and a good read. Perhaps not quite as good as Saint Maybe but a close second.
For those who have started this book keep listening--the old man's comments near the end are worth the whole jouney in themselves!

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David on 08-09-10

A gentle, mesmerising story of family life

Anne Tyler delivers another sure-fire story of acutely observed family tensions and regret for missed opportunities. Her unhurried observations of what it's like to grow old on the periphery of a large and sometimes dysfunctional family are spot-on and never less than convincing. Her style and ear for dialogue are flawless. By the end of the book, you will feel as if you are part of their family.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By stylo on 12-16-16

Not Anne Tyler's best book!

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes, because Anne Tyler is a good writer, and although the story is fairly unexciting the book is worth reading.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The interesting aspect is the main theme - the mid-life crisis. Rebecca Davitch questions her choices in life and even attempts to re-start it with her first boyfriend, but eventually concludes that she is happy as she is.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes, both are slow!

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