Anne Tyler gives us a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel in which she explores how a middle-aged man, torn apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances: in their house, on the roadway, in the market.
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy's unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace.
Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family's vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye.
A beautiful, subtle exploration of loss and recovery, pierced throughout with Anne Tyler's humor, wisdom, and always-penetrating look at human foibles.
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Anne Tyler at her Best
This latest book by Anne Tyler ranks equal highest (with Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca") amongst the audiobooks I've listened to so far.
My favourite charater was the main protagonist, Aaron. He showed his vulnerabilites, his weaknesses and strengths. He travelled his journey of grief and rediscovered the love he had for his wife, as well as discovering and finally accepting that their marriage was not a happy one.
The narrator was excellent. His voice complemented the character of Aaron well, and expressed the shifting moods of the story.
I wouldn't rename the book, as the title is intrinsically linked to the life of the main character Aaron, and his family business. The title forms another story strand within the book, where the family business publishes a wide selection of "The Beginner's ...." titles. Aaron as the main character, is unconsciously following the contents of such a book as he confronts the untimely death of his wife and his new life as a widower.
I first met Anne Tyler in "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" when this was a high school text for my daughter way back when, and it was followed closely by the very moving "The Accidental Tourist". Since then I have devoured Tyler's work, and more lately have had to do this via Audible because of some vision problems. Recently I have caught up with two of Tyler's early works prior to reading "The Beginner's Goodbye". I believe Tyler's maturity as a writer has peaked in this latest book, with her sensitive, but still quirky, approach to grief and relationships. And Kirby Heyborne as the narrator enhances this work as an audio book.
- Elizabeth Ward
A man deals with his wife's death.