Tuesday, 26 August 2014
The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler gives us a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel in which she explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearancesin their house, on the roadway, in the market.
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron has spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, independent 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.
I somehow expected more from this book but sadly it didn't deliver for me at all. The premise of the story sounded great but ended up being not that great the way it was interpreted.
The story meandered along at a gentle pace. The characters were reasonably well developed but didn't seem to gel together that well for me, I didn't have much empathy with any of them. Life must have been hard for Aaron, struggling with his disability. In Dorothy his wife, he has found someone who wants to care for him but can see beyond hiis disability. Sadly, fate has it's own ideas for his life and his wife dies in a freak accident.
Aaron is grief stricken and finds it hard to cope with his loss. His wife reappears to him several times, is this his way of coping or is he losing it? Relying on his controlling sister he moves in with her, while work is carried out on his home. Leaving most of the decisions up to the contractor who is appointed to do the work. Aaron finds it hard making any decision in his life due to the grief.
This is a definet slow burner of a story and at times can be qute thought provoking. I can't say that I blame Aaron at all for not being able to make decisions following the loss of his wife. It's a time of our lives that none of us really want to grow through, coping with the loss of a loved one.
This was the first book that I've read by this Author and I do have another one somewhere, that I will read but I doubt I'll be in a huge rush to read it. I gave this a 6/10.