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The Beginner's Goodbye | [Anne Tyler]

The Beginner's Goodbye

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2012 Random House Audio (P)2012 Anne Tyler

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (167 )
5 star
 (35)
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 (61)
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3.6 (144 )
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Story
3.9 (140 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 04-11-12
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 04-11-12 Member Since 2009

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Typical Tyler, but not her best"

    The Beginner's Goodbye is a completely enjoyable, typical Tyler book. Aaron, the reserved, reclusive main character, loses his wife Dorothy in a freak accident when a tree crashes through their roof. The story unfolds when Aaron deals with his grief surrounded by slightly quirky family, co-workers, and neighbors. Dorothy appears to Aaron after her death, which begins to help him recover from his understandably crushing grief and loss. In one of the sadder aspects of the story, Aaron doesn't really seem to know and understand Dorothy well until after her death. The Hallmark ending was far too pat and predictable.

    While this was a very pleasant read, it doesn't hold a candle to some of Tyler's best, like Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Breathing Lessons

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry LEBANON, OR, United States 03-19-13
    Larry LEBANON, OR, United States 03-19-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Not Anne Tyler's best work"
    What did you love best about The Beginner's Goodbye?

    The author did a good job of describing grief after losing a loved one.


    Have you listened to any of Kirby Heyborne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Yes - Gone Girl. Performance was about the same, but better story.


    If you could take any character from The Beginner's Goodbye out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I would pick the contractor. He seemed the best adjusted.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Garfinkle Orange County, CA United States 03-18-13
    Debra Garfinkle Orange County, CA United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2010

    author of books for teens and children

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Anne Tyler Is Consistently Terrific"

    I have read all of Anne Tyler's books. She's one of my favorite authors. This book is terrific like her others. The protagonist is a stubborn young widower who walks with a cane and has trouble overcoming his grief. He is fully fleshed out, and surrounded by fun, quirky friends, coworkers, and relatives. If you like smart, character-driven novels with humor and poignancy, you can't do much better than an Anne Tyler novel such as this one.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 03-12-13
    Mark Waltham, MA, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2010

    MTF

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    "a short, pleasant novel"

    This novel is what I expect of Anne Tyler - quirky but very believable characters that I care about. The gimmick is that a widower in his mid-30's starts to see his recently deceased wife at various times. Most of this novel, though, is a series of flashbacks about the narrator Aaron's relationship with his wife Dorothy. I was drawn into the world of the main and secondary characters, through Aaron's early relationship, marriage, and then his grief after the freak accidental death of his wife. The least engaging part of the novel was Aaron's encounter with his dead wife. I liked this novel quite a bit in spite of the ghost theme. The reader is not easy to listen to, but the narrator is not the most likable, and so I suppose the voice does match the character. I did get used to hearing him.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Warren north carolina coast 02-05-13
    J. Warren north carolina coast 02-05-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Enjoyed this Anne Tyler story!"
    Where does The Beginner's Goodbye rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Since I have been a fan of Anne Tyler's beautiful writing since I was a young adult and discovered that I loved quirky, heart-warming stories about difficulty lives. Each of us can relate to moments throughout each of her stories. This beautiful story, well- performed will be something that you will look forward to listening to till the very end. So glad I own it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bette Tortola 01-18-13
    Bette Tortola 01-18-13 Member Since 2012

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Anne Tyler at Her Same"

    I'll be the first to say that Anne Tyler is one of America's finest contemporary novelists, but I couldn't help feeling a lot of been-there-read-that while listening to 'The Beginner's Goodbye'.

    While Tyler's honed storytelling style and Heyborn's fine narrative got me through the book, I was bored by a too familiar cast of characters involved in yet another long, slow slide toward healing.

    (huh: maybe I'm getting jaded in my old age....)


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 01-09-13
    Jen ravenna, OH, United States 01-09-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Introspective While Enjoyable"
    Any additional comments?

    This is just a wonderful story about couples and family. While telling ourselves that we treat them fairly with kindness and thoughtfulness we learn lessons along the way that we were not nearly as kind to them as we were ourselves.

    This is a well written story about human nature. I enjoyed it a great deal, while complipating the story long after the final words in the book. It would be lovely if we could all see the bigger picture like many of the characters in this book fortunately got to see.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KP Oakland, CA 12-02-12
    KP Oakland, CA 12-02-12 Member Since 2006

    There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sweet book but disappointing"

    What a sweet little book! Anne Tyler is certainly good at describing the small details of life and relationships. I found myself nodding and agreeing with so many of her observations about some of the smallest but telling details about life. However, overall these telling moments didn't really add up to much of a plot or make me particularly fond of the characters.

    By the end, or the last 1/4 I'd say, I did feel a connection with Aaron and felt happy that he seemed to learn, in the end, that the most important thing about a relationship, with all of its human flaws and problems, is that both people need to appreciate each other while they still have the chance. The author has a minor character, Luke, state this theme overtly at the very end:
    "My friend Luke told me once that he’d been considering my question about whether the dead ever visit. It was true that I had asked him, back around the time I asked Nate, but this was weeks and weeks later. Apparently he had been deliberating the issue ever since. “I’ve decided,” he said, “that they don’t visit. But I think if you knew them well enough, if you’d listened to them closely enough while they were still alive, you might be able to imagine what they would tell you even now. So the smart thing to do is, pay attention while they’re living. But that’s only my opinion.”


    It is so simple and tried and true, and I WILL say that this book DOES do a good job of SHOWING that lesson. It just that it's a bit of a bore, with insightful moments breaking it up, along the way. Then, in the end, it packs a powerful, emotional lesson. I hope it sticks with me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer US, North Carolina 08-27-12
    Amazon Customer US, North Carolina 08-27-12 Member Since 2012

    ChaiKnuckles

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    "Disappointing story and narration"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The story had very little plot and moved extremely slowly. Given the quality of the work, even the best-quality narration wouldn't have improved the experience. However, and unfortunately, the narrator made the story even more ponderous.


    What was most disappointing about Anne Tyler’s story?

    The description was poetic, but the plot was thin and the pace slow.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    His voice was annoying and his pace made a slow story even slower.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Frustration that I couldn't move the story along, and disappointment that Anne Tyler's work this time around couldn't hold a candle to past work.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beverly House New York 07-02-12
    Beverly House New York 07-02-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fan of Anne"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It was a disappointment...it seems to drone on...perhaps it is the fact that the narrator in the book is somewhat of a whiner and loser...and it difficult to listen to.


    Would you be willing to try another book from Anne Tyler? Why or why not?

    I read all her books. Absolutely.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No....too sad.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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