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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 (171 )
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3.6 (147 )
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3.9 (143 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elizabeth Ward Wonga Park, Victoria, AU 05-06-12
    Elizabeth Ward Wonga Park, Victoria, AU 05-06-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Anne Tyler at her Best"
    Where does The Beginner's Goodbye rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This latest book by Anne Tyler ranks equal highest (with Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca") amongst the audiobooks I've listened to so far.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    What about Kirby Heyborne’s performance did you like?

    The narrator was excellent. His voice complemented the character of Aaron well, and expressed the shifting moods of the story.


    If you could rename The Beginner's Goodbye, what would you call it?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-29-12
    Kathleen Minneapolis, MN, USA 08-29-12 Member Since 2005
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    "A man deals with his wife's death."

    This is a moving story of a man coming to terms with his wife’s sudden death in the prime of their lives. Not only must he deal with his grief, but he must deal with his own remembering of their time together, and his conclusion that they really did not have a happy marriage. In the meantime, his sister, who has never married, meets someone and falls in love. A very sensitive portrayal of a man who has great difficulty letting his feelings be known, or in feeling those feelings himself. I highly recommend this book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon san diego, california, United States 04-30-12
    sharon san diego, california, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2007

    love to read and love audio books!Favorite authors: Marcia Willett,Nevil Shute,Mary Stewart,and Jacqueline Winspear. I could go on and on but wont bore you! I belong to a book group and we often" Listen" to the books we have selected for the month while using a paper copy for the discussion notes. It really enhances the quality of the story.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Winner For Anne Tyler"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Anne Tyler's stories are consistently good ,these are the ones you re-read and pass around to friends.I have been a fan for many years Her characters are quirky and lovable .Her plots are all different and connect with parts of all of us. I just love it when they are made into movies. My favorite is "Back when we were Grown-ups "


    What did you like best about this story?

    As all of Anne Tyler"s Books the characters are so real and touch a deep part of us and who we are . I can connect with their feelings and failings.


    Which character – as performed by Kirby Heyborne – was your favorite?

    Aaron...he gave his character such depth...he was an excellent narrator reminded me of the narrator for "Patchwork Planet" which I also loved. Kirby 's voice seemed perfect for the mood of the story. I would definitely listen to him again.


    If you could rename The Beginner's Goodbye, what would you call it?

    I Think The Title is perfect. It really made sense after reading the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Often times I read the book and listen to the Audio...listening to a GOOD narrator really enhances the story and brings out all the emotions and feelings the author is trying to convey in the text. Thank you Audible!!! I am a very satisfied customer.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    readqueen Indianapolis, IN 05-28-12
    readqueen Indianapolis, IN 05-28-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Another Anne Tyler Success"

    I am a huge fan of all books written by Anne Tyler, but this is the first one I've listened to versus read. While the experience is equally enjoyable in both modes, I think the nature of her stories are excellent ones to listen to. Yes, as critics have mentioned, her characters are always not quite what is considered 'normal', but they are not evil or mean spirited. And the characters in this novel are no exception. While this story may not have the depth in the plot line found in her earlier work, it fully holds the reader's/listener's attention. The narrator performed excellently, allowing me to picture each character as the story unfolded. I know I've really enjoyed listening to a book when I turn on my car and am sorry to discover I'm on to another book. I really liked 'The Beginner's Goodbye' and regret having finished it so quickly.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 02-04-14
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 02-04-14 Member Since 2003
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    "Awful"

    I remember howling out loud years ago when I read Accidental Tourist. And for some reason I never went back to any other of her books after that one. But this book does not have that same draw. It is a dull story of a dull man who married a dull woman and had a dull sister. I gave up. Narration was fine but it didn't help this boring, awful book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rosemary New York, NY, United States 12-29-12
    Rosemary New York, NY, United States 12-29-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Good read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It's a gentle book, accepting of all its characters' quirks and gently read. I was sorry it ended.


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

    no


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 12-15-12
    Paula Overland Park, KS USA 12-15-12 Member Since 2012

    Enjoying one good listen after the next!

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    "A Great Story that will Surprise!"

    I had no idea what this book was. . . bought it on sale on a whim. . . and it turned out to be quite a nice experience. The story line draws you in quickly and because it is a short listen, a book you'll want to finish in one sitting if you can. No complaints here on the performance; but full disclosure is merited: after the first 30 minutes, I used Audible's 1.5 speed -- the narration was just as good a little faster in my view.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra Cincinnati, OH, United States 07-17-12
    Sandra Cincinnati, OH, United States 07-17-12
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    "Anne Tyler is my favorite author, this is her best"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Beginner's Goodbye to be better than the print version?

    The narrator gave so much to the character and this performance was excellent


    What did you like best about this story?

    The strange characters


    What about Kirby Heyborne’s performance did you like?

    He made the book seem real


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When the tree fell


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer OJAI, CA, United States 04-12-12
    Amazon Customer OJAI, CA, United States 04-12-12 Member Since 2011

    knyshop

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    "Dealing with Loss can be Painful but Enlightening"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Beginner's Goodbye to be better than the print version?

    I did not read the print version (this is the only Anne Tyler book I have listened to in audio) but as a devoted fan of Ms. Tyler's writing, believe that either version could deliver the emotional effect commonly found in Ms. Tyler's books.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The protagonist Aaron Woolcott. The true sorrow and love he describes when speaking of his wife, in spite of all the imperfections in their relationship-and themselves-was beautiful and heart wrenching.


    What does Kirby Heyborne bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I loved the narration. Mr. Heyborne's reading brought me to tears.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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