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
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.
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.
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.
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 "
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.
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.
I Think The Title is perfect. It really made sense after reading the book.
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.
I listen to novels for distraction and entertainment and rate them on the experience, not literary merit. I prefer to read good literature.
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....)
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.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
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
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.
Yes. It's a gentle book, accepting of all its characters' quirks and gently read. I was sorry it ended.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
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.
Making the world better one review at a time.
Sometimes when two people tie the knot, they overdo it and the knot gets awfully complicated. Then a freak accident occurs, and one person is left behind to unravel the mess they made together. So it goes for Aaron and Dorothy, a couple whose marriage was built on misconceptions. Despite these misconceptions, they manage to piece together a life slathered with the glue of commitment and love. Lucky couples get a whole lifetime to fix what is wrong in their marriage. But when a tree falls onto their house and Dorothy is abruptly killed, Aaron is left to sort out the reality of what they had.
Anne Tyler has a written a beautiful book about a broken marriage. The language is simple and clean. In scenes with dialogue between Aaron and Dorothy, Tyler captures the reality of marital angst and, if we’re honest, even reminds us of our own marriages. Along with this reminder comes a poignant question: if your marriage ended tomorrow, would you be comfortable with where it stands? If the answer is “no,” Tyler quietly urges us to do the work now to fix it, before it’s too late.
Narrator Kirby Heyborne breathes life into Tyler’s narrative. He allows us to feel all the tension and bliss that married life can bring. At times the narration feels dated, thus surprising the reader when modern conveniences like the Apple store are mentioned. I’m not sure if this is a result of Heyborne’s narration or Tyler’s writing. Luckily, it is only a slight distraction from an otherwise flawless performance.
If you are married now, or once were, or ever hope to be, you must read The Beginner’s Goodbye. This intimate portrayal of one couple will give you perspective on what is really important in life.
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