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Publisher's Summary

From the incomparable Anne Tyler, a wise, gently humorous, and deeply compassionate novel about a schoolteacher, who has been forced to retire at sixty-one, coming to terms with the final phase of his life.

Liam Pennywell, who set out to be a philosopher and ended up teaching fifth grade, never much liked the job at that run-down private school, so early retirement doesn't bother him. But he is troubled by his inability to remember anything about the first night that he moved into his new, spare, and efficient condominium on the outskirts of Baltimore. All he knows when he wakes up the next day in the hospital is that his head is sore and bandaged.

His effort to recover the moments of his life that have been stolen from him leads him on an unexpected detour. What he needs is someone who can do the remembering for him. What he gets is well, something quite different.

We all know a Liam. In fact, there may be a little of Liam in each of us. Which is why Anne Tyler's lovely novel resonates so deeply.

©2010 Anne Tyler; (P)2010 Random House

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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Performance

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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    22
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    12
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    4
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Story

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Eileen
  • Charlotte, NC, United States
  • 04-10-10

Low key and thought provoking

Most of Anne Tyler's work seem to have little "action".This one is no exception, but that's not a bad thing. The main character in this book is almost an observer in his own life. There ae many points where he could make a definitive move, but he is somehow incapable. Instead, he complacently seems to accept what life hands him. I disagree with other reviewers who found the narrator lacking. His voice fit this character well and helped illustrate Noah's lack of curiosity about the world he lives in. The book was very engaging, perhaps becasue I deserately wanted this man to break free of his lassitude and make a bold move.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent exploration of life choices

This is a subtle examination of the choices made (the roads taken and not taken) and the ramifications of those choices on others. Do we stay the course or just keep afloat -- and who do wear harm unknowingly in the process?
Perhaps because I am 61 the novel seemed so real and so true.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • christine
  • Blue Springs, MO, United States
  • 02-18-10

good listen

I enjoyed listening to this book despite what I had read in other listeners' reviews. It's not an action-packed story, but Anne Tyler always does a great job developing her characters and this book is no exception. Liam and all of his relatives are typical Tyler: quirky and, for the most part, lovable.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • kimberly
  • claremont, CA, United States
  • 01-13-10

Doesn't measure up

I bought this book the day it became available, because Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors. I have read everything she's written. I am sad to say this book was disappointing. I found the main character annoying, and was unable to empathize with him, and the other characters were no better. I guess that is the trouble with being a great author...we hold our standards very high. This book doesn't measure up.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carole L.
  • LexingtonVirgin Islands, U.S.
  • 01-28-10

Read the Book

I love Anne Tyler books but this audio version is so dull I had to stop listening and read the book instead. The main character doesn't have much personality as it is, but when his voice carries the lines of the other characters in the book it goes beyond blah.
Once I started reading the book, I liked the story better. I was beginning to wish that the burglar had finished Liam off.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great book

This is a wonderful book. The sound quality was not that good on my Kindle, so I would download an enhanced version. The narrator is good though. Humorous and touching.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jolene
  • Olympia, WA, United States
  • 01-24-10

Noah needs a narrator

Like the reviewer before me, I have had to force myself to finish this book. Not only is the main
character uninteresting, but the narrator brings no warmth to the story, whatsoever. A big disappointment.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

different strokes

Would you listen to Noah's Compass again? Why?

Yes. I've listened to it twice, and plan to listen again in a couple years.

Any additional comments?

As the reviews show, liking this book is a matter of taste. It is reminiscent of The Accidental Tourist, but while Tourist was a brilliant ruby, Noah's Compass is a dusty opal. It is entertaining for those who like the inward musings and confusion of the older man who never quite got into the flow of life.<br/><br/>Contrary to other reviewers, I found the narration absolutely perfect. Arthur Morey translates the author's subtle humor and captures Noah's overwhelmed and underwhelmed personality beautifully.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

If you love Anne Tyler...

What did you love best about Noah's Compass?

Anne Tyler glimpses into little lives and exposes the complications, little joys, the beauty and the warts. Noah's Compass may not go where you want it to, but the journey of her prose is amazing.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eunice. She was such a surprise in the end.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Arthur Morey?

I don't recall the narrator. Not because he was bad, I've just been listening to lots of Anne Tyler books. All narrators were very good to excellent, except one was awful, but it was a woman.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Noah's Nothing

I had to make myself finish listening to this book. It has very little plot. Nothing happens. Honestly it's hard to believe but really NOTHING happens in this book. If this had been Anne Tyler's first novel, rather than a later one I don't think it would have been published. My recommendation -- read The Accidental Tourist (again if you've already read it). You'll enjoy it more and won't be wasting your time.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful