The Beginner's Goodbye

By Anne Tyler
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307957276, 208pp.)

Publication Date: April 3, 2012

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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the April 2012 Indie Next List
“Tyler writes about love, loss, and grieving in this beautiful new novel. After a childhood illness left him with a crippled right arm and leg, Aaron always fought to be self-reliant. He finds the love of his life in an equally self-sufficient woman, Dorothy. After 10 years of marriage, Dorothy is killed in a freak accident and as Aaron grieves and tries to put his life back together, he begins to learn the true cost of his independent ways.”
-- Nancy Drott, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX


Description

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 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.




About the Author
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her 17th novel. Her 11th, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland.


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. Aaron is handicapped on his right side as a result of a childhood illness. Why do you think the author chose to give her main character such a handicap? Is it significant—a symbol or metaphor—or entirely coincidental?

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