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The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler

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The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler
Published by Chatto & Windus in 2012

Aaron, the narrator of The Beginner’s Goodbye, works in the family business that is a vanity publisher and also publisher of the successful ‘Beginners’ series of guidebooks.

Paralysed in his arm and leg and with a bad stutter, his older sister has protected and minded him throughout his life. When he meets Dorothy, a plain, independent, outspoken doctor, she is like a breath of fresh air in his cosseted world. He falls in love immediately and their marriage is relatively happy, if unremarkable. To Aaron, their uncomplicated and unfussy routine seems perfect.

His world collapses when a falling tree wrecks part of their house and Dorothy is killed. Aaron, not one for public displays of emotion, dreads the feeling of once again being wrapped in cotton wool. He resists any offers of help or sympathy from friends or colleagues. He deflects phone calls and repels neighbours who call to his door, all the while striving to appear self-sufficient and in control.

His world is again turned upside when Dorothy seems to return from the dead to have conversations with Aaron. He thinks everyone can hear and see her but that they choose not to mention her out of unease or indifference. Though out of his emotional depth, Aaron begins a slow journey to self-knowledge and a more realistic sense of his marriage. Gradually he reaches a point where he is ready to replace his fantasised talks with Dorothy for the reality of ordinary life.

The Beginner's Goodbye is the story of the long process of recovery following the loss of a spouse. It is a beautiful, haunting, and moving novel, with touches of humour as Aaron learns how to live in the moment, to find some peace, and gradually discovers how to say goodbye.

‘… in Tyler's small slices of life there is poetry and wisdom nonetheless, and The Beginner's Goodbye – a small first step in the long process of recovery from the death of a spouse – is artistically subtle and emotionally satisfying despite its lightness.’
Elaine Showalter The Guardian

‘Anne Tyler has no peer. Her books just keep getting better and better. In The Beginner’s Goodbye, I was surprised, intrigued, and delighted at every turn.’
Anita Shreve

Anne Tyler she was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1941. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland where most of her novels are set.
Her 11th novel, Breathing Lessons, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1989.

By the same author:
The Accidental Tourist
The Amateur Marriage
Back When We Were Grownups
Breathing Lessons
Celestial Navigation
The Clock Winder
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
Earthly Possessions
If Morning Ever Comes
Ladder of Years
Morgan’s Passing
A Patchwork Planet
Saint Maybe
Searching for Cabel
A Slipping-Down Life
The Tin-Can Tree