The Beginner's Goodbye: Book summary and reviews of The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye

by Anne Tyler

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler X
The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Apr 2012
    208 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Says
Anne Tyler's new novel, The Beginners Goodbye, follows (unfortunately) in the footsteps of her other recent novels. Anne Tyler's prose used to be cutting, concise, revelatory. Basically, everything she wrote before 1992: I was an automatic fan. Since then, she appears to have slipped into a kind of formulaic, vaguely "chick lit-ish" rut, and can't seem to find her way out. I know, I shouldn't say "chick lit," but sometimes it just works. The narrator of The Beginner's Goodbye is a man, but hardly - that is, he's hardly a character at all. I found his voice unconvincing, and oddly autistic in a way that it doesn't need to be. The story itself is appealing (a tree falls into Aaron and Dorothy's house, killing Dorothy, who reappears as a ghost and starts following Aaron around), but the writing is lifeless and sappy in turns, and altogether simply not very good. I miss the old Anne Tyler. I wonder what happened to her." - Morgan Macgregor

Others Say
"An uncharacteristically slight work by a major novelist." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. This is no gothic ghost story nor chronicle of a man unraveling in his grief, but rather an uplifting tale of love and forgiveness. By the end of this wonderful book, you've lived the lives and loves of these characters in the best possible way." - Publishers Weekly

"A classic Tyler novel that fans will want; with a reading group guide." - Library Journal

The information about The Beginner's Goodbye shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Dorothy T.

A different look at grieving
First of all, why do characters named Dorothy always seem to be old and dumpy? It is especially unnerving now that I am old and dumpy myself!

Ok, on to the subject. We hear so much about the stages of grief: denial, anger, sadness, acceptance--or however they go--but Anne Tyler has given us another perspective. Our widower, Aaron, learns to sort out his memories of his late wife and their relationship and finds his own way to deal with his loss. As the scripture says, the truth will set you free. I was drawn in by her opening line and then by her believable and likeable characters (yes, even dumpy Dorothy). This is a good book for Anne Tyler fans, those new to her work, and for book clubs looking for a shorter read that still holds plenty to discuss.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Anne Tyler Author Biography

© Diana Walker

Anne Tyler's 50 Year Writing Career

In March 2013, Anne Tyler announced the title of her upcoming novel in an interview with the BBC. She also noted that she didn't want to finish another novel - not even this one. She described the book as a "sprawling family saga," which starts with the present generation and then moves back, one generation at a time. Fortunately, she realized she was only interested in three generations. Before this revelation, she figured A Spool of Blue Thread could go on long enough that she might die before its publication! That way she wouldn't have the hassle of the editing, polishing, promoting and worrying if the book was any good or not.

This sounds like the pressure of thinking up something new and original, combined with her obvious penchant for ...

... Full Biography
Author Interview

Other books by Anne Tyler at BookBrowse
  • The Amateur Marriage jacket

9 more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Fake Like Me
    Fake Like Me
    by Barbara Bourland
    After years of trying to make it as a painter in New York City, the unnamed narrator of Fake Like Me...
  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.