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The Clock Winder

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,450 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Mrs. Pamela Evans lives a lonely new widowhood outside of Baltimore, with only a house full of ticking clocks for company. Then she hires eccentric Elizabeth Abbott as a handyman and both discover that parts don't have to be a perfect match to work.

"Anne Tyler is a magical writer."


From the Paperback edition.
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 26th 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published 1972)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Noting the relationship between my goodreads friends and acquaintances, and Anne Tyler makes me wonder. Is Jane Austen some sort of token? We have to like somebody who writes about domesticity, so...

Is that it? Tyler does indeed write about domesticity. Ordinary people living ordinary lives, mostly in their very ordinary houses. She does this fantastically well and I can't really imagine a more important job a writer could have.

But maybe it is despised precisely for being the things I think are
Mar 31, 2008 Daniel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: Mom
This is one my mom bought for me because I was interested in reading something, whatever it was, that she had liked. After dabbing in a few other books, I finally picked up Clock Winder. The story centers around a matriarch whose children have spread around the country. She is trying to take care of herself and her estate in Baltimore some months after her husband dies (a great character in his own right, even though he never says a line), when Elizabeth happens by and helps move some furniture ...more
Della Tyler non è che abbia mai avuto una grande opinione, ma una cretinata come questa ci vuole un bel talento per scriverla. Un bel talento per la stupidaggine.
Allora perchè hai letto tanti suoi romanzi, direte voi? Perchè, talvolta, in alcuni passaggi dei suoi scritti, coglie momenti ed esprime le sensazioni umane in modo veramente azzeccato.

Ma mi sa, ormai, data l'esperienza fatta, che le capita per puro caso e non perchè rifletta davvero sui problemi.
Bye bye, Mrs. Tyler
One of Tyler earliest works, in which she shows promise, though the book never really comes together. Worked okay for me to fill time, but if you're looking for anything along the lines of her later, more acclaimed work, you'll likely be disappointed.
Audio narrator does a decent job with the material.
Oramai conosco bene Anne Tyler. Conosco il suo stile pacato e tranquillo, volto a cogliere attimi di vita di tutti i giorni, con un’attenzione particolare alle vicende familiari. Ed è così anche in questo libro. Protagonista è una grande famiglia di Baltimora, composta da sette fratelli e dalla loro madre, rimasta improvvisamente vedova; come in ogni famiglia, ci sono sentimenti contrastanti che legano i figli: gelosie ed invidie che sfociano in eventi tragici, ma il tutto viene esposto con levi ...more
A nice, quick and easy read to follow Wild Swans. I always enjoy Anne Tyler, and this was no exception. Favorite passage:

"Isn't it amazing how hard people work to raise their children? Human beings are born so helpless, and stay helpless so long. For every grownup you see, you know there must have been at least one person who had the patience to lug them around, and feed them, and walk them nights and keep them out of danger for years and years without a break. Teaching them how to fit into civi
I've really liked a number of Anne Tyler's books (especially "Digging to America" and "Saint Maybe". This book was a real disappointment. I kept waiting for whatever it is that has made the aforementioned books special, but it never appeared. If you want to read one of her books there are quite a few others more worthy of your time.
I thought I'd try one of her earlier books to see if I'd like it better than later books of hers that I've read but just didn't quite "get into". I must be missing some gene for liking Anne Tyler books is all i can say. The writing style, the characters, the plots...don't capture my attention. Oh well...on to something that will. :)
Gina Lynette
Hmmm. I love Anne Tyler. And there were absolutely sections of this book which were flawlessly written. However--and this is a huge however--there were 3 or 4 chapters which were completely baffling and confusing and even hard to follow. :) Most of the narrative involves Elizabeth--from her perspective and over the course of weeks. But in those 3 or 4 chapters you jump time and perspective. The narrators are drawn from minor, previously barely-mentioned characters--so their suddenly being front ...more
Questo libro era da un bel pezzo sul mio comodino. Lo ignoravo. In un periodo in cui avevo solo bisogno di certezze, quello che volevo era che le cose con le quali entravo in contatto fossero l'esatta fotocopia della mia vita, dei miei stati d'animo. Che fossero colme delle mie stesse incertezze. E quindi, quando lo prendevo in mano e ne rileggevo per l'ennesima volta la quarta di copertina, pensavo:"Ma no, questo non mi aiuterà a cavare un ragno dal buco".

Oggi sono felice di essermi sbagliata.
“He thought his mother was like a hunter who set traps and coaxed and baited until the animal was safely caught, and then she forgot she had wanted him and went off to some new project”. Interesting quote from this book. I have read quite a few books by this author. I have loved some of them and disliked others. One thing I am beginning to learn about this author, her character development seems to lean toward dysfunction. Not with just one character but several. This book was about Elizabeth an ...more
The characters are portrayed to be "quirky" but instead come off as second rate soap opera stars. The title of the book adds a non-existant air of mystique that was found to be of little relevance to the story; metaphorically or literally. The "climax" of the story is rushed, lacking any true tone of foreclosure, as though the author herself grew as bored writing the book as this reader did of reading it. The ending of the story lacked coherance; suddenly changing to the perspective of a charact ...more
Josie Mills
This is a lovely little story which centres around a rather dramatic family, The Emersons. It follows a family's recovery from a life altering event.

I really enjoyed the unlikely relationship between Mrs Emerson and her 'handyman'. All the characters are delightfully flawed and 'real', but Mrs Emerson is by far my favourite; she's brilliant.

Not a lot actually happens, really. Just life. You see the characters grow and develop and live. It's nice.

The characters are difficult to like at times, as
Marissa Morrison
The first third of this novel is rather slow moving and uneventful. In the middle something awful happens and it's unbearably sad. In the end, most of the characters have ended up in a good place, which seems to be a hallmark of an Anne Tyler story--people end up where they ought to be, not living an ideal life but living lifestyles that fit their individual idiosyncrasies. I don't know all the factors that make it so, but only by the end of the book did I feel like I recognized the author as An ...more
The story line was interesting and I found it a fast read. It was weird at the end of the book though when Peter comes home for a unexpected visit with his new wife, PJ. I found myself trying to figure out who Peter is and how he relates to Mrs. Emerson as he never played a role in the story until the very end. It was confusing and I couldn't figure out why the author added this part at the end.

I enjoyed the relationship between Mrs Emerson and Elizabeth, and then the romance between Elizabeth
Perfectly observed novel telling the story of Elizabeth, an aimless teenager who takes a summer job as handyman to an eccentric recently-widowed woman. Mrs Emerson and her bizarre brood of seven children come to rely more and more on Elizabeth, causing her to reject their neediness and leave. The Clock Winder revisits Elizabeth at intervals over some years as she gravitates around the Emerson family, both attracted and repulsed by them. I love Anne Tyler's descriptive writing and the way she can ...more
In my opinion, no one is more skilled at observing and narrating life than Anne Tyler; when reading her books I feel as though I am in the room and a silent observer of the goings on with her wonderfully quirky characters. Elizabeth is a free spirited young lady who comes into and out of the lives of the Emerson family, she is part hero, part villain and part savior in her role as handyman to Mrs. Emerson who in her role of matriarch to 4 sons and two daughters is trying to cope with life follow ...more
Veronica Zundel
What joy - a hitherto undiscovered (by me anyway) Anne Tyler - and just when I had a book token to spend!
This story of a dysfunctional (though rich) family, and the effect on them of being 'taken over' by a new 'handyman' (who is in fact a woman, lives in similar territory to many of her other novels: the way family cultures work and their response to the introduction of a new element. That doesn't make it any less absorbing or memorable. I shall shed a tear on the day when I discover that there
I have loved most every Anne Tyler book I've read, until this one. This was published in 1972, so an early one. I found it to be disappointing and not up to her later novels.

The main character, Elizabeth was not easy to get to know. Everything she said was brief and vague. I got the idea that there was really no depth to her. However, I did like her unconventional idea of the perfect job. She worked as the handyman around the house of a widowed matriarch who had 7 adult children that popped in a
I am always amazed how Anne Tyler can take basically the same character types and plot - an irritating, real, quirky Baltimore family - and make it new and interesting time and again. Her theme is always how you can take or leave your family but never change them, and it seems new in each book. She is one of my favorite authors and I am even more impressed that this is one of her early books, written when she was very young.
Anne Tyler revisits one of her common themes. A woman is employed by a family to take care of the mother's house. Elizabeth is not like the Emerson family. She doesn't argue, discuss or really take sides. She just gets the job done. But somehow she becomes a wedge between two of the sons until a tragedy happens. Written in the early 70's, it reflects the time so well.
Jul 16, 2009 Melaniedk rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in people, psychology
Shelves: fiction
Anne Tylers books are always an interesting journey. This book was very much a journal of a girl named Elizabeth. She had always grown up thinking she broke everything. Then, she finds the Emerson's and turns into the person who fixes everything for them. It's a very insightful book, and very quirkey. I love the realness of Anne Tyler's characters.
Ancora una volta la Tyler mette in scena la vita bizzarra e nevrotica di una famiglia americana che, in questo romanzo, viene in contatto per puro caso con una ragazza altrettanto bizzarra, annoiata e con un forte senso di disagio per le regole e le convenzioni. I già fragili equilibri interfamiliari vengono meno ma il legame con la nuova arrivata sembra, inspiegabilmente, non potersi dissolvere.
La lettura procede spedita, senza mai annoiare, grazie ad una straordinaria qualità di scrittura e al
This is the second book by Anne Tyler I have read and her style must not be my cup of tea. The writing is excellent and compels you to keep reading but for me it is to find out more about the characters and that never seems to happen. I must not be good at extrapolation from the data that is given me because I just can't love them or even keep up with them. I longed to know more about Elizabeth as she touched the lives of the people around her but she remained an unreadable personality. I am sur ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
The blurb of this book quotes several reviews calling the authoress "a magical writer", "funny" etc. Perhaps some of her other books may be all that and more, but I found this book unfinishable, if that's a word. (And if it wasn't, it is now.)True, she evokes dysfunctional families very well, and if stultifying family dynamics are your thing, you'll enjoy it. Having been raised in one myself, they're not mine; I had enough of that thirty years ago.

I've waded through more than half of this book
Elizabeth Abbott, a college senior, just happened to be passing old Mrs. Emerson's house in Baltimore the day she fired her handyman. She stopped to help and became the new handyman. The story covers a ten year period, and accounts of the 8 Emerson "children". Elizabeth during this time, and the outcome of her marrying Matthew and living with Mrs. Emerson in the old house.

Everyone in the book is a little peculiar and the ending is a little abrupt and strange. Because it is so strange you have to
Elena Benvenuti
"... E tutti, senza volerlo, continuavano a parlare al posto della signora Emerson:
- Che bello essere di nuovo a casa! -, dichiarò Mary. Poi se ne rese conto e scoppiò a ridere.
La signora Emerson sollevò la testa:
- Sento... - disse.
- Cosa senti? Senti caldo? - chiese Matthew.
- Senti freddo? - chiese Mary.
- Ti senti strana? - le suggerì Andrew.
La signora Emerson li spiazzò tutti.
- Sento l'estate - disse. Poi chiuse gli occhi, quasi fosse delusa di aver fatto un'affermazione così inutile dopo tant
Mrs. Pamela Evans lives a lonely new widowhood outside of Baltimore, with only a house full of ticking clocks for company. Then she hires eccentric Elizabeth
Abbott as a handyman and both discover that parts don't have to be a perfect match to work.

"Anne Tyler is a magical writer."


From the Paperback edition.
I had no idea what to think of this book. First I hated it and thought it was boring. it seemed to have no plot, and all the characters were just weird and extremely disfuncti
Rachel Brand
The quote on the front cover of my copy of this book sums this story up perfectly:

"Her brilliance in capturing the ripples on the surface of family life gives her a claim to be the Jane Austen of our age." --Allison Pearson, Daily Mail

Anne Tyler is fantastic at giving glimpses into ordinary family life. The quirks and contradictions and dysfunction that exist in every family despite how hard we try to find them. A large part of the novel is shown from the perspective of Elizabeth, an outsider wh
Inizialmente io e questa storia non ci siamo proprio capite. Lei procedeva dritta per la sua strada, troppo dritta per i miei gusti, senza darmi indizi, senza farmi arrivare da nessuna parte e senza farmi presagire nessun tipo di stravolgimento. Poi, a un certo punto, ecco il colpo di scena. Improvviso, secco, sconvolgente, senza capo né coda. Nulla a cui aggrapparsi, nessuna spiegazione. Procedendo però si capisce che la polpa del romanzo, di questo modo di raccontare, è riconoscere l'eclatante ...more
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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's nineteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts a ...more
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The Accidental Tourist A Spool of Blue Thread Breathing Lessons Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Digging to America

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“He had begun to have spells lately of worrying that he had died, and that everyone knew it but him.” 1 likes
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