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The Beginner's Goodbye

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  14,377 Ratings  ·  2,453 Reviews
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 Do
Hardcover, 197 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Knopf (first published 2012)
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Apr 10, 2012 Gerald rated it it was amazing
Some fans complain this book is too short. So read it twice. Actually, that's not a facetious comment. The second time through, slow down. You needn't be at all concerned about what happens next. Marvel at Anne Tyler's spare style. And ask yourself why it's not the same as other authors who limit themselves to twenty-word sentences, no more than two clauses per. It should be plain-vanilla tenth-grade stuff. It should be boring and insipid. But there's something else going on here. Something gets ...more
Apr 13, 2012 Fionnuala rated it liked it
Hmmm. Has anyone else noticed the obsession with clothing which runs through this book? The characters are all described in terms of what they wear and their choices of clothing tend to stand in sometimes for character development. Irene, admittedly a minor character, is always stylishly dressed, leafing through fashion magazines and rushing off to catch some sale at a clothing store. That is pretty much all we are told about her. Dorothy, one of the leading characters, is defined by her total d ...more
Glenn Sumi

What's up with the covers for Anne Tyler's The Beginner's Goodbye? On the front of my edition, there's a gently lit photo of a slim young woman wearing a soft white blouse reading a book on a bed. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS NOVEL. I don't know who this woman could be. She's certainly not Dorothy, who's described as short, stocky and Latina. She's not Aaron's sister, Nandina. Is she supposed to be the book's ideal reader? Oh wai
Lynne Spreen
Apr 27, 2013 Lynne Spreen rated it it was amazing
After reading some of the reviews, I felt a bit off-kilter, as if I'm seeing something that wasn't intended by the author.

Nevertheless, here's my impression: this story is about a man who, because of his physical limitations, resists closeness with other people, to the point that he marries a woman who seems certain to want the same, arm's length relationship. It's only after she dies that he begins to sense that he was wrong about that. During the grieving process, he comes to realize he's bee
Ryan Field
Apr 19, 2012 Ryan Field rated it it was amazing
Unless you've actually experienced a horrific event in your life that is so shocking it not only defines your past but also your future, it might be difficult to grasp the magnitude of The Beginner's Goodbye. In other words, that one day in your life...or maybe even minute...that defines everything about you and tests you, where there was your life before the event and then your life after the event. People who have experienced these sudden losses, so strange by nature they never could have been ...more
Mar 12, 2012 Tressa rated it really liked it
"Anne could write about any city. She could never leave the house and write great fiction. She beautifully captures regular people who are not trying to be noticed. She writes about real life." —John Waters on his friend and fellow Baltimorean, Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler's new book, The Beginner's Goodbye, has all the ingredients of a successful Tyler book: quirky characters, family dysfunction, an introspective protagonist, a tragedy, a coping, and a rebirth. While I don't feel like this slim volume
helen the bookowl
As can be seen from my rating, this book was my least favourite of Anne Tyler's so far. Not because it was necessarily bad, but because it was the one that affected me the least. It deals with Aaron's loss of his wife and how he deals with his loss, and I think that if I had just lost someone myself, this novel could act as a kind of catharsis for me. But as that is not the case (luckily!), I merely felt like this was a long story about Aaron's thoughts, hopes and doubts and I wasn't much into i ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
So, had I rated this book when I finished reading it (two weeks ago), it would have had two stars, maybe with a qualification that it should be a star and a half, but the rating system doesn't work that way. At the time I finished it, I was left feeling like the story was too sparse and disjointed, and too taken up with a character who I didn't really like hanging out with. The entire book felt that way, really- like I was sort of stuck on a bus with a long winded, hyper polite but hyper critica ...more
♥ Sandi
From the woman who brings characters and the everyday alive, comes a disabled man who loses his wife to a terrible accident - a falling tree. As we wind our way through the story about Aaron and Dorothy we are shown the most intimate parts of their marriage. But it is only through her death that Aaron is able to really understand and appreciate Dorothy. Through his grief Aaron believes that Dorothy comes back to talk with him.
Anne Tyler is the most amazing author of the everyday life that I hav
Jun 23, 2012 Karen rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2012 Teresa rated it liked it
3 and 1/2 stars

Anne Tyler is, of course, great at characters, but she's also great at endings, even when you've guessed what's probably coming. It's not that the ending is predictable, but that you've spotted the clues before the main character does so. You would've missed them too, if you were him. Aaron sees but doesn't perceive, then he does perceive but doesn't see, and then he has to do it all over again. But in doing it again, you know more, and also know that this time it should, at least
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I almost decided I didn't want to finish it. I agreed to be part of a bookray for this book. I was a fourth of the way into the story and I wasn't interested at all. I didn't care about the characters, I realized; I'll just close the book and send the book on to the next reader.

Only there was no sending the book on. I was the last reader and the
instructions specified that the last reader was to keep the book and pass
it on as she wished.

It just didn't seem respectful to pass on a book that I didn
Mar 01, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it
Grief Primer?

Tyler is one of my favorite writers and has been for some time. “The Beginner’s Goodbye” is probably her shortest novel but it packs a wallop. It’s about almost middle aged Aaron who’s recently lost his wife in an out of the blue accident. Of course Aaron misses her terribly so you can imagine how comforted he feels when he begins running into her at odd times. Every now and then others seem to see her too! He doesn’t mention this to his sister, who is also his business partner in a
Feb 23, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing
Some authors are comfort authors; we return to them again and again for their piercing insights and penetrating looks at what it means to be human. And so it is with me and Anne Tyler. Through books such as Breathing Lessons and Ladder of Years, I have fallen in love with her quirky characters and their well-meaning efforts to muddle through their lives and reach some sort of transcendence.

The Beginner’s Goodbye is a wonderful addition to her works. It’s deceptively simple: a 30-something man na
Elizabeth Ducie
Aug 21, 2013 Elizabeth Ducie rated it really liked it
On 1st April 2012, I was among the audience of around 1000 in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford when Anne Tyler was presented with the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence. It was my first day as a full-time writer and sitting on a window ledge high above the stage, with the sun warming the back of my neck, I couldn't think of a better way to start my new career. Tyler speaks as she writes: so quietly and gently that you have to listen closely to catch the passion in her words.

Like all her
Feb 25, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Beginner's Goodbye is a real return to form for Anne Tyler. Fans of her writing will be delighted to see so many of her signature tropes dusted off and given a new lease of life. There's the socially inept protagonist, his domineering sister who secretly begins dating one of his acquaintances, the flight to the parental home in the face of trauma, the regression to childhood and the coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone.

In many ways this is a remodelling of the plot of one of h
May 07, 2012 Greta rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 09, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
I love Ann Tyler, and this book is a perfect example of why. She could make you love the most curmudgeonly of characters, by peeling off the layers to let you see what lies underneath. This was by far the simplest and sweetest of all her books.
Jan 29, 2014 Cher rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - It was really good.

An interesting, quirky character study that grabbed my attention from the very first sentence. This was the first, but will not be the last book that I pick up by Anne Tyler as I enjoyed her writing style. She was able to tell a very complete and thoughtful story in a relatively short amount of pages (read this one in just 2 sittings).

Favorite Quote: That was one of the worst things about losing your wife, I found: your w
Diane S ☔
Jan 17, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
3.5 An introspective look at the various ways we grieve, the things that go into making us the person we become, and the assumption we make about our roles in a marriage and family. The main character, Aaron, quickly grew on me and I just loved the way he changed throughout the course of this relatively short book. In the beginning I thought this book was only so so but by the end I liked it quite a bit.
Jan 12, 2013 Tequila rated it did not like it
I liked the concept of the book; however when I actually started reading the book I was disappointed. The novel was too slow paced and uneventful for me to enjoy. I should have spent time watching paint dry instead of reading this book to the end. I recommend this book to readers who like enjoy reading books such as the dictionary or any other book that is pretty boring to read...
Mar 01, 2012 Diane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: a-favorite-read
Anne Tyler, in my opinion, is one of those talented authors known for her in-depth character studies. By the time I've finished reading one of her books, I usually feel like her protagonist is someone I have known for a while. Her subjects tend to be quirky, flawed, yet very ordinary, and often they are dealing with a troubling issue.

In her newest novel , The Beginner's Goodbye, which will release next month, the protagonist, Aaron Wolcott, is a man who looks much older than his years. Only in h
Jennifer Lynn
A great read- read it in one day; but, I DO love me some Anne Tyler. I own 11 of her novels, and this one immediately jumps ahead of some of her others to claim one of the top spots in my heart. It was a little bit different than her usual fare. (YES, it still takes place in Baltimore, YES it still deals with family, love, loss, death and relationships) Yet, this book had a MALE protagonist/narrator which I haven't encountered since 'Saint Maybe'. Also, while her books usually take place in the ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Cheryl rated it liked it
Anne Tyler's writing is so smooth and effortless. This would be a good in-between book, sandwiched by challenging or lengthy or exhilarating reads. It helps to recalibrate some internal reading set point.
This reminded me a lot of The Accidental Tourist. The same type of male character, similar circumstance, even involved with a very practical kind of publishing venture. Watch the effects of nature's healing with time, with family, with love, blah de blah. Same sort of predictable formula, a bit
Apr 06, 2012 Debbie rated it really liked it
In her trademark way, Tyler takes a look at the quiet lives of ordinary people. In this case a man in his mid thirties loses his wife in a tragic freak accident. He must come to understand the love he had for her and the true reality of their relationship before he can move on.
Apr 10, 2012 Bayneeta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio
Tyler is, for me, always a satisfying read. Especially liked the narrator for this one--Kirby Heybourne.
Ann Spivack
Jul 23, 2012 Ann Spivack rated it it was amazing
Anne Tyler walks on water as far as I'm concerned. Before this book I read "Portraits of a Marriage," by Sandor Marai and was intensely frustrated by how in 372 pages (372 slow, tedious, joyless pages), Marai gave us a flawed view of a marriage that was hopeless and almost impersonal.
Then I got to read this (thank you universe), and got to marvel, once more, at Tyler's way of bringing a person and a relationship to life in so few words. She carries us on a journey where we live inside the char
Tyler always writes a good story but this one was pretty thin, both figuratively and literally. The narrator publishes short how-to "Beginner's" books and when a co-worker suggests he might find one helpful, he responds "Actually consult one of our books? [...] Those books are not meant to be used. [...] Well, not in any serious way. They're more like... gestures. Things you give to other people." This itself seems like that kind of book, one meant to be sold in gift displays more than actually ...more
Alun Williams
Apr 13, 2012 Alun Williams rated it it was ok
I've never read an Anne Tyler book before, but found the blurb inside the front cover of her new novel intriguing. The opinions on the back lead one to expect something funny, profound and moving. I'm sorry to say that I found "The Beginner's Goodbye" no more than OK, and am left wondering whether the quotes on the back come from reviews of this book or some of the author's earlier works.
This very short novel - a little less than 200 pages - is set in Baltimore and tells the story of narrator Aa
Chris Blake
Sep 16, 2012 Chris Blake rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler's 19th novel, The Beginner's Goodbye, is about holding on and letting go. Aaron Woolcott and his wife, Dorothy, have a typical marriage, with ups and downs, love and pain, and unspoken grudges. One day, after a minor spat, a tree topples over on the sun room of their home, killing Dorothy.

Set in Baltimore, where many of her novels take place, the story centers on the months following Dorothy's death. After 11 years of marriage, Aaron cannot let go. He doggedly goes about his business,
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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
More about Anne Tyler...

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“People who hadn't suffered a loss yet struck me as not quite grown up.” 36 likes
“It’s like the grief has been covered over with some kind of blanket. It’s still there, but the sharpest edges are .. muffled, sort of. Then, ever now and then, I lift the corner of the blanket just to check, and .. whoa! Like a knife! I’m not sure that will ever change.” 26 likes
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