The Beginners' Goodbye
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Beginners' Goodbye

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  9,912 ratings  ·  1,955 reviews
A couples' marriage and the tragedy that befalls them.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published 2012 by Random House Inc.
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Beginners' Goodbye, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Beginners' Goodbye

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Gerald
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
Fionnuala
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
Lynne Spreen
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...more
Tressa
"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...more
Ryan Field
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
Karen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sarah
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
Teresa
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...more
Cynthia
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...more
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...more
Greta
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tj
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...
Jill
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...more
Elizabeth Ducie
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...more
Laura
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.
Diane
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...more
Brian
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...more
Cher
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...more
Cheryl
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...more
Debbie
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.
Bayneeta
Tyler is, for me, always a satisfying read. Especially liked the narrator for this one--Kirby Heybourne.
willaful
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
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...more
Ann Spivack
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...more
Peggy
I think this joins my top five favorite Anne Tyler novels. This book is impossible for me to "review" because you have to understand that Anne Tyler isn't just an author for me - she is perhaps an essential ingredient of life. Like air, water. I've always pondered what would be my desert island book or books and never doubted it would be an Anne Tyler, I just have trouble deciding on one. When I picked up the book I was disappointed because it's slight. Unlike longer works like Dinner at the Hom...more
Chris Blake
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,...more
Kiki
I have been a fan of Anne Tyler forever! Of course, I have my favorites (perennial re-reads!) and this short gem may be one of them.

In the usual Baltimore setting, Aaron Woolcott is a grieving man. He has lost his dear wife, Dorothy, in a tragic freak accident in their home. He has suddenly started encountering Dorothy occasionally in his day to day life: on the street, in the backyard, in the kitchen. This leads him to wonder, why is she here?

Much like Macon Leary in The Accidental Tourist (on...more
Anne Pfeffer
Here's how Anne Tyler starts this book: "The strangest thing about my wife's return from the dead was how other people reacted."

That's right. Aaron Woolcott sees dead people, or rather, he sees his wife, who died when a tree fell on their house. This book is his story of grief, loss, and recovery.

Only Anne Tyler can write a deeply moving scene about a man's epiphany while eating a tin of cookies (well, I guess Proust did it, too). I loved this book for its long, slow, beautiful reveal into a ma...more
Claire M.
I love Anne Tyler. She writes like I wish I could write, with a causal style that seems so easy and isn't, and when you actually take it apart you realize that it's not casual at all. Every word matters. And there's always a great zinger, that one sentence or phrase that ties the seemingly casual four paragraphs together with a "See? This is where I was going."

Given the demise of bookstores (who would have predicted three years ago that I would bemoaning the closure of chains!!!!), I buy actual...more
Karen Alexander


Anne Tyler has been a favorite of mine since I read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant in the early 80s. An aunt I adored gave it to me and told me I would love it. She said Tyler's characters were as wacky as some of our relatives.
I did love it and over the past 25 years I've read most all her books. I find her quirky characters with their sometimes bizarre and unexpected behaviors very endearing and ( dare I admit it ?) sometimes strangely familiar.
That said, I couldn't wait to pick up her l...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Beginner's Goodbye 4 54 Jul 31, 2013 06:11PM  
Mansfield Public ...: The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler 1 5 Jul 15, 2013 01:43PM  
  • An Available Man
  • Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
  • The Grief of Others
  • Grace
  • News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories
  • Wish You Were Here
  • The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns
  • How It All Began
  • Benediction (Plainsong, #3)
  • Once Upon a Time, There Was You
  • Alys, Always
  • The New Republic
  • Home
  • When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
  • The Watch
  • A Glass of Blessings
  • A Good Hard Look
  • The Family Man
457
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 and...more
More about Anne Tyler...
The Accidental Tourist Breathing Lessons Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Digging to America Saint Maybe

Share This Book

“People who hadn't suffered a loss yet struck me as not quite grown up.” 21 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.” 14 likes
More quotes…