A Patchwork Planet
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A Patchwork Planet

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  7,888 ratings  ·  390 reviews
In this, her fourteenth novel--and one of her most endearing--Anne Tyler tells the story of a lovable loser who's trying to get his life in order.

Barnaby Gaitlin has been in trouble ever since adolescence. He had this habit of breaking into other people's houses. It wasn't the big loot he was after, like his teenage cohorts. It was just that he liked to read other people'

Audio Cassette, Abridged, 0 pages
Published April 14th 1998 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 1998)
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I believe I've admitted to reading all of Anne Tyler's books, several of them more than once. I just reread A Patchwork Planet, and I'm dumbstruck again. Like no other author I know, Tyler is a master of the emotional sandbag. She blindsides you, saps you in the skull when you don't see it coming (even if you've already read the book!), and you need to take a brief time-out to recover from being a blubbering fool. In this paperback edition, if you don't experience an epiphany by page sixty-one,...more
The critics say that Anne Tyler writes novels with quirky characters. I say that we are all quirky characters. Certainly, I grew up with and am a member of a family of quirky characters. I find the characters in Anne Tyler's novels real, they are people one meets everyday.

As I began to read this novel, I thought about days when I lived in the pages of Anne Tyler's novels. My trips to the library always took me to the same section, where I fingered the titles looking for favorite or unread novel...more
Galen Johnson
This book follows thirty year-old divorced father, never graduated college, manual laborer Barnaby Gaitlin through a year of growing up. Barnaby works for a company that aids the elderly and others with heavy lifting and big chores, leading to many interesting minor characters in the novel. Barnaby realizes that he is not living up to his potential both in his parents' eyes and in his own, although for different reasons. He meets a slightly older woman, Sophia, on the train and begins a friendsh...more
Stephanie Holcomb
I love Goodreads. You can click on "I'm finished" which does not necessarily mean you have completed the book to the final page.

I CANNOT stand it when, 187 pages into a book, the main character takes a turn that you absolutely can't see them taking. You think you know a guy...

I had my doubts reading this, really. Its horribly written. Time passed too fast and scenes were over in a few pages, nothing was drawn out and no agreeing with a character over their choices. In fact, choices weren't reall...more
not quite 3 stars

This book started out just fine. I started reading and found interesting characters, a pleasant writing style, and some very engaging dialogue. All good, right? Well, somewhere it took a turn, because I had to keep pushing myself to finish reading the darn thing.

Here’s the problem. I like what happens in a book to be meaningful in some way. I don’t want to read a bunch of random incidents that in no way help to impel the story forward. Anne Tyler has a habit of throwing a lot o...more
This isn't my favorite Anne Tyler book, but even so, it is an enjoyable read because her characterizations are so good. She seems to see all the foibles and failings of her characters, and helps us like them anyway. Barnaby Gaitlin is stuck in a position most of us probably understand--that of feeling like he is not living up to his own or others' expectations of him. How he makes peace with himself and his demanding family is a funny and interesting journey.
Sometimes I feel like apologizing for liking Anne Tyler but this book in particular is truly wonderful - I'm not terribly great at reviews but it has the hallmarks of things I generally value in a book - wonderful characters who stay with you, and the amazing ability to tightrope-walk between funny and sad without ever becoming maudlin or flippant.
I read this book many years ago and liked it, so when I saw it on tape at the library for $1 I picked it up to listen to it again. I didn't care for it so much this time. It is basically the story of a man who has been a disappointment to himself and his family trying to redeem himself and find a way to a happier life. There were some inappropriate things in it, but mostly this time I found the main character a little annoying! I don't want to disuade anyone from reading it- maybe I just didn't...more
I love quirky characters with substance and Anne Taylor delivers. I found myself dancing around the outer edge of who the main character, Barnaby Caitlin, is. Coming from a family of wealth and prominence, he is the self ordained black sheep. Trying to find his place in life, he has to wade through his childhood baggage. He works for the company 'Rent-a-Back' that offers their services in helping the elderly with things they no longer can do for themselves - from simple chores to weekly shopping...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barnaby is a man who doesn't fit in. He is from a rich family, but doesn't live up to the family's expectations. Instead he works at a place that hires people for jobs for people who can't do them themselves. This typically means older people. It's a great concept, but definitely not well-paying. His marriage didn't go well; he is divorced. His daughter is detached from him, doesn't even call him Dad. And then Barnaby meets Sophia. It is a strang encounter. A man goes up to people at the Baltimo...more
Aug 17, 2013 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes contemporary fiction
Recommended to Mary by: Library Book Sale
Barnaby Gaitlin is a loser - a charming, lovable loser, perhaps - but a loser nonetheless. As a teenager, he had a bad habit of breaking into other people's houses. Although, it was never about stealing like it was for his teenage cohorts; Barnaby just liked to read other people's mail, pore over their family photo albums, and appropriate a few of their precious mementos. He had been in trouble ever since adolescence, but now, at just short of thirty years old, he was attempting to get his life...more
Carolyn Agosta
I read the last page, sighed, and said "What a great story!", thus waking my husband and drawing his wrath (we were both extremely jet-lagged at the time). It was that good.

It's so easy to get jaded about books today - often the books touted on the bestseller lists are, well, less than impressive. Then comes along a book like A Patchwork Planet, reviving my delight in reading. Original characters, situations, problems - yet so relatable. Barnaby touched me with his impetuous kindnesses, his slid...more
I can't remember why I started reading Anne Tyler books years ago, maybe it was our shared name. But I've read at least a half dozen of them now and never been disappointed. If there are other authors who do as good a job at making ordinary people so endearing, I haven't come across them.

A Patchwork Planet is the story of a sort of grown-up misfit who's trying to overcome his past. It's told in the first person, which I always enjoy. (Remember The Rainmaker by John Grisham? Great opening line: "...more
Sharon Zink
I will read anything by Ann Tyler. She takes the simplest event and turn it into a plot: a male baby-sitter who becomes enmeshed with the family he works for; a client getting a crush on a travel agent while booking a trip; or, in the case of this book, a young ne'er do well trying to turn his life around. He is a college drop-out, divorced, under employed. Captivating.
Loved this book! From the beginning descriptions of the angelic Sophia to the everyday routine of Barnaby Tyler has crafted a beautifully written book. I especially enjoyed all the encounters with Barnaby's older customers. Each quirky character was described insightfully. Tyler also illustrates masterfully how we are defined by expectations. There are many instances where expectations override truth. Recommended!
This is by far my favorite Anne Tyler book and one I would love to read again. It is humorous and down to earth with quirky, flawed characters I would love to meet! The main character, Barnaby Gaitlin, is a lovable, kind-hearted man struggling to find his place in the world. He works for a company that primarily helps the elderly with household chores, runs errands, and most importantly just listens! His family is disappointed in him even though he is happy and content. His girlfriend is a littl...more
I've been disappointed with Anne Tyler in the past so really didn't expect to like this book. But I absolutely loved it. The main character/narrator is Barnaby, a 30 year old loser in his family's eyes (especially his mother's!), due to his brushes with the law as a teenager and the fact that he owes his parents over $8K for bailing him out all those years ago, not to mention that he works at a job that is below his wealthy family's high standards. But you see through his own eyes that Barnaby r...more
I'm not saying this book doesn't have its share of LOL moments -- and the writing definitely doesn't suck -- but there's this whole borderline existential, emotionless feel running throughout, which would be fine if it weren't written by a woman, or if it were written by a woman successfully writing from a man's point of view... but I don't think that's what the author was going for.

It's just sort of there: sequences of words on pages, with some vague plot and occasional insight thrown in occas...more
Taken from Wikipedia:

"The novel is narrated with 29-year-old Barnaby, whose life has gone off the rails since he was caught robbing neighborhood homes as an adolescent. To the despair of his distant father, his social-climbing mother, his chilly ex-wife and his prematurely patriarchal brother, Barnaby now works for a company called Rent-a-Back, doing odd jobs for elderly clients. He also waits, without much hope, for a visitation from the Gaitlin angel, who first suggested to Barnaby's great-gra...more
I kept reading and reading, waiting for this book to get good. But it always felt like nothing was happening. The romances felt forced, the family dynamic was uninteresting and I never really understood Barnaby, the main character. Why did he steal things? Why did he sleep with his co-worker when he had no attraction to her? Why did do the things that I felt that he had no reason to do? I kept reading mostly because I didn't absolutely hate it, but I can't say I really enjoyed the experience eit...more
This is not the first time I've read this book. I don't know when I read it before, but likely a little over 20 years ago, when I was roughly the same age at the protagonist, Barnaby Gaitlin. I enjoyed the book well enough the first time, but I *loved* it this time.

The first time around, though I could see his good points, Barnaby exasperated me. I was annoyed with his passivity and lack of self-awareness. I was annoyed by his willful self-hatred: Why did he fixate on the insults and put-downs o...more
I really enjoyed this book, though I have to admit I was surprised (and a little confused) when Barnaby started going out with Sophia. She seemed like an old lady the way she was described, but I was probably not paying close enough attention to that initial description. ;)

I loved the stories about the old people he did chores for as part of his employment...but at the same time I could see the sadness in their lives, even if they were entertaining to read about.
Virpi Ahonen
Let's face it - I read a lot of cr*p. Which is why it is such a pleasure to read someone like Anne Tyler; from the very first page you know you are in good hands and can just relax into it. The reason I am only giving it 4 stars is completely selfish - it is a rather melancholy book, as hers tend to be, and I was not looking to get melancholic.
Uthpala Dassanayake
A Patchwork Planet is another nice piece of work by Anne Tyler. I love the way she shift a character slightly away from norm and build the story around that to reveal true feelings and behaviors we all have. Here Barnaby is not too eccentric like in “Celestial navigation” or in “Saint Maybe” so the reader does not get weary of trying to digest unreasonable behavior.
At times Mrs. Gaitlin manner is too much for a sensible mother. Also Sophia’s “definiteness” is not visible throughout but sort of...more
Sarah Pavlina
Tyler's concept of the dialogue a 3o year old man would use, even in the mid-nineties, is laughable.
Noelle M
The main character was so well drawn I felt like I knew the guy from some place. He was surprised to find out he'd grown up when he wasn't looking. I was in my mid-30s when I discovered some things about my life that I'd not noticed, and just assumed had not changed since I was a teen. Gloming on to some facet of human nature is her forte. Well done, bravo, and all that stuff. Very enjoyable story.

BTW, I read she thought Dinner At The Homesick Restaurant was her best work. I didn't think that at...more
Laura Holland
One of my favorite Anne Tyler books.
Mar 17, 2011 Debra marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Stephen King recommended.
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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 and...more
More about Anne Tyler...
The Accidental Tourist Breathing Lessons Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant Digging to America Saint Maybe

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