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The Clock Winder
Anne Tyler
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The Clock Winder

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  2,930 Ratings  ·  148 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.

Paperback, 0 pages
Published January 15th 1986 by Berkley (first published 1972)
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(showing 1-30)
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Sep 25, 2009 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit
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
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
Mar 31, 2008 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 23, 2012 Arwen56 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 23, 2012 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, audible
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.
Sep 01, 2012 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
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
Jan 14, 2017 Bridget rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another Ann Tyler and another absorbing and thoughtful read. I got all swept away with the family in this book, a bunch of nutty but lovely, well for the most part people. Elizabeth, the handyman, is the heroine of the story. She enables the rest of the family to be as eccentric as anything while she calmly fixes the things they own but also fixes them along the way. There is a lot of love in this story, and everyone loves Elizabeth, and who can blame them.

If you are an Ann Tyler fan you'll lov
Jan 11, 2012 Bonnie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 18, 2017 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. I can't give an Anne Tyler book anything less than a five star (except for one!). This one was sadder than most of them, and then ending was just a leeetle bit sketchy. But it's Anne Tyler and all's well that ends well.
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
Kara Hansen
I love Anne Tyler's novels, having read many of them over the years. This novel is from her earlier years (1972), and I found this one the one I have liked the least. I had a hard time understanding some of the characters~ while they seemed like significant characters, there was nothing significant about them. Elizabeth being one of them, as well as Timothy. It was hard to get to know them, and to develop feelings or empathy towards them.
However, I have given this book 3 stars, mainly because An
“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
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
Sep 09, 2008 Molly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2009 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 14, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After three previous Anne Tyler reads which I completely failed to enjoy, I have finally read one I like. The book begins with quirky Mrs. Emerson firing her handyman. He is her last loyal retainer from her life with her husband and children. She doesn't even know why she fired him, but can't take it back. When a girl named Elizabeth happens by and offers to help her move her patio furniture, she takes a liking to her and hires her as the new handyman. They adapt surprisingly well to each other ...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
Aug 15, 2011 Labmom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anne-tyler
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.
Jun 09, 2011 Carmen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popular-fiction
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in people, psychology
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.
Cynthia Sillitoe
I really didn't like anything about this rather tedious book. At one point, a character wonders if she brought home the wrong baby from the hospital. I wonder if they put Anne Tyler's name on someone else's book?
Natasha Lane
My first book by this author but certainly not my last. Ms. Tyler has such a way of bringing characters to life it seems they are standing right in the room with you. From Elizabeth's easy, Southern, sunny disposition to Mrs. Emerson's fussy, loving, and overbearing manner, Ms. Tyler made this book into a play acting out before my very eyes.

The story starts off so simple, so easy. I had no clue where it was going to lead which speaks to the author's subtle style of writing. The events that unfol
May 04, 2017 Terri rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand the other ratings. This was a boring, un-ending book about ????
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
Nov 17, 2016 Keely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prim-and-proper Mrs. Emerson is struggling to cope after the loss of her husband when a young, self-assured woman named Elizabeth happens by, offers to help move some patio furniture, and accidentally becomes Mrs. Emerson's live-in "handyman." Elizabeth, a drifting college drop-out, really does have a way with mending and handling things around the house, but she also has a stabilizing effect on Mrs. Emerson and her gaggle of high-strung grown children who occasionally pass through. Easy-going E ...more
Aug 12, 2016 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-reads
Elizabeth Gillespie drops out of college and offers her help with odd jobs to widowed Mrs. Emerson.
Elizabeth, who seems to be clumsy and unreliable elsewhere in the world, becomes heavily relied upon, not only by Mrs. Emerson but all of her children who come and go. There's Timothy, the medical student who finally gets kicked out of school for cheating. Andrew, Timothy's twin who has a few mental problems. There's Matthew, who lives alone in a house that belonged to his father and Peter, the co
Oct 27, 2009 Awallens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2011 Ardesia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xxxbc
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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