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Searching for Caleb

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  5,069 Ratings  ·  147 Reviews
"Magic and true, dazzling and wise...It has an astounding confidence, depth and range...A wonderful, wonderful novel."


Duncan Peck has a fascination for randomness and is always taking his family on the move. His wife, Justine, is a fortune teller who can't remember the past. Her grandfather, Daniel, longs to find the brother who walked out of his life in 19
ebook, 336 pages
Published February 23rd 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published 1975)
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helen the bookowl
This book was good, but not one of Tyler's strongest works. It deals with Justine who is a fortune teller. But it also deals with all of her family who are somewhat puzzling, but overall endearing.
It's funny how this novel comes with a mixture of strong and amusing parts as well as long, dull parts. I especially loved reading about Justine's childhood and her finding a husband, but I didn't particularly care about her fortune telling present which I couldn't really relate to. Justine is a somew
Elizabeth (Alaska)
In 1912, Caleb Peck walked away from his family and from Baltimore and was never heard of again. Some 50+ years later, his brother Daniel and great niece start tracking down leads to try to find him.
"If I could just walk to church with him once more," he told her, "only this time, paying closer attention, don't you see. If I could pass by the Salter Academy and look in the window and see him wave, or hear him play that foolish messy music of his on the piano in the parlor—if they could just giv
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I think this is the most beautifully written book I have ever read. I can open to any page and get drawn in. Bittersweet and inspiring.
Ayelet Waldman
I read this as I finished the final rewrites for my book that is now called Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. Anne Tyler is a perfect role model for me as a writer. High aspirations are good for a person. I liked this book very much, despite the fact that the main character is a fortune-teller. I usually hate free spirits, and I was afraid she'd be one. But she was significantly less of a twit than I had feared.
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by Anne Tyler. I tried reading Saint Maybe a couple months back and really couldn't get into it. That's not the case at all with Searching for Caleb, which was a fantastic book. I knew about halfway through that it was going to be a 5-star book for me. The only way I would have knocked any stars off is if Tyler had pulled a Stephen King on me and vomited up an ending that made absolutely no sense. I'm happy to say that did not happen.

This is a story about the Pec
Aug 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy Anne Tyler's writing. This is one of her earlier books (1976) and you can tell. Her characters are more stereotypical and the plot less complex and more predictable than her later books.

However, i did enjoy her portrayal of the repressed Brahmin WASP Baltimore family who allowed no one out of the family and rarely allowed anyone in -- an occasional similar wife might be an exception.

Her story focuses on the 3 rebels who do manage to leave the family because they cannot live with
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read several books by Anne Tyler and I've enjoyed each and every one of them. Her work stands out because of well-developed characters, her exceptional ability with the English language, and the fact that each of her books has a personality all its own. This early work is probably the best Tyler I've read so far.

As with much of her writing, this novel charts the course of a family, in this instance the Pecks. In a review for the NEW YORK TIMES published in January of 1975, Katha Pollitt sa
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa
Una famiglia americana, i Peck di Baltimora, un clan alla Kennedy, legati dalle tradizioni che si trasmettono di generazione in generazione e soggetti alle convenzioni borghesi americane, una famiglia che sforna esemplari sempre uguali a sé stessi, che si ripetono di padre in figlio, sia nell’aspetto fisico che nelle abitudini di vita e nelle attività lavorative: i Peck sono avvocati da generazioni.
All’interno di questa famiglia vi è uno strappo, uno dei suoi membri, Caleb, improvvisamente scomp
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the first Anne Tyler book I've read, though she has been recommended to me more than once. I didn't really connect with this book, and am still contemplating what the deeper meaning behind the story could be...

On the surface, the story of a wacky, and in my mind, pitiful woman from a large, closed Baltimore family who marries her cousin and then spends her life being dragged (and dragging her poor grandfather) from one ramshackle, cheap rental to another is not at all relatable and entir
Shana Kennedy
Aug 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Tyler is an unfailingly good storyteller. How does she create such absorbing characters, who are so odd and unique, yet completely understandable to the reader? Duncan and Justine Peck are exactly these types of characters, complete eccentrics who win our hearts. Their story has levels of the day-to-day mundane - peanut-butter sandwiches, ill-fitting clothes, U-Hauls; but it is colored by the extremes of their lifestyles, a prim-and-proper dysfunctional extended family, gypsy-type traveling ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I really like reading books by Anne Tyler. She is a very good story teller, and very observant about the way people talk to and react to each other. This particular book has some connections with the other books about Boston and New England that I have been reading lately. The concept of "family", and keeping things in the "family", and never changing anything that the "family" has passed down across the generations is evident in this book, as well as in The Late George Apley. This story, howeve ...more
Geo Forman
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How often do you finish a book smiling with a warm feeling? Have you ever heard of a "bread and butter note"? A close-knit family with its own set of black sheep and eccentrics growing up in Baltimore in the early and mid 1950's. Although my rating says "amazing" that is a bit extreme but it deserves better than the next rating of "I really liked it". I loved the book. The people were real and fun with their own share of misery who managed to always overcome. My second Anne Tyler book but not my ...more
Karen S
Oct 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember really liking this book, the first by Anne Tyler that I ever read. She catches you by surprise: you're reading along, following where the story leads, and then suddenly you're laughing out loud on the crowded subway during rush hour at the twist of humor in the simple telling of the tale; and then a few minutes later, starting to tear up. I've read a few of her others, but I have especially warm memories of this one. Read it mid- to late-70s, not sure exactly when.
Bonnie Walker
This is one of my favorite books of Anne Tyler and one of my all time favorites. I have read it numerous times. Justine is a fortune teller, but no body takes her advice even though they return again and again. She has an interesting marriage also. The book plot is actually about her travels with her grandfather searching for a brother who left home and disappeared without a trace decades ago. This is a many layered book.
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne Tyler captures such interesting personalities, feelings and places. Even though I have a hard time with some of her characters, the writing pulls you in to get to know and love them. You want them to be different than they are, yet you love them--such intricate family relationships!
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this story to be too long and repetitive. By the end I had forgotten how it had started and why I had chosen it.
Yet another great book by Tyler.

I'll say again that her knack for characters is just spot on in everything of hers that I've read so far, Searching for Caleb included.
The Pecks are on the move again as Duncan can't bear to stay in one place or one job for too long. His wife Justine is a fortune teller and her big mission is to help her Grandfather find his brother Caleb who no one has seen in 50 years.

I found this book dragged in the middle as it went in to the background of the family in great detail. I loved the beginning and the end but felt it got stuck. The characters were well drawn and the family dynamic was fascinating. Anne Tyler always makes me refl
May 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many unlike able characters that this was a bit of a slog to read.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the author's earlier works from 1975. When I sat to read this, I realized I had read it many years ago. While I enjoyed it, I enjoy her later works much better. It is well written. Apparently, a movie was made from this book. I found this a touch dated but still enjoyable. It was nice to see how she has grown as an author. I love her later works and highly recommend them. So if this is your first book by the author, please keep that in mind.
Family, you can never leave nor forsake them. Anne Tyler's "Searching for Caleb" examines family ties and the impact they so blatantly have on you. Tyler's use of wavering characters, Justine and her husband Duncan, explain how their misplacement did not necessarily exclude them from their " perfect family".

Throughout the story Tyler describes how indecisive Justine and Duncan were, and how they both desperately longed for for what seemed to be an epiphany. After moving away from their family
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More quirky characters and events to ponder!
Lisa (Harmonybites)
May 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tyler Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Liz's Gift
A friend gave me a Anne Tyler omnibus that included Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons and Searching for Caleb. Searching for Caleb, the last novel in the book, was my least favorite of the three. Tyler is a gifted writer with a clean style, writing with humor and insight, and features characters that are rounded, real and very strikingly individual, from minor secondary characters to the major ones, like Daniel, and his grandchildren, cousins married to each other, Duncan and Justine Peck.

Aug 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
L'essenza di questo libro sta tutta nella parola "diversa" che è nel titolo.
In tutte le pagine è un contrapporre il concetto di "normalità" a quello della "diversità", intesa semplicemente come ribellione a canoni già stabiliti.
La famiglia Peck di Baltimora è facoltosa, i suoi membri sono "normali" cioè seri, posati, "inquadrati" nel senso del dovere e nel rispetto delle tradizioni di famiglia. Justine, la protagonista, sviluppa da subito un rifiuto per tutto ciò che è convenzionale: si innamo
Gary Garth McCann
In my re-reading of Anne Tyler's body of work, I read this one way out of order, right before reading A Spool of Blue Thread. Coincidentally, both books feature a son who wanders away from--rejects--his immediate and extended family. A New York Times reviewer, Rebecca Pepper Sinkler, gave a positive review to A Spool of Blue Thread that might apply as well to Searching for Caleb: “Tyler has a knack for turning sitcom situations into something far deeper and more moving. Her great gift is playing ...more
This was not stellar Tyler. It is rare that I don’t like the main character. In this story, I thought Justine was weak. She should have left Duncan, her husband and her first cousin, years ago. He is a total loser and can’t stay with a job. When he does find something he is interested in, it is only a matter of time before he gets bored. The drinking and solitare starts up until he finds something to settle the restlessness. The whole family, including the aunts, the uncles and the cousins are d ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Donna Beckley
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Anne Tyler's characters are not exciting, nor heros, but just ordinary people living their lives. Her books often leave me feeling a bit sad although she usually ends on a note which gives you a bit of hope for her characters. The people in her books are usually a litte quirky. Duncan and Justine and Daniel, Justine's grandfather, are searching for Daniel's brother Caleb, who left home 70 odd years ago and has never been heard from again. This provides the storyline, but the main theme is how th ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Searching for Caleb is a story about a family. The Peck family. The Pecks are a closed set, satisfied with their own company. For whatever reason, the Pecks rarely associate with others and when they do, it is in a most peculiar fashion. The few outliers, the escapees - Justine, Duncan, Caleb - have gone out into the world, but cannot deny the pull of the family unit.

The story focuses on Justine and Duncan and how they hold orbit around the rest of the family, simultaneously running from and to
Mary Hogan
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: influences
One night in my college dorm, I wandered into the communal living space and saw a dog-eared paperback sitting on a shelf. I picked it up, turned to page one, and my life changed forever. It was the first book I could not put down. Searching For Caleb stunned me with its intimacy. I felt as though I knew the characters personally. I remember reading lines over and over because they were so beautifully-written I wanted to memorize them. That night, in that dorm, I fell hopelessly in love with Anne ...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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