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The Beginner's Goodbye

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  18,057 ratings  ·  2,859 reviews
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Anne Tyler gives us a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel about loss and recovery, pierced throughout with her humor, wisdom, and always penetrating look at human foibles.
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron grew up fending off a sister who constantly wanted to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, an outspoken, independent you
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Ballantine Books (first published April 3rd 2012)
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Desiree Woodland It mixes sorrow with hope... Learning how to live without someone beloved is hard work and is not the life we thought we would have, but it isn't the …moreIt mixes sorrow with hope... Learning how to live without someone beloved is hard work and is not the life we thought we would have, but it isn't the only life worth living. (less)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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 ·  18,057 ratings  ·  2,859 reviews

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Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2018-completed
In a novel that is as inspiring and uplifting as it is sad and deeply touching, Anne Tyler approaches loss and grief from the perspective of Aaron Woolcott. When he was a toddler, Aaron experienced a flu that left him physically handicapped on the right side of his body. He was so young that he adapted, although his mother and sister didn’t. They attempted to coddle him and “do” for him which set him up for a lifetime of escaping any displays of concern, and often even of kindness.

Aaron narrates
Hmmm. Has anyone else noticed the obsession with clothing that 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 di ...more
Lynne Spreen
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Susan's Reviews
Anne Tyler described herself as an "outsider" when she first moved away from home to study (and eventually made a name for herself as a writer.) During her youth, she had lived with her Quaker parents in communes and had never used a phone until her family finally left commune life behind. Tyler went to University, eventually met her husband, had two daughters, and started writing her novels. Her husband, Taghi Modarressi, died in 1997.

The Beginner's Goodby was published in 2012, many years aft
Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*
EXCERPT: The strangest thing about my wife's return from the dead was how other people reacted.

We were strolling through Belvedere Square, for instance, on an early spring afternoon when we met our old neighbour, Jim Rust. "Well, what do you know," he said to me. "Aaron!" Then he noticed Dorothy beside me. She stood peering up at him with one hand shielding her forehead from the sun. His eyes widened and he turned to me again.

I said, "How's it going, Jim?"

Visibly, he pulled himself together. "
Elyse  Walters
A few positives
But not my favorite Anne Tyler book.

I’ve owned the hard copy for years - thought it might be a light uplifting read with some Anne Tyler substance.

Aaron’s wife died.
And the story begins.

Aron’s marriage was broken.... details unravel....

Another “okay” “alright”, book..
but nothing to sing home about

As my friend Paula said in a comment in another (less than inspiring book), that I read recently......
She said: “sounds like it was uneven and uneventful!

Yep: uneventful .... FOR S
Anne Tyler's writing is impeccable as always. But I felt like this story just lacked the emotional oomph that her stories usually have. It was quite short, but I don't think that is its major fault. For me it was hard to imagine Aaron, our narrator, as a 35-year-old man in mid 2000's Baltimore. He spoke like someone twice his age and it was difficult for me to separate Tyler's authorial voice from her character's in this instance. Overall this story just felt underdeveloped, and, while pleasant ...more
Ryan Field
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Helene Jeppesen
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
3.5, rounded up.

Signature Anne Tyler. She knows how to get to the heart of a person in the first five pages and make you truly care about the everyday minutia of his life. I cannot ever remember reading an Anne Tyler that I didn’t like. This was no exception.
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jan 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
The Beginner's Goodbye wasn't bad although it wasn't memorable either. Thankfully, it was short and the narrator, Kirby Heyborne, was easy on the ear.

I like stories about ordinary people. Tyler is the undisputed queen of the domestic novel. Unfortunately, midway through, I sort of got bored with our narrator, the thirty-seven-year-old Aaron, who's a widower. He's reminiscing about his deceased wife, who was relatively odd and eight years his senior. While he's distraught by her passing, he comes
♥ 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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read many of Anne Tyler's books and I always love the characters she creates. The characters in this book, The Beginner's Goodbye, were no exception. Socially awkward, often rigid in their routines and ways of thinking and unable to communicate with each other, Aaron Woolcott and Dr. Dorothy Rosales, husband and wife and the main characters in this story, were often exasperating, sometimes sympathetic and ultimately endearing, very human characters.

This book starts off with a typical day
May 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 12, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading The Beginner's Goodbye, probably the best one of the novels I've read by Anne Tyler. The narrator is a thirty-something man whose wife is killed in an accident. He terribly misses her to the point of seeing and talking with her ghost. There's lots of good, clean humor and quirky support characters. Ms. Tyler has an eye for catching the wonderful details of daily life. Her Baltimore setting is spot-on. It's a captivating summertime read. Loved it. ...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
Diane S ☔
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on a bit of a savage Anne Tyler reading spree. In fact, this is my fourth novel of hers in a month. When I saw this, her newest, at the used book store, I let out a little squeal of delight (it's okay, that whole book store is full of freaks).

Okay, so now you have context: I was interested, I was excited, I am an Anne Tyler fan.

So, what happened? The first problem I encountered, immediately, was discovering that this novel was written in the first-person. Well, Ms. Tyler is one of thos
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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. She has published 20 novels, her debut novel being If Morning Ever Comes in (1964). Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons , was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a mem ...more

Articles featuring this book

A grieving man grapples with visitations from his dead wife in The Beginner's Goodbye, a new book from the fiction master who wrote The Accidental...
65 likes · 18 comments
“People who hadn't suffered a loss yet struck me as not quite grown up.” 43 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.” 33 likes
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