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Clock Dance

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  33,765 ratings  ·  4,554 reviews
Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life: when she was eleven and her mother disappeared, being proposed to at twenty-one, the accident that would make her a widow at forty-one. At each of these moments, Willa ended up on a path laid out for her by others.

So when she receives a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot and
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Chatto Windus (first published July 10th 2018)
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Julie I can't help wondering if your book club should kind of expand their horizons a little bit?…moreI can't help wondering if your book club should kind of expand their horizons a little bit?(less)
Gina Willa Cather was a great writer: O Pioneers My Antonia, who didn't get enough attention when she was actively writing. She was a woman in a mostly man…moreWilla Cather was a great writer: O Pioneers My Antonia, who didn't get enough attention when she was actively writing. She was a woman in a mostly man's world,(less)

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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  33,765 ratings  ·  4,554 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 I've read this author for years, her stories won't shake up the world nor cause any great seismic shifts in the Universe. Yet, they are so much about life, people that she treats so ternderly, with so much consideration for the unique individuals they are. Her writings, and this one is no exception, appeal because they are familiar. Her characters could be a family member, a friend, or the person one depends on when help is needed. Her unique talent is an insight into the many different ways ...more
Angela M
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry H
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm around 3.5 stars.

Willa has always let life happen to her.

As a child in the late 1960s, her family lives at the mercy of her tempestuous mother, whose mood swings and disappearances leave everyone on edge, wondering which woman will be present each day. In the late 1970s, as she is planning a course of study in college that fascinates her, her boyfriend has other ideas, which include marriage and her moving to California with him.

As a relatively young widow in the late 1990s, she must suddenl
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars, rounded up

Anne Tyler is a master at writing about the ordinary in an extraordinary way. This is a beautifully told, thought-provoking novel that resonates with emotional depth. Terrific dialogue and well-developed quirky characters also makes it an endearing read. I read this book cover to cover in one day. I loved it. Anne Tyler simply gets women and understands their rich interior life.

Willa is in her early 60’s and has spent her life with strong men (some, including me, might call
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
This story found me following Willa Drake through key moments in her life at the ages of 11, 21, 41, and 61, and it was a journey that elicited empathy from me. Her family has problems with one unreliable parent and the other a passive enabler. Willa’s sister Elaine is only 6 years old when the novel opens and Willa feels responsible for her well-being. Indeed, she takes on a sense that she is responsible for everyone.

When she marries and has children of her own, she vows to ensure they never fe
Glenn Sumi
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
It’s been over a week since I finished Anne Tyler’s latest novel, Clock Dance, and I have to admit: I’m suffering from withdrawal.

I miss her characters. Tyler has the ability to create people of such depth and richness that you’ll swear you know them like friends and family. Even now, when I think of the 8 or 9 Tyler novels I’ve read, I can vividly remember the set-in-his-ways Macon Leary (from The Accidental Tourist), those very different Tull children and their distant mother, Pearl (Dinner A
Katie B
I really enjoyed the first 100 pages or so as the story moved from Willa as a child, later attending college, and then as a wife and mother. The story however lost me when the action moved to Baltimore with Willa flying there to take care of a little girl as her mother is in the hospital. I found most of the characters in the second half of the book annoying and because of that I couldn't really go with the whole story line from that point forward. I liked Willa as a character and enjoyed seeing ...more
Elyse  Walters
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must be a magnet to to saddest...
If there is an ounce of sadness in a story - I latch on tightly.
This story had plenty of it too. It’s not that I was feeling sad every minute, but my god, it killed me right from the start knowing a little girl had to be ‘responsible’ and ‘adult-like’ before she was developmentally prepared or age-appropriate.

Later we visit a familiar theme that women have grappled with for centuries: pleasing others - giving up dreams ( if even clear of them in the first pla
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Anne Tyler “gets” people. Her stories are deceptively simple, but the strength of her writing is in the nuanced interactions between her characters. Clock Dance wasn’t my favourite Anne Tyler, but it still gave me the satisfaction of reading fiction written by a master. The story focuses on different slices in the life of main character Willa. We see Willa at age 11 when her mother disappears for a few days, Willa at age 21 when she brings her boyfriend home from college, Willa in her early 40s ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I feel like 2 stars may be generous. There were so many things wrong with this book. Probably the worst were the unrealistic and flat (and misnamed) characters. (Find me a single 9-year-old IRL named cheryl). The contrived situation, the ever-present and over-involved (and idle) neighbors, the way all three of the remaining men in her life are complete dicks (peter, ian, and sean - how did they get to be that way, anyway?) - her complete cluelessness about how cellphones work and reliance on lan ...more
Meredith B.  (readingwithmere)
3 Stars!

This was my first Anne Tyler book and I picked it up because it is the Barnes and noble book club quarterly pick!

The book opens when Willa is a young girl. We spend the next 100 or so pages going through her childhood and early adult life. She goes to college, gets married, has 2 sons and overall a pretty average American life. One day her and her then husband Derek are in a serious car accident and their lives are pretty much forever changed.

We jump to the next 20 years and Willa is mar
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Clock Dance, a story about the continuous quest of learning who you truly are, and determining what’s next.

Willa grew up with a moody mom and a docile dad. She helped raise her younger sister, Elaine, when her mom periodically stepped out of the house without warning. Willa is a good child, a responsible rule follower, and a peacemaker. She eventually marries her college boyfriend and has two sons, then becomes a widow when the boys are teenagers.

Now in 2017, as a remarried wife in Ari
Mary Lins
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: complete
Full disclosure: I’d call myself Anne Tyler’s “Number One Fan” if that line wasn’t so creepy (thanks a lot, Stephen King). So it’s no surprise that I adored “Clock Dance” and want everyone in the world to read it, and ALL of Tyler’s stellar oeuvre.

I’m not the only fan who has called Tyler the “Jane Austen of our time”; the comparisons are obvious: beautiful writing, accessibility, colorful characters, perfectly pitched dialogue, and a focus on domestic stories. And woe be to anyone who considers
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first time reading Anne Tyler and it certainly won’t be my last! I like this author’s style – the way she is able to take everyday, mundane events and turn them into an interesting story, yet still keep the overall tone low-key, subtle, and rooted in reality. The story is divided into 4 major segments that highlight 4 particular “defining moments” in the life of the main character Willa Drake -- starting in 1967 when she is 11 years old, we get a glimpse of what her childhood was like ...more
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-library
This was close to classic Anne Tyler for me.  She has such a feel for family dynamics, their foibles and shortcomings, their strengths and disappointments.  I liked Willa, we all know someone like her.  A good person, mild-mannered, apt to be taken for granted.  Here, she is struggling for some semblance of a meaningful life beyond that for which she has settled.  She will be presented with a most unlikely way to find it.  

Although these are not spoilers in the truest sense, you might prefer to
Jul 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Clock Dance” tells the story of middle aged Willa, a woman who has spent her life being the “good girl” and fulfilling her family’s expectations. But Willa is jolted out of that existence when she receives an unexpected phone call. Her response to that call is the first step in Willa’s journey away from her compliant, responsible, and endlessly accommodating existence to a life where she can begin to satisfy her own needs and wants. This would be a great book club read and the message of caring ...more
Diane Barnes
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Even a middling Anne Tyler book is better than a lot of modern fiction. Compared to some of her other novels, this is not one of my favorites, mainly because I had a hard time relating to Willa, the main character. During an argument with another character, she is accused of being "so cheery and polite and genteel and superficial". Aha, I thought, my feelings exactly. She was always trying to apologize and diffuse situations. I know some women like this, and they irritate me. Get real! Take a st ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
If I had to choose an author to write my own life story, it would be Anne Tyler. She suffuses her quirky characters with so much compassion and understanding that they come alive on the page.

In Clock Dance, familiar themes emerge: the woman who must leave home to find herself (Ladder of Years), the emotional distancing of children (Dinner in the Homesick Restaurant), the difference in marital styles (The Amateur Marriage). Those who love Anne Tyler—and I do—will rejoice in all the familiar nuan
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I am a fan of Anne Tyler's writing but this was not, for me anyway, one of her best. Her work is always character driven and not action packed, but Clock Dance seemed to ramble over a long period of time and not achieve very much. Maybe it was because I had no feelings for Willa and therefore was not able to feel involved in the little things in her life.

Of course there were major events too which helped to form Willa's personality and made her subordinate to all the men in her life ( two overbe
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
I am giving up with this book. I have read a few of Anne Tyler's books and liked them. However, this one and I are just not jelling. So, I am quitting at page 203 feeling that I did give it a good go. Some books are just not for everyone. I need to remember that always. ...more
Emily B
Anne Tyler books have become my go to audiobooks for listening to when I’m walking to work.

This was easy listening. Tyler creates a rich family world with such distinct characters that you can’t help but be drawn in.

The thing I wasn’t sure about was the way the novel was divided up.
Delightful - that's the word that best describes how I felt about this novel.

I'm always struck by the writers' ability to come up with crazy plots, including secrets with all sort of twists and turns. Those books are exciting. I'm even more impressed by authors who write stories about ordinary people, doing everyday, average people things. I guess I take comfort from other people's ordinariness? I'm not quite sure what it is that makes me appreciate these quaint, domestic novels so much, it must
Helene Jeppesen
This book started off really strong with an intense plot and several flashforwards that made the story compelling and alluring. In chapter one, we meet Willa and her sister who have once again been abandoned by their tempestuous mother. Their father doesn't really want to confide in them what has happened this time around, so it's up to Willa and her younger sister to continue living their lives while desperately missing their mother.
Once again, Anne Tyler has written a book which shows that sh
j e w e l s
Aug 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Lately, I've gone through a very fast run of mediocre audio books. I'm sure these books are perfectly fine to read in print, but they absolutely did not work for me to listen to and in most cases, I did not listen very long. Either the narrators are no bueno or the format of the book does not lend itself well to audio.

I want to keep a list, so I won't try them again on audio.
da AL
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rare indeed is a novel that opens us up to our potential to redefine ourselves at any age. Tyler paints the human spirit, warts and all, as capable of continuous growth. Audiobook performer Kimberly Farr, moreover, is golden.
Charles Finch
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
From USA Today


Family is the way some of us understand the world. Not the self, not society – but the little malleable confederation that lies between the two.

Anne Tyler, one of this country’s great artists, has spent 50 years and more than 20 novels on the subject, her beautiful, understated, humane tales so similar in shape and voice that taken together they have come to seem like a subtle and sublime mania, the author explaining the same idea to herself over and over again, marveling anew
Connie G
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Willa learned to smooth things over with her volatile mother, and be a responsible big sister at a young age. She found that she was still doing what other people expected when she moved away from her friends to a home near an Arizona golf course so her husband could enjoy his hobby in semi-retirement.

Then Willa received a phone call from a woman in Baltimore, a neighbor of her son's ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend was in the hospital and her daughter, Cheryl, needed a caregiver. The neighbor m
In many ways this is a typical Anne Tyler book. The characters are quirky but they make up a community that somehow works. But, unlike most of Tyler’s other books, this main character, Willa, just never connected for me. I felt as if I was standing outside watching instead of inside sharing Willa’s life. This just didn’t have the magic of her earlier novels like Saint Maybe and Breathing Lessons, and I don’t expect it to remain with me the way A Spool of Blue Thread did.

I still love Anne Tyler.
A few years back I read a rare interview with Anne Tyler in which she described getting together with her lady friends of a certain age to watch The Wire and experience how some other Baltimore residents live. The gangs-and-drugs world of The Wire, of course, could hardly be more different from the safe semi-suburban spaces Tyler’s characters inhabit. However, if you’ve heard one thing about Tyler’s new novel, Clock Dance, her twenty-second, I expect it’s that a character gets shot. Finally, a r ...more
Martie Nees Record
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pub. Date: July 10, 2018

"Clock Dance," the latest novel by the author Anne Tyler, affectionately known as the bard of Baltimore, is filled with her familiar themes and quirky characters, but it is not up to par with her earlier works. The gist of the book is that the heroine has four defining moments of her life, which is categorized into four years. The reader only gets flashing glimpses of the first three defining moments, which is part-on
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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

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“I’ll just tell you what I’ve learned that has helped me,” he said. “Shall I?” “Yes, tell me,” she said, growing still. “I broke my days into separate moments,” he said. “See, it’s true I didn’t have any more to look forward to. But on the other hand, there were these individual moments that I could still appreciate. Like drinking that first cup of coffee in the morning. Working on something fine in my workshop. Watching a baseball game on TV.” She thought that over. “But…” she said. He waited. “But…is that enough?” she asked him. “Well, yes, it turns out that it is,” he said.” 12 likes
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