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A Patchwork Planet

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  12,333 ratings  ·  707 reviews
For the first time in mass market paperback, this novel introduces 30-year-old misfit Barnaby Gaitlin, a renegade who is actually a kind-hearted man struggling to turn his life around. A New York Times Notable Book.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Ballantine Books (first published April 14th 1998)
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Nance Sparks that's what I think though the note to Sophia made me think maybe he was really in love with her and wanted to convince her she should be with him - I…morethat's what I think though the note to Sophia made me think maybe he was really in love with her and wanted to convince her she should be with him - I think I like the idea of him winding up with Martine better(less)
Derek Finnigan At the beginning of the book, When Barnaby is attending the Renascence school, the students have to learn a weekly Shakespeare sonnet. The first…moreAt the beginning of the book, When Barnaby is attending the Renascence school, the students have to learn a weekly Shakespeare sonnet. The first sonnet Barnaby has to learn is, 'When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, Haply I think on thee'. Martine, along with his grandparents, will have faith and belief in him no matter what, and this is why, at the end of the book, when he finally comes to understand what Martine really means to him, Barnaby says to her, "Haply I think on thee".(less)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  12,333 ratings  ·  707 reviews

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Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2019
Loved it. I think I say the same thing in every Anne Tyler book review, but I love her attention to detail and how she can craft unique, quirky characters that are not unrealistic. They have their distinct personality traits and flaws but they are still very human. Barnaby was a sometimes unlikeable but still enjoyable character to read about.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, w-mcl, 0-dl, x-sbc-read
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
Stephanie Holcomb
Jan 30, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-lit
I want to be Anne Tyler when I grow up.

Less ambitiously, if ever somebody was going to write me, write my life, my family, my friends, my fuck-ups, my fuck-downs - which I hope are the very opposite of ups - this is the only person I would want to do it. She'd make it all okay.
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
No one can create quirky, beguiling, harmless misfits as well as Anne Tyler, and in A Patchwork Planet, Barnaby Gaitland steps onto the page. He's the black sheep of an affluent family, living in a rented basement studio, divorced, wanting to be a better father to his daughter, working for Rent-a-Back, a service company that does household jobs its elderly clients who can no longer manage. Along comes an angel, and his life seems to take a major turn for the better. But in the background of this ...more
Dec 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Galen Johnson
Jun 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Ann Tyler's works. Looking into the lives of ordinary people and finding extraordinary stories.
The main character in the novel,Barnaby Gaitlin, is the the anti-hero in this story. He is definitely no prince. A quasi-reformed juvenile delinquent, he is a disheveled handyman,helper with a heart and "a man you can trust". His work takes him into the homes and lives of people who have no reason not to trust him and build relationships with him. He likes the work because it puts him
Bev Taylor
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
barnaby lives a strange life. he started out breaking into people's houses with his friends but was only interested in photo albums, letters, the personal stuff

he was bailed out by his very rich parents - definitely the black sheep of the family! - and eventually found a job with a firm that does jobs for people - generally older - who cannot do them. the owner takes a shine to him, like a mother hen, and he soon proves himself to be very adept and loves his work. money has no interest to him.
Carolyn Agosta
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Ron Charles
Sep 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
'A Patchwork Planet" opens and closes with this protest: "I am a man you can trust." Barnaby Gaitlin understands the full value of trust, and between the covers of Anne Tyler's latest novel, he tells a story of hard won redemption in the face of withering doubts.

Everything about Barnaby's upbringing in a gracious Baltimore neighborhood promised a successful life. His family even keeps a book of narratives about their encounters with guardian angels, strangers who have passed on wise advice about
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary
I’ve always liked Anne Tyler’s stories and this one started off well but it fell very flat in the end. She dedicated it to the loving memory of her husband so perhaps she lost heart towards the end. She has always written about people viewed as losers or really just view themselves as losers and then in the end find the life they had thought was mundane is pretty wonderful after all. I really liked ‘Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant’, but this one with Barnaby who works at Rent-a-Back and is ...more
Jan 12, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Nita Kohli
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book starts out fine. When I started reading this book, I felt this will be good book with humor and a quirky protagonist. But, then somewhere in the book things start messing up and I started losing interest. I did not feel for any character. In fact there were so many character that were not even needed. I found the book a total mess.

Read the complete review here:
Sarah Pavlina-Whelehan
May 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
Tyler's concept of the dialogue a 3o year old man would use, even in the mid-nineties, is laughable.
Renita D'Silva
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just wonderful
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"Barnaby Gaitlin is one of Anne Tyler's most promising unpromising characters. At 30, he has yet to graduate from college, is already divorced, and is used to defeat. His mother thrives on reminding him of his adolescent delinquency and debt to his family, and even his daughter is fed up with his fecklessness. Still, attuned as he is to "the normal quota for misfortune," Barney is one of the star employees of Baltimore's Rent-a-Back, Inc., which pays him an hourly wage to help old people
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you are looking for an absolutely delightful book to end your summer reading, Anne Tyler's "A Patchwork
Planet" would certainly do the trick.

Our narrator, Barnaby Gaitlin, is a 30 year old "lovable loser," (to quote the book jacket.) As a teen, Barnaby ran afoul of the law by robbing neighborhood homes. Oh, he didn't want the cash; no, he just wanted the chance to read their mail, look at their photographs, and maybe grab a few souvenirs while he was at it. Now, to the despair of his social
Jul 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Alison S
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-author
I only discovered Anne Tyler recently, but I'm so glad as I did as she has quickly become one of my favourite authors. I loved this book - warm , perceptive, funny and sad all at the same time. She is so good at depicting family relationships and what makes us human. I find that I read her books very quickly with a sense of pure pleasure.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I finish an Anne Tyler novel I feel restless. Like my childhood neighbor has moved away even though they were different and had linoleum outdated floors that were mopped like clockwork every Monday morning. Like I have to plod forward with my own life that seems perfectly normal but I have a sinking suspicion that it isn't at all.
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Barnaby is approaching his 30th birthday. He has been a misfit in a wealthy family. He is employed by Rent-a-Back, an agency providing assistance to the elderly. Barnaby is good at this work. He looks after his customers, rather than just doing a job. His customers are pleased with Barnaby.
On a Saturday, Barnaby observes a woman waiting for a train. Barnaby is going by train to Philadelphia for his monthly visit with his daughter. Barnaby become so intrigued with this woman that he manages to be
Lynn Pribus
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A relatively slender Tyler work picked up from the Little Library (small cabinet on a post) on one of our neighborhood walking trails.

A sweet tale with a sweet guy and sweet characters and a sweet ending, but NOT saccharine!

Just love her writing-- so well-phrased without seeming studied or worked over.

Nice read that goes back a while..
Disha Bose O'Shea
Anne Tyler has a way about her. Maybe it’s the characters she creates; usually lovable misfits, or maybe it’s her eye for detail. I loved the start and the end of this book, the middle bit seemed to go on a bit. However, in the end, I came away feeling light-hearted and willing to forgive its barely-there shortcomings.
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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 member ...more