Emma's Reviews > The Beginner's Goodbye

The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler
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I read this relatively short novel (272 pages) in a rather bitty fashion, while completing an entirely different book with my Book Club in between; perhaps, also because this is not an entirely happy story.

The main character, Aaron, describes his journey through the unexpected loss of his wife in first person. The characters are thoroughly drawn and Aaron’s love for his wife is touching as she is portrayed in many ways as quirky, an oddball, even difficult to love. Aaron himself clearly finds it easier to pretend everything is fine, than accept the loving human kindness offered by friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues, so in that respect, they appear to have been well-matched. There is a roughness, an unhappy irritation that permeates their relationship from his first mention of her in his story.

Anne Tyler writes about reality so don’t read this for escapism. It was refreshing to read a love story (in essence, that is what it was, though it honestly didn't feel like it!) between two people that weren't in the conventional romantic hero and heroine mould. I nonetheless found it hard work, completing most of the novel during the “read any good books lately?” days of the 2020 pandemic. That said, Ms Tyler is clearly a thorough and accomplished writer, her language is accessible and she is not afraid of exploring the darker shades of her characters and their life choices and the consequences.

Spoiler alert!

Despite the happy twist at the end, I struggle to give this four stars, not because it wasn’t a well formed story but because in all honesty I can’t really say it was an enjoyable read and I do like to enjoy a story, even if it leaves me sobbing uncontrollably! Which this didn't, so something I can't quite put my finger on failed to engage me. At this strange time in our lives I think I just need to read something lighter and more upbeat.

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Reading Progress

January 1, 2020 – Started Reading
January 1, 2020 – Shelved
May 2, 2020 – Finished Reading

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