Paperback review: The Beginner's Goodbye, By Anne Tyler


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The Independent Culture

"The strangest thing about my wife's return from the dead was how other people reacted." Greeted by an opening line like that, one simply has to keep reading; and indeed The Beginner's Goodbye goes on to exhibit all the delicious readability that admirers of Tyler expect.

Aaron – a fussy, fastidious man in his forties who works for a vanity publisher – is devastated when his wife Dorothy is killed by a falling tree. But after a blank, desolate space Dorothy comes back, appearing beside Aaron at unexpected moments, walking beside him, starting inconclusive conversations.

We watch Aaron struggle with his grief as we learn more about his loving but fundamentally flawed marriage. As always with Tyler, the story moves in two directions at once, flowing into the future while the past is explored and understood.