The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler

64%

54 Critic Reviews

But when, near the end, Aaron announces, “I wanted the jolts and jogs of ordinary life. I wanted realness, even if it was flawed and pockmarked,” I know just how he feels.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

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 young woman, she’s like a breath of fresh air. He marries her without hesitation, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. Aaron works at his family’s vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy’s unexpected appearances from the dead—in their house, on the roadway, in the market—help him to live in the moment and to find some peace. Gradually, Aaron discovers that maybe for this beginner there is indeed a way to say goodbye.
 
“Like a modern Jane Austen, Tyler creates small worlds [depicting] the intimate bonds of friendship and family.”—USA Today
 
“An absolute charmer of a novel . . . With sparkling prose . . . [Anne] Tyler gets at the beating heart of what it means to lose someone, to say goodbye.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Classic Tyler . . . The wonder of Anne Tyler is how consistently clear-eyed and truthful she remains about the nature of families and especially marriage.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“Beautifully intricate . . . By the exquisitely romantic emotional climax [an] ordinary life has bloomed into an opera.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
Don’t miss the conversation between Anne Tyler and Robb Forman Dew at the back of the book.

This ebook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
 

About Anne Tyler

See more books from this Author
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her eighteenth novel. Her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
 
Published April 3, 2012 by Ballantine Books. 223 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Apr 22 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Beginner's Goodbye
All: 54 | Positive: 32 | Negative: 22

Kirkus

Below average
Feb 15 2012

Some might consider the latest from Tyler . . .typically wise and charming, while others will dismiss it as cloying.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Elaine Showalter on Apr 20 2012

...The Beginner's Goodbye – a small first step in the long process of recovery from the death of a spouse – is artistically subtle and emotionally satisfying despite its lightness.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Julia Glass on May 04 2012

I admire Tyler’s loyalty and benevolence toward her characters, but in “The Beginner’s Goodbye” her lovingly constructed cosmos is in danger of becoming a snow globe: a hermetically sealed community in which the greatest peril is being caught in an artificial blizzard.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Apr 05 2012

It’s a trite and predictable lesson from what is arguably this talented author’s tritest and most predictable novel.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
Jan 30 2012

This is no gothic ghost story nor chronicle of a man unraveling in his grief, but rather an uplifting tale of love and forgiveness.

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Apr 04 2012

In The Beginner's Goodbye, Tyler again celebrates not experts but amateurs and novices — beginners still capable of learning. It's this capacity for change that makes Tyler's characters so sympathetic, and her books so satisfying.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Carol Turner on May 04 2012

Fans of Tyler’s work will find THE BEGINNER’S GOODBYE to be a slight departure from her previous offerings, but a pleasant addition to her long list of popular novels.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Mar 31 2012

And oh, it is easy to read. Aaron is Tyler's typically congenial narrator, thoughtful, mostly plainspoken, occasionally wry. In his story, everyone feels like family, or at least like neighbors and friendly acquaintances.

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Mary McNamara on Apr 02 2012

It's classic Tyler...with characters who have dug themselves so deep into their emotional caves that they don't realize how small the space is, and dark, until an avalanche removes the back wall.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Kathleen Byrne on May 07 2012

But when, near the end, Aaron announces, “I wanted the jolts and jogs of ordinary life. I wanted realness, even if it was flawed and pockmarked,” I know just how he feels.

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Globe and Mail

Below average
Reviewed by Kathleen Byrne on May 06 2012

It is cozy to the point of bafflement. It is as if we are stuck in a time warp.

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Entertainment Weekly

Excellent
Reviewed by Karen Valby on Apr 04 2012

Aaron is Tyler's beginner, a man crippled in more ways than one. But her portrayal of his pain and clumsy resilience is beautifully intricate.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Phil Dyess-Nugent on Apr 09 2012

But for all its grace notes, the novel is too slight and uneven to survive its final pages, when Tyler wraps everything up too neatly. She diminishes the best parts of her book...

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Ron Charles on Mar 27 2012

...isn’t as hard to fathom as how Aaron escaped from Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.” Even die-hard fans of Tyler’s work should probably let this one float by.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Mark Sanderson on Apr 19 2012

This palliates his pain and makes an acute and amusing novel seem bogus. Tyler has become an unthinking man’s Alice Munro.

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The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Cressida Connolly on Apr 04 2012

...ordinary lives can contain moments of great beauty, dignity and hope. The Beginner’s Goodbye has all three.

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Christian Science Monitor

Below average
Reviewed by Yvonne Zipp

“The Beginner's Goodbye” isn't up there with, say, “Saint Maybe,” still my favorite of her books.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by VIv Groskop on Apr 29 2012

My only complaint? At 198 pages and with fairly big type, I would have loved it to be longer. But maybe I'm just saying that I didn't want it to end. Which is also a fairly common Tyler thing.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Freya McClelland on Apr 06 2012

Holding a mirror to her characters' attempts to deal with their own grief and the grief of others, Tyler uses simple, elegant prose to manifest her particular brands of realism and humour.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Anthony Domestico on Apr 08 2012

The Beginner's Goodbye is the purest distillation of an Anne Tyler novel imaginable...what redeems the novel is Tyler's typically brilliant use of details.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Below average
Reviewed by Anthony Domestico on Apr 08 2012

There are some stylistic hiccups. . . and Tyler telegraphs the ending from a mile away.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Toby Barrow on Apr 28 2012

Tyler, widowed in 1995, has allowed enough time to pass to write successfully about loss and recovery without being pedantic or mawkish in doing so.

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Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Apr 08 2012

Despite the emotional weight of her subject matter, she treats it with a delicate hand, building the story not with melodrama but with quotidian details that ring true...

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Boston.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Caroline Leavitt on Apr 01 2012

...rich and unexpected insights in an absolute charmer of a novel about grief, healing, and the transcendent power of love.

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The Columbus Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Apr 15 2012

Tyler’s writing is elegant and wry, and the novel is just the right length for its subject.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Barbara Vancheri on Apr 08 2012

Ms. Tyler's powers of description are as sharp as ever.

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Cleveland.com

Below average
Reviewed by Karen Sandstrom on Apr 04 2012

Even as a ghost, Dorothy failed to engage me, much less haunt me.

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St. Louis Today

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Giegerich on Apr 14 2012

Now comes No. 19, "The Beginner's Goodbye," a novel no less riveting and engaging than those that preceded it.

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The National

Excellent
Reviewed by Fran Hawthorne on Mar 30 2012

Indeed, the title is perfect. This is a guide to mourning and letting go, and a far better one than poor Woolcott Publishing could ever produce.

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Book Geeks

Excellent
Reviewed by Clare Brierley on Apr 17 2012

This book has a great deal of heart to it.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Valerie Ryan on Apr 01 2012

One might say that both he and Nandina become intermediates, rather than beginners, in the game of life, as rendered faultlessly, entertainingly and entirely believably by Anne Tyler.

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The New Zealand Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Carroll du Chateau on Jun 20 2012

Small as it is, and simple on a superficial level, this is one of the best books I've read about death and loss.

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Journal Sentinel

Below average
Reviewed by Mike Fischer on Mar 31 2012

Tyler's treatment of Aaron's marriage is as dead as Dorothy herself. . .

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The Miami Herald

Below average
Reviewed by Ellen Kanner on Apr 15 2012

It is enough for Aaron, but too hastily dispensed to be enough for the reader.

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Richmond Times-Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by Jay Strafford on Apr 08 2012

But Tyler, with subtlety and compassion, leaves that issue to the reader, and in so doing examines the eternal issues of sorrow and loss — and life's blessings.

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New Zealand Listener

Below average
Reviewed by Marion McLeod on May 26 2012

Tyler is good on grief but this beginner’s guide, it must be said, lacks the richness, the wryness, the comic and the tragic notes of her best work.

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BuffaloNews.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jean Westmoore on Apr 29 2012

In this her 19th novel, Tyler has crafted an unusual and perfect jewel of a love story.

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Literary Review

Below average
Reviewed by Pamela Norris

The effect of the book's restricted canvas is to sacrifice the comic ebullience of such novels as The Accidental Tourist or A Patchwork Planet to a quieter realism, in a carefully observed study of grief...

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The BookPage

Excellent
Reviewed by Cat Acree on Apr 11 2012

I would call it minimalist were it not for the thump of magical realism. . .

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truthdig

Below average
Reviewed by Lauren Davis on Apr 27 2012

If I have criticisms about the book they stem from the fact that the first sentence is so alluring, the rest of the novel is hard-pressed to live up to it.

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pbpulse.com

Below average
Reviewed by Scott Eyman on Apr 13 2012

She remains a graceful novelist, extremely skilled at observation of a particular kind of constipated life. But then, she ought to be; she’s written this book about 10 times.

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Harbor Light

Below average
Reviewed by Judy Cummings on Apr 25 2012

I finished the story without a struggle but didn’t feel as satisfied as I had with some of her other novels.

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Literary Treats

Good
Reviewed by Jaclyn on Apr 24 2012

Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye is a moving, beautifully written portrait of grief, a story of loss and the desire to put off the goodbye as long as possible.

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Literary Treats

Good
Apr 24 2012

Tyler’s simple, straightforward narrative style keeps her story from ever becoming maudlin

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Readings

Good
Reviewed by Jessica Au on Apr 23 2012

This heartbreaking story is imbued with beauty and bittersweet melancholy but, this being an Anne Tyler novel, it is spiked with a sly sense of humour and wisdom.

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BookPage

Good
Reviewed by Deborah Donovan

This glimpse into personal loss limned with an unexpectedly bright future will be welcomed by Tyler's many admirers.

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Bookmunch

Good
Reviewed by Felix McNulty on Apr 10 2012

This is a compassionate exploration of loss as one of the defining experiences of life since, as Aaron comments, people who have not lost a loved one strike him as ‘not quite grown up’.

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Nomad Reader

Below average
Mar 16 2012

She united many seemingly disparate classic novel traits in this short novel, but it didn't feel whole to me, despite my enjoyment of so many of its parts.

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Bibliophile By the Sea

Good
Reviewed by Diane on Mar 07 2012

...the story left me with a lot to think about, and the ending ultimately left me smiling. Highly Recommended - I Loved it!

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It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Good
Reviewed by LHH on Apr 06 2012

Anne Tyler is back to fighting form with her bittersweet, charming new book about love, loss, and coming to terms with reality in relationships.

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Tony's Book World

Below average
Reviewed by Tony Spors on Apr 15 2012

Tyler’s new novel, “The Beginner’s Goodbye” follows that same pattern of introducing eccentric characters, but this time it felt to me like she crossed the line into contrivance.

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Roux Morgue

Below average
Reviewed by Claire Johnson on Apr 18 2012

...The Beginner's Goodbye felt unfinished and unrealized, and worse, a retread.

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RabbitReader

Good
Reviewed by Chiron on May 06 2012

If you have never read Anne Tyler...The Beginner’s Goodbye would be a wonderful introduction to this award-winning novelist.

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Bluestalking

Below average
Reviewed by Lisa Guidarni on Apr 11 2012

Not really a great sign when the cover blurb's better than the book.

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Reader Rating for The Beginner's Goodbye
76%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 553 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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