Author of the Month – Anne Tyler

Our September Author of the Month, is Anne Tyler – the quiet American who has published 20 novels over the last 50 years, that subtly chronicle the ‘stuff of family life’ – love, disappointments, estranged children, loss.

She won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons (1988), a portrait of a marriage ageing and warping, while The Accidental Tourist (1985) was made into a Hollywood movie starring William Hurt and Geena Davis. She insists that her novels are not autobiographical, but are, she admits, influenced by the stages of her life: having children, growing older, saying “I don’t have murder mysteries, suspense or real events. I rely on time to do my plotting: people having babies, marrying, dying, just normal things that happen.”

Writers as diverse as John Updike, Eudora Welty, Nick Hornby and Jonathan Franzen have professed themselves fervent fans, whilst Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby nominated Tyler as ‘the greatest novelist writing in English’.

If you’re new to her novels the breadth of her work can make it hard to choose where to start, but whether you are fan of brilliantly observed family dramas, prefer books about how we discover our true selves, or love quirky characters and unexpected situations – Anne Tyler has written something for you.

A Spool of Blue Thread

Tyler’s 2014 bestseller introduces four generations of Whitshank family as their lives unfold in and around their beloved family home.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

In Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, we meet another Baltimore family, the Tulls. Abandoned by her husband, Pearl Tull was left to bring up her three children alone, but now this matriarch is dying and, slowly but surely, the past and its tightly held secrets begin to be revealed.

The Amateur Marriage

This novel, which opens in the 1940s, follows a couple who met and married quickly, spurred on by the escalation of World War II. From this hasty beginning, we watch them pass through the decades together, and the consequences of their very mismatched marriage.

Back When We Were Grown-Ups

One morning, Rebecca wakes up and realises she’s not the person she expected to be. Back When We Were Grown-Ups follows Rebecca as she interrogates the ties that have bound her into a new family and decides whether the life she has, is the one she wants.

Ladder of Years

On a warm summer’s day at the beach, dressed only in a swimsuit and beach robe, Cordelia Grinstead walks away from her family and just keeps on going. In a new town, where she knows no one, she reinvents herself as a single woman with no ties, but it’s not long until hints of her old life begin to creep back in.

Clock Dance

When Willa Drake learns that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot, she drops everything and flies across the country. That spur-of-the moment decision to look after this woman and her nine-year-old daughter leads Willa to the realisation that it’s never too late to choose your own path.

Digging to America

Friday August 15th, 1997. Two tiny Korean babies are delivered to two very different families. Digging to America is a perceptive and subtle novel about the challenges of growing up, and balancing your own identity with the desires and dreams of your family

Redhead by the Side of the Road

Anne Tyler’s latest novel is a glimpse into the heart and mind of a man who sometimes finds those around him just out of reach – and a love story about the differences that make us all unique.

The Accidental Tourist

How does a man who is addicted to routine cope with the chaos of everyday life? With the loss of his son, the departure of his wife and the arrival of Muriel, a dog trainer from the Meow-Bow dog clinic, his attempts at ordinary life are tragically and comically undone.

Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018

The Women’s Prize for Fiction is the UK’s most prestigious annual book award for fiction written by a woman. Founded in 1996, the Prize was set up to celebrate excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world.

The Prize, formerly know as the ‘Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction’, has bee rebranded for 2018 due to a new sponsorship model

The Longlist was announced on 8th March, International Women’s Day, a selection of 16 top titles.

The Shortlist was announced on 23rd April.

Find the selection across Hampshire Libraries in print, to download and even to listen to:

The 2018 Shortlisted books are as follows:

Elif Batuman, The Idiot

Imogen Hermes Gowar, The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Jessie Greengrass, Sight

Meena Kandasamy, When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife

Kamila Shamsie, Home Fire

Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing (Coming soon, reserve now!)

 

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

About the book

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.

During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.

What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?

 

 Reviewed by Palestine Book Club

“Unusual structure – some found it irritating and confusing. Very thought provoking. An interesting story and good quality writing”

star rating **

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The Missing One by Lucy Atkins

About the book

The loss of her mother has left Kali McKenzie with too many unanswered questions. But while clearing out Elena’s art studio, she finds a drawer packed with postcards, each bearing an identical one-line message a Canadian gallery owner called Susannah Gillespie: thinking of you. Who is this woman and what does she know about Elena’s hidden past? Desperate to find out, Kali travels with her toddler, Finn, to Susannah’s isolated home on a remote British Columbian island, a place of killer whales and storms. But as bad weather closes in, Kali quickly realises she has made a big mistake. The handsome and enigmatic Susannah refuses to talk about the past, and as Kali struggles to piece together what happened back in the 1970s, Susannah’s behaviour grows more and more erratic. Most worrying of all, Susannah is becoming increasingly preoccupied with little Finn …

 Reviewed by Seagals

“Well written and well researched. We really enjoyed the book on the whole, although towards the end it got a bit far fetched”

star rating ****

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How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern

About the book

Christine Rose is crossing the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin late one night when she sees a stranger, Adam, poised to jump. Desperate to help, she talks him into a reckless deal: if he gives her two weeks – till his 35th birthday – she’ll prove that life is worth living.

But as the clock ticks and the two of them embark on late-night escapades and romantic adventures, what Christine has really promised seems impossible…

Reviewed by Reading Between the Lines

“Predictable but quite enjoyable with a decent ending. Quite easy reading and not that much character development.”

star rating **

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

About the book

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Reviewed by Wallington Village

beguiling, powerful detailed descriptions. Delightful use of language. Quite a contrast between narrative styles. Well observed. Beautifully written. Could just picture it.

star rating ****

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The Accidental by Ali Smith

About the book

The Accidental is Ali Smith’s dazzling novel about a family holiday and a stranger who upends it. Arresting and wonderful, The Accidental pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer. There a beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.

Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

The narrative didn’t flow. Virginia Woolf did it better. As a group we did not enjoy the book. A disappointment.

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We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

About the book

Who is to blame for teenage atrocity? Narrator Eva Khatchadourian’s son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-loved teacher who tried to befriend him. This novel is an examination of the effect tragedy has on a town, a marriage and a family.

Review By WEA Afternoon

This book prompted the longest discussion we have ever had. In general it was well received but a small minority found the characters and plot of no interest. The ending came as a huge surprise to most people.

Star rating ***

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The Post-birthday world by Lionel Shriver

book cover

About the book

It all hinges on one kiss. Whether Irena McGovern does or does not lean in to a specific pair of lips will determine whether she stays with her disciplined, intellectual partner Lawrence or runs off with Ramsey, a hard-living snooker player.

Reviewed by Wallington Village

Have no empathy with the characters and we had high hopes for this book having read “We need to talk about Kevin” but no one in the group finished reading it. Author bit obsessed. Too long.

Star rating none given

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Testimony by Anita Shreve

book cover

About the book

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora’s box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voice that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Reviewed by Milford on Sea WI

Generally thought to have been a good read although a few ladies thought the style and subject matter rather irritating. Provoked a very lively and interesting discussion about human frailty and taking responsibility for ones actions in life.

Star rating **

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