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.

Gene Genie by Patricia Mullin

About the book

Michael Barton MP is the Minister for the Family, happily married and with two daughters. He never imagined that an apparent act of selflessness on his part, committed almost thirty years ago, could come back to haunt him.

Reviewed by Biscuits, Books and Banter (Yateley Library):

Interesting subject handled fairly well. The main characters were weak, but the supporting females were very strong – reflection of real life? Raised lots of good discussion points and an interesting and lively meeting ensued. Lots of ethical questions to be thought over.

Star rating: ***

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