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Quintessential Tyler but full of surprises - a perfectly pitched, enchanting and affecting novel about a man adrift in his own life, Noah's Compass chimes subtly, heartbreakingly with our times.
Born in Minneapolis in 1941, Anne Tyler lives in Baltimore where her novels are set. She is the Pulitzer-prize winning author of Breathing Lessons and other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Saint Maybe, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage and most recently Digging to America.
"In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job." Echoing loudly the cadences of biblical prose, Tyler's opening sentence portends Liam's ominous downward spiral. Soon after he's forced into early retirement from a second-rate private boy's school, Liam moves to a smaller apartment. Once unpacked, he lies down to sleep and wakes up the next morning, head sore and bandaged, in the hospital. With no recollection about how he ended up there, Liam wanders through his days searching, much like Noah scanning the desolate waters for land. Along the way, he meets Eunice, who cannot prod his memory of that night but does stir some of Liam's other long-forgotten feelings. Working at her characteristically leisurely pace, Tyler poignantly portrays one man's search for wholeness and redemption as he picks up the shards of a life shattered by the crashing waves of aging. Unlike similar Updike and Roth characters, who worry more about their inability to perform sexual athletics any longer, Tyler's character struggles with the visceral loss of identity brought on by forced retirement and the indignities of memory loss. Verdict Another winning effort by Tyler; for readers of Reynolds Price's The Promise of Rest and early Tyler novels such as Dinner at Homesick Restaurant. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]-Henry Carrigan, Evanston, IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Like Tyler's previous protagonists, Liam Pennywell is a man of unexceptional talents, plain demeanor, modest means and curtailed ambition. At age 60, he's been fired from his teaching job at a "second-rate private boys' school" in Baltimore, a job below his academic training and original expectations. An unsentimental, noncontemplative survivor of two failed marriages and the emotionally detached father of three grown daughters, Liam is jolted into alarm after he's attacked in his apartment and loses all memory of the experience. His search to recover those lost hours leads him into an uneasy exploration of his disappointing life and into an unlikely new relationship with Eunice, a socially inept walking fashion disaster who is half his age. She is also spontaneous and enthusiastic, and Liam longs to cast off his inertia and embrace the "joyous recklessness" that he feels in her company. Tyler's gift is to make the reader empathize with this flawed but decent man, and to marvel at how this determinedly low-key, plainspoken novelist achieves miracles of insight and understanding. (Jan.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"As exquisitely observed and quietly brilliant as the rest of Tyler's fiction" -- Joanna Briscoe * Guardian * "Anne Tyler draws a comedy that is not so much brilliant as luminous - its observant sharpness sweetened by a generous understanding of human fallibility" -- Jane Shilling * Daily Telegraph * "Noah's Compass is immensely readable. It displays many of Tyler's finest qualities: her sharp observation of humanity, her wry comedy; the luminous accuracy of her descriptions... a novel by Anne Tyler is cause for celebration" -- Caroline Moore * Sunday Telegraph * "Anne Tyler is a novelist who has elevated pitch-perfect observation of everyday detail into an art form... a beautifully subtle book, an elegant contemplation of what it means to be happy and the consequences of a defensive withdrawal from other people" -- Elizabeth Day * Observer * "One of my favourite authors, one of the very few I rush out to buy in hardback." -- Craig Brown * Mail on Sunday *