The Beginner’s Goodbye | Anne Tyler

I finished The Beginner’s Goodbye a couple of days ago and I’ve been avoiding writing a post about it ever since. I’m struggling to find the right words to tell you how I feel about this book without sounding trite.

I could say I loved this book from start to finish.

I could tell you how complete and satisfying this book was for me.

But none of the above does justice to the elegance and emotional truth that Tyler uses to describe the relationship between Aaron and his dead wife, Dorothy.

I’ve always enjoyed Tyler’s gentle writing style, but some of her previous books have been a little hit and miss for me in the emotional department.

Not so, The Beginner’s Goodbye. The idea of a widowed spouse trying to come to terms with grief and loss and unfinished business affected me deeply. Perhaps my (relatively) newly married status played a part in my emotional response. Imagining a time when one of us will be on our own, is heartbreaking. It was all too easy to feel Aaron’s pain.

Perhaps it is simply best to say that I was moved beyond words.

This is a book to savour slowly.

[Put] yourself in my place. Call to mind a person you’ve lost that you will miss to the end of your days, and then imagine happening upon that person out in public. You see your long-dead father sauntering ahead with his hands in his pockets. Or you hear your mother behind you calling, “Honey?” Or your little brother who fell through the ice the winter he was six, let’s say, passes by with his smell of menthol cough drops and damp mittens. You wouldn’t question your sanity, because you couldn’t bear to think this wasn’t real. And you certainly wouldn’t demand explanations, or alert anybody nearby, or reach out to touch this person, not even if you’d been feeling that one touch was worth giving up everything for. You would hold your breath. You would keep as still as possible. You would will your loved one not to go away again.

Release date: April 2012 Chatto & Windus

7 thoughts on “The Beginner’s Goodbye | Anne Tyler

  1. Did it feel short? When I saw it was just over 200 pages, I wondered at the length… She averages close to 300 usually. I so look forward to when I get to read it too.


  2. Perhaps because of the topic and the fact that I stopped at the end of a number of chapters to simply savour the moment, it felt like a longer read than it actually was. Tyler manages to convey a surprising amount in just 200 pages. For me it was very close to perfect 🙂


  3. A lovely review, and I’m adding it to my project page as it’s such a lovely reaction. I found it moving and enjoyable this time, and liked it a lot more than the last time I read it!


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