Books / Contemporary Fiction

What is a Beginner’s Goodbye?

This was the question I asked myself when I spotted The Beginner’s Goodbye: A Novel. The cover was minimalistic in a pleasing sort of way. Two distinct teacups sandwiched gingerly between a title and the author’s name.

Adding the book to my list, I picked it up at the library.

Anne Tyler spins literary magic from the first line of her book: “The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how other people reacted.” Both the style of her writing and her observations grip the reader and refuse to let go.

While The Beginner’s Goodbye is not a particularly suspenseful book, carefully dropped textual breadcrumbs leave the reader itching with questions. What is The Beginner’s Goodbye? How did his wife come back from the dead? How did she die? How can other people see her? How did this change his experience of loss?

Tyler is an astute observer of human behavior and character. Her book brings a little something extra to traditional tales of love and loss in its blend of staunch realism with a touch of the otherworldly.

The Beginner’s Goodbye is a good one afternoon book. Under 200 pages, it can be read in two to three hours.




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