The Beginner's Goodbye (Anglais) Relié – 5 avril 2012
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Description du produit
Revue de presse
Tyler strips away layers of everyday life to reveal the abyss of pain underneath but does so with such skill and sparkling wit it makes this a real celebration of life (Vanessa Berridge Daily Express)
This is what Tyler does better than almost any contemporary writer. She peers at the forgotten areas of the everyday, the bits that are hard to pinpoint, yet make up the bulk of our relationships. And this, ultimately, is why she is such a satisfying writer: she looks at people - at life - from the inside out (Lucy Atkins Sunday Times)
A simple, subtle and really honest account of how one man, Aaron, deals with the darkly comic death of his dumpy, clever and brilliant wife Dorothy... I finished it in one sitting (Alix Walker Stylist)
A perfectly judged and brilliantly executed novel of loss and recovery (Woman & Home)
Présentation de l'éditeur
When Dorothy came back from the dead, Aaron noticed that some people simply ignored the fact; some seemed to have forgotten she had died in the first place; and others just walked straight on by.
The accident that killed Dorothy -- involving an oak tree, a sun porch and some elusive biscuits -- leaves Aaron bereft and the house a wreck. As those around him fuss and flap and bring him casserole after casserole, Aaron ploughs on. He busies himself with work at the family firm, a publisher with a successful line in 'Beginner's Guides' to every stage and aspect of life. But then Dorothy starts to materialize in the oddest places. At first, she only comes for a short while, leaving Aaron longing for more. Gradually she stays for longer, and as they talk they also bicker ...
The cracks that start to reappear in their perfectly normal marriage are as well worn and familiar to Aaron as Dorothy herself. As Aaron starts to emerge from his grief, they are also a reassuringly poignant reminder that life may move on, but some things will forever remain the same.
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Meilleurs commentaires des clients
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Warm, unsentimental, sometimes very funny page turner. Will read more of her books. Highly recommended
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com
The central character, Aaron, has lost his spouse, not his child, but proceeds through, like Macon in TAT, the seeming impossible pain and numbness of the first hours to a reconciliation of sorts. Again, some of the wittiest passages concern day-to-day operations and titles of a small publications company in Baltimore where Aaron works as an editor. There is the retreat to the family home, where Aaron's sister, like Macon's, maintains a living memory of their childhoods, and the consequent abandonment of Aaron's marriage home. This house, like Edward the dog in TAT, is a foil character in the story; as it is rebuilt from the accident that killed Aaron's wife, Aaron himself is able somewhat unconsciously to rebuild. This reconstruction can only be effected through the agency of others - family, friends, coworkers, community. It is a theme we encounter again and again in Tyler, our necessary social dependence, and the struggle of the wounded loner to accept it, rejoice in it.
The protagonist speaks from the first person, an unusual choice for Tyler.
Like her other novels, The Beginner's Goodbye is a roman a clef, and the key is to be found, like in Shakespeare, in the swear words. Aaron thanks heaven. "Jesus, Dad," the dead twelve-year-old Ethan complains in TAT about a movie theatre seat. These are two examples of a device that proliferates throughout her body of work. They are worth a dissertation study all on their own.
The story opened with the protagonist, Aaron Woolcott, announcing, “The strangest thing about my wife’s return from the dead was how people reacted.” The rest of the chapter followed Aaron, accompanied by his dead wife Dorothy, on a host of normal daily activities. It’s not until Chapter 2 that we found out how Dorothy died. This was my favorite chapter, you felt like you were living through it with Aaron.
The accident that killed Dorothy also severely damaged their home. Aaron had to move into his sister’s (Nandina) home until all repairs could be made to the house. Aaron returned to work within days of Dorothy’s death. He worked for his family’s business, Woolcott Publishing, with his sister. He had worked with the same people for most of his adult life. They published the “Beginner’s” this and that series of books. Aaron’s way of dealing with his grief was avoidance of everyone close to him, even his sister who he lived with.
Aaron and Dorothy were a mismatched couple according to everyone that knew them. Dorothy was eight years older and much shorter than Aaron. She was a doctor with no social skills and he was social. She looked frumpy and didn’t care about fashion or her appearance. Aaron had physical issues and was left without the full use of his right side from a virus in childhood. He also stammered from time to time. Aaron worked for the family business and Dorothy was estranged from her family. The reader was told that Aaron and Dorothy had been married for 11 years, “happily, unremarkably.” This marriage appeared rather dull and uninteresting, but with some mutual romantic benefit.
Aaron and Dorothy did have an affection between them laced throughout the story, but the relationship truly did seem “unremarkable.” There’s a glimpse of passion when Dorothy dies, but other than that it feels more like a fondness. I didn’t feel real suffering from Aaron, but Dorothy’s appearances must be his way of dealing with his loss, he is after all a “Beginner.”
I was reading another book on death, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” by Joan Didion. Didion’s book is an account of the year after the loss of her husband who died unexpectedly. Her daughter was also gravely ill at the time. Of course, Didion’s book is nonfiction and Tyler’s book is fiction, but I happened to read them within a month of each other. Didion’s book is extremely powerful. The emotions are raw, and you experience her loss with her.
After going over and over so many different instances Didion wrote, “Would I need to relive every mistake.” Absolute loss of someone you have been so intimate with for years is the number one stressor. Death of a spouse has held that position for decades on multiple research studies. Didion shows us exactly how she felt throughout the year. A fear had settled over her at one point and the following is the excerpt from her book:
“There came a time in the summer when I began feeling fragile, unstable. A sandal would catch on a sidewalk and I would need to run a few steps to avoid the fall. What if I didn’t? What if I fell? What would break, who would see the blood streaming down my leg, who would get the taxi, who would be with me in the emergency room? Who would be with me once I came home?”
We can all imagine the isolation and loneliness Didion was feeling.
In Tyler's book Aaron also relived his conversations and mistakes with Dorothy. I just never felt the loss like I did with Didion. The love Didion had for her husband was shown in every paragraph and every line. I didn’t see that kind of love in Aaron for Dorothy.
There are all kinds of love and marriages out there and that’s a good topic to bring up for book club. “The Beginner’s Goodbye,” lets you explore death without the immense heaviness of some other books on the subject. I think this is a good read for book clubs even with death as the subject. Tyler creates these characters that are so unique and memorable and yet so like all of us.
Tyler’s writing is subtle, and we as readers need to slow down and breathe when reading her work. There is no wave after wave of unbelievable tension in her stories, just normal lives under normal circumstances.
Tyler doesn’t do book tours or give in-person interviews (except one recent interview with USA Today. Here is the link if you want to read it: [...]