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Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

Good Housekeeping's view...

October 2009 Good Housekeeping selection.

Liam is 60, recently redundant, twice married, now single, and about to move into a sterile apartment with just his rocking chair and wry world-view. But a bang on the head and memory loss lead him to meet comfy-bosomed Eunice, who is 38, with a penchant for ample-sized harem pants and keeping whopping skeletons in her closet. This new story by the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Breathing Lessons is written with such heart and humour you’ll ration the pages in the hope it will never end.

If you like Anne Tyler you might also like to read books by Zoe Heller, Tracy Chevalier and Maggie Shipstead.

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Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler

Quintessential Tyler, yet full of surprises - a perfectly pitched, enchanting and affecting novel about a man adrift in his own life, Noah's Compass chimes gently, heartbreakingly with our times.

With the humour and poignancy of her classic The Accidental Tourist (though with a protagonist who doesn't venture far from home) Anne Tyler's new novel tells the story of a year in the life of Liam Pennywell, a man in his sixty-first year. A classical pedant, he's just been 'let go' from his schoolteaching job and downsizes to a tiny out-of-town apartment, where he goes to bed early and alone on his first night.

Widowed, re-married, divorced and the father of three daughters, Liam is a man who is proud of his recall but has learned to dodge issues and skirt adventure. An unpleasant event occurs, though, to jolt him out of his certainty. Obsessed with a frightening gap in his memory, he sets out to uncover what happened, and finds instead an unusual woman with secrets of her own, and a late-flowering love that brings its own thorny problems. His ex-wife (sensible Barbara) and daughters worry about him but Liam blunders on, His teenage daughter Kitty is sent to stay - though it's not clear who is minding whom. His middle daughter, Louise, is a born-again Christian with a son called Jonah, but her certainties leave Liam still more perplexed.

Noah's Compass is about memory and its loss, about incidents and relationships which open up sight lines into a painful past long dead for a man who becomes aware that merely trying to stay afloat may not be enough.

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About the Author

Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. This is Anne Tyler’s sixteenth novel; her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore. In 2012 Anne Tyler was the winner of the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th August 2009


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Chatto & Windus an imprint of Vintage




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