Sunday 22 April 2012

The Beginner's Goodbye

Shoulda read a few reviews before purchasing Marilynne Robinson's When I Was a Child I Read Books. I thought it would be a novel like the wonderful Gilead but it was a collection of essays and unfortunately they didn't speak to me. If anyone would like my copy do let me know ... I ought to do a giveaway!

I've always hoped to find a pristine copy of Rumer Godden's Black Narcissus in a second-hand book store instead of numerous copies of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I need search no more. Virago Modern Classics have acquired fifteen Rumer Godden titles including Black Narcissus . I am so pleased about this. The Greengage Summer is my favourite coming-of-age novel and Rumer Godden is long overdue for a popular revival.

Very much enjoyed Anne Tyler's latest novel The Beginner's Goodbye but I don't think it is quite on a par with her great novels Breathing Lessons or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Aaron Woolcott's wife is killed when an oak tree smashes into their house while she is sitting out on the sunporch. While he is struggling to cope with the grief and loss his wife revists him, suddenly reappearing when he is shopping for vegetables or falling into step beside him as he strolls along the pavement. Whenever she appears she looks wistful or unhappy.

If you've read The Accidental Tourist you will remember that Macon writes travel books for people who don't like to travel. Tyler has some fun with a similar theme in this novel. Aaron works as an editor for his family publishing house which produces Beginner's Guides and 'vanity' titles. The office camaraderie and chitchat about the titles they publish is highly amusing.

You may have noticed some word links on my blog to very tacky ads. I didn't put them there - I've never wanted to monetise - and I think it is some kind of malware that I've reported to Blogger. Has anyone else had this problem?


Linda K said...

I see no way to contact you and wonder if you can e-mail me please.

Anbolyn said...

I flipped through the Robinson book when it came in at the library and it just didn't attract me. Sorry to hear it wasn't fabulous.
I am trying to find time to read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant - maybe when I finish up some of my challenges!

Teresa said...

I loved the Robinson book, but it is different from her novels and not at all what I had hoped, given the title. Sorry it wasn't the right read for you!

Kat said...

I haven't noticed the ads on your blog, but I did have that problem at Wordpress and had to pay $20 or something to get rid of the ads. I don't know what the policy is at Blogger.n

Bellezza said...

So love Anne Tyler's early works: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons and Ladder of Years. t's been years since I've read them and your posts stir in me a desire to reread them.

So glad you visited my blog; I've long admired yours.

Mystica said...

I just read Gilead (and review up on my blog). I found it rather heavy going but I handled it in stages and then found it very deep reading. It is also a book that made me reflect!

Strangely enough I read two of Anne Tyler's books and they did nothing for me. I was bored with the books!

Rachel said...

If no one else has nabbed it yet, Nicola, I'd love the Marilynne Robinson - I enjoy her writing so much that even if it's not up to Gilead standards I'm sure I'll still love her!

Did you read that marvellous interview with Anne Tyler in the Guardian last week? She is fantastic. A colleague who worked in the library with me when I was 18 introduced me to Tyler and promised that I'd love her, even though I was a 'bit young' - she gave me Ladder of Years and I have never looked back. I've been saving Breathing Lessons for a rainy day but I think I might have to make it my next book - it's too long since I've read any Tyler.

LizF said...

I have yet to read Anne Tyler's last few books, but I did really enjoy her earlier novels and I definitely think it's time to get up to date with her writing.
I envy you and your daughter getting to see her as she is one of those elusive writers.
It's good to hear about Virago's plans to reprint Rumer Godden's books.Funnily enough I have seen quite a few of her books in local charity shops recently including what turned out to be a first edition of 'China Court' which I pounced on with delight. I also found a copy of 'Battle of the Villa Fiorita' which I was equally pleased to find - neither are in pristine condition but they are fine for me.
Now what I want to find are old copies of Georgette Heyer's Regency novels (which seem to NEVER turn up in charity shops)and more of Richmal Crompton's adult books. I have exhausted the county library's reserve of the latter(all three of them!) and I know that there are still quite a few out there - just not online at a reasonable price!
I would also love to find books by Ann Bridge and Angela Thirkell too - I found a mini stash of Thirkell books at our local Oxfam a few months ago but nothing since!

lifeonthecutoff said...

You have reminded me of how much I enjoy Anne Tyler and should revisit some of them, or this new one, sometime soon. Here it goes, onto my to read list. Thank you.

Amy said...

I had the same thing show up on my blog last week, but when friends looked at my blog, the underscores weren't there. It's not happening now, so I assume it was some kind of temporary hack.

Ellen said...

Hello, loving your blog. I really liked Gilead and Home and have got Housekeeping to read. So her latest is best avoided then? I was also at he Anne Tyler event at Oxford, cannot wait to read her latest, made extra special by being a signed copy!

Sunday Taylor said...

I am so happy to hear about the new Anne Tyler book. I haven't read her for a long time and will now pick this one up. I loved "The Accidental Tourist" and "Saint Maybe."

Darlene said...

Have you read Godden's 'An Episode of Sparrows', Nicola? I read it a handful of months ago and still find myself thinking about it. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of a second title to look for.

Vintage Reading said...

Hi Linda, I've given the Robinson away now but I will be doing more giveaways in the future.

Anbolyn, I didn't even give the Robinson my 50 page test, just couldn't get into it, probably my failing!

Teresa, I don't like giving up on books but at heart I prefer novels to essays. She is speaking at Oxford in May, by the way.

Kat, I've still got the ads popping up and can't get rid of them, outrageous that you had to pay to remove unwanted ads from your own site!

Bellezza, I've just re-read Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Beautifully written but oh so sad. When I saw Tyler last month she said that it is her favourite of all the novels she has written and the one which most closely resembles what she intended when she started out.

Mystica, I loved Gilead but I found Home hard-going. Sorry Tyler wasn't your cup of tea!

Rachel, yes, Guardian interview was superb! Interesting that you loved Tyler at 18! I didn't discover her until much later in life. I think Breathing Lessons is her finest work but I know A Patchwork Planet has its admirers, too! Hope you do some Tyler posts.

Lizf, lucky you to find a first edition of China Court! My best ever find was Elizabeth Jenkins Jane Austen biog. I don't think I've ever seen Heyer or Crompton in a charity bookshop either. We ought to start up some sort of national exchange scheme!

Lifeonthecuff, await your Tyler posts. Possibly a challenge if enough bloggers were interested!

Amy, I'm still having problems, tempted to throw my laptop out of the window!

Hi Ellen, I tried to comment on your Tyler post but couldn't get through! Delighted to 'meet' another Tyler reader who was at Oxford. Fabulous day. I loved Gilead and Housekeeping but was a bit meh about Home. I thought the new book was a novel and it wasn't. My fault!

Sunday, oh yes, Saint Maybe, read that over Christmas. Great book!

Darlene, no, but I saw your review and wanted to read it. Godden is a wonderful writer and I love it when bloggers review her!