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Back when we were grownups
Anne Tyler
Adult Fiction TYLER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

On the first page of Tyler's stunning new novel, Rebecca Davitch, the heroine (and heroine is exactly the right word) realizes that she has become the "wrong person." No longer the "serene and dignified young woman" she was at 20, at 53 Rebecca finds she has become family caretaker and cheerleader, a woman with a "style of dress edging dangerously close to Bag Lady." So she tries to do something about it. In the midst of her busy life as mother, grandmother and proprietor of the family business, the Open Arms (she hosts parties in the family's old Baltimore row house), Rebecca attempts to pick up the life she was leading before she married, back when she felt grownup. She visits her hometown in Virginia, locates the boyfriend she jilted and renews her intellectual interests. But as Rebecca ponders the life-that-might-have-been, the reader learns about the life-that-was. At 20, she left college and abandoned her high school sweetheart to marry a man who already had a large family to support. A year later, she had a baby of her own; five years later, her husband died in an auto accident, and she was left to raise four daughters, tend to her aging uncle-in-law and support them all. And a difficult lot they are, seldom crediting Rebecca for holding her rangy family together. Yet like all of Tyler's characters, they are charming in their dysfunction. And much as one feels for Rebecca, much as one wants her to find love, it's difficult to imagine her leaving or upsetting the family order. Tyler (The Accidental Tourist; Breathing Lessons) has a gift for creating endearing characters, but readers should find Rebecca particularly appealing, for despite the blows she takes, she bravely keeps on trying. Tyler also has a gift genius is more like it for unfurling intricate stories effortlessly, as if by whimsy or accident. The ease of her storytelling here is breathtaking, but almost unnoticeable because, rather like Rebecca, Tyler never calls attention to what she does. Late in the novel, Rebecca observes that her younger self had wanted to believe "that there were grander motivations in history than mere family and friends, mere domestic happenstance." Tyler makes it plain: nothing could be more grand. (May 8) Forecast: A 250,000 first printing seems almost modest considering the charms of Tyler's latest and the devotion of her readers. A Random House audiobook and a large-print edition will appear simultaneously, and the book is a BOMC main selection and an alternate selection of QPB, the Literary Guild, the Doubleday Book Club and Doubleday Large Print. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

After recovering from the shock of becoming a widow in her mid-twenties, Rebecca "Beck" Davitch has spent several busy decades occupied with managing both her quirky clan of in-laws and their party-hosting business. She has become the heart and soul of the extended family and of The Open Arms, the family's historic row house, which is still popular as a rental for special occasions though the surrounding neighborhood is deteriorating. At 53, Beck is feeling a little rundown herself. She wonders what became of the serious college student she once was and whether she took the right path when she followed her heart to the altar at 19. Beck thus embarks on a quixotic interior journey, with results both funny and touching, as she explores the differences between being herself and playing the roles assigned to her by the family. Elements common to Tyler's other fiction are present here: a well-rendered Baltimore setting, a large cast of eccentric characters, and a thoughtful presentation of themes related to marriage, aging, and making difficult choices. Together with Tyler's finely tuned prose, they create a satisfying whole for the enjoyment of the author's many fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Rebecca "Beck" Davitch
Female
Age: 53
Widow



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