Friday, January 29, 2010

14 - Noah's Compass; Anne Tyler

Noah's Compass; Anne Tyler
Call me a sucker for books about "sad-sacks" and the "under-dog", so imagine my delight when I read the first two paragraphs of Anne Tyler's new book: Noah's Compass.........

(Page 3...   In the sixty-first year of his life, Liam Pennywell lost his job. It wasn't such a good job, anyhow. He'd been teaching fifth-grade in a second-rate private boy's school.  Fifth grade wasn't even what he'd been trained for. TEACHING wasn't what he'd been trained for. His degree was in philosophy. Oh, but don't ask. Things seemed to have taken a downward turn a long, long time ago, and perhaps it was just as well that he had seen the last of St. Dufrig's dusty, scuffed corridors and those interminable after-school meetings and the reams of niggling paperwork.

In fact, this might be a sign. It could be just the nudge he needed to push him on to the next stage --the final stage, the summing up stage. The stage where he sat in his rocking chair and reflected on what it all meant, in the end."

So when circumstances bring Liam to the final chapter of his life, " short, stocky and out of shape" Liam, decides to scale down his possessions and move to a smaller place on the outskirts of Baltimore. The night of the move Liam goes to bed exhausted, and when he wakes up the next day, he is in the hospital with a sore and bandaged head. Liam has no memory as to what happened to him the night before, he only recalls going to bed the night before.

Unable to deal with the fact that he can't recall the incident that landed him in the hospital,  he decides to see a Neurologist. While he is at the doctor's office he meets Eunice, a professional "rememberer", hired by a aged, wealthy man with Alzheimer's. Liam is so impressed, that he believes Eunice is the answer to helping him remember what happened to him. Eunice agrees to help Liam, but this story is not all doom and gloom, there is humor and comic relief to be had for the reader.It is, however, the head injury which occurs at the very beginning of this novel, that becomes somewhat of a catalyst for the story of Liam's life.

So the title Noah's Compass is significant; his "compass" being Liam's memories. Not just of how he got the head injury, but his memories of his life in general, which  has been somewhat of a self-imposed amnesia, that helped him block out failures and disappointments in his life.

MY THOUGHTS - I LOVED this novel. Liam is a humble, unassuming sad-sack that tugged on my heart-strings but also made me laugh. Humorous, yet poignant, Anne Tyler has written a winner. A story about a quiet man, in the final stage of his life, who is searching for the meaning in the life he has lived. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - 5/5 stars

(Thanks go to Doubleday for sending me a final copy of this book for review)

19 comments:

  1. I've been eying this book for a while. After your review, I think I'll go ahead and order it. Thanks!

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  2. I'm so excited that you liked this because I have been looking forward to reading it.

    -Amy
    Life by Candlelight

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  3. I haven't read any Anne Tyler books -- do you have a favorite?

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  4. Kim,

    This was my favorite Tyler book, but I also liked Digging to America, Ladder of the Years and Back When We Were Gown Ups.

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  5. I LOVE Anne Tyler. She is so underrated! I'm going to like out for this at the library, and I have Breathing Lessons on my TBR.

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  6. I have a tremendous weakness for sad-sacks, underdogs and quirky characters. And I LOVE Anne Tyler. Thank you for getting me excited about reading this book.

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  7. When I first read the summary of this novel, I thought it would be one to which I could relate. I just picked up a copy from the library (along with approximately 10 other books!), but I think this one may have to be bumped to the top of the list.

    What an awesome review!

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  8. It's nice to hear someone raving about this. I haven't read any Anne Tyler for a long while, but she used to be one of my 'heart' authors. Also, my son's name is on the title. :)

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  9. I share your weakness for sad sacks ... and I'm a huge Anne Tyler fan. This sounds wonderful. I'm putting it on my list!

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  10. I've never met an Anne Tyler book I didn't like! They always make me think.

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  11. I also enjoyed Digging To America. I'll have to read more Anne Tyler. This one seems like a good place to start. Thanks for the great review!

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  12. I can't wait to read this one! I will probably read Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons first though.

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  13. Great review! This book is totally not what I expected. I can't wait to read it this year. Sometime....oh so many great stories to read out there. Thanks.

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  14. I'm a sucker for sad sacks too! And I forgot Tyler wrote Back When We Were Grownups - good one ~

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  15. I love Anne Tyler's work, so I'm really excited to see this book is so good! Great review!

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  16. I picked this up at work the other day and thumbed through it a bit and knew it was something I'd like to read. I'm probably going to wait and get it from the library (or when it comes out in paperback), but I'm so glad to know you loved it!

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  17. I have a few books by Tyler on my shelves, but this isn't one of them. I love stories about sad sacks as well, so this book sounds like something I would enjoy. It's great to hear that there are funny moments as well. Glad you liked this book so much!

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  18. I've enjoyed the Anne Tyler books I've read and this one looks great.

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  19. Diane, this was wonderful! Staci led me over here because I just wrote about Noah's Compass. I don't know about you, but I don't like to think that at 62 I'm in the final stage! I so loved the characters in this book.

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