Clock Dance
by Tyler, Anne






After receiving a call from a stranger about her son's ex-girlfriend being injured, Willa flies across the country to Baltimore to take care of her and her nine-year-old daughter.





ANNE TYLER is the author of more than twenty novels. Her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.





*Starred Review* Tyler, a master of homey enchantment and sly social evisceration whose storytelling finesse has propelled more than 20 novels-including A Spool of Blue Thread (2015) and her clever contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series, Vinegar Girl (2016)-now delivers an especially lithe and enlivening tale. Willa Drake is a sensitive, patient, and determined 11-year-old in 1967, with a gentle father and a mercurial and wounding mother. In this ensnaring novel's first half, Tyler ticktocks through Willa's life as she becomes a college student, a wife and mother of two sons in California, a young widow, and a new wife to a golf-loving, semiretired executive in Arizona. Willa is neat, sweet, pretty, and gracefully acquiescent, until she receives a phone call from Baltimore, where Denise, a betrayed ex-girlfriend of Willa's older son, is in the hospital after an accidental shooting, leaving her young daughter and dog alone in their humble home. There is no tie between them, yet Willa feels summoned, and then, as she makes herself useful on a funky city block among motley, struggling, warmhearted neighbors, she feels needed. And liberated. Tyler's bedazzling yet fathoms-deep feel-good novel is wrought with nimble humor, intricate understanding of emotions and family, place and community-and bounteous pleasure in quirkiness, discovery, and renewal.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Quintessential Tyler, this brilliant, charming, and book-club-ready novel of quiet transformation will be heralded with a major promotional campaign. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





After a lightweight foray into rewriting Shakespeare (Vinegar Girl, 2016, etc.), Tyler returns to her tried-and-true theme of family life's emotionally charged complexities. Eleven-year-old Willa Drake doesn't really understand the fraught interchanges between her volatile mother and maddeningly mild-mannered father that roil the novel's opening chapter, set in Pennsylvania in 1967. But as the action leapfrogs to 1977 and she impulsively decides to marry college boyfriend Derek after he stands up to her mother on their first meeting, we see that, in a world of self-dramatizers and placaters, Willa has unconsciously decided to be a placater. The chapter detailing Derek's death in a California road-rage incident in 1997 suggests that Willa's placatory pattern is firmly set, an impression buttressed as Part II begins with 61-year-old Willa now married to Peter, another man who patronizes her and expects her to cater to his every whim. But then comes a phone call from Baltimore, where her son's ex-girlfriend Denise has been hospitalized with a broken leg after a mysterious shooting incident by a neighbor under the mistaken impression that Denise's daughter is Willa's granddaughter. This brazenly schematic setup for Willa's late-life regeneration is redeemed by the fact that it's utterly characteristic of our maddeningly mild-mannered heroine that she not only doesn't correct the misunderstanding, but gets on a plane to Baltimore, with Peter in tow complaining all the way. Power dynamics are never simple in Tyler's portraits of marriage, and when Willa needs to, she quietly gets what she wants. As she gets to know Denise's prematurely mature daughter, Cheryl, and the array of eccentric folks on their slightly seedy block—all vibrantly portrayed with Tyler's usual low-key gusto and bracingly dark humor—readers will want Willa to see that others appreciate her sly wit and tolerant acceptance of people's foibles as whiny Peter does not. But w ill she? Tyler drags out the suspense a tad longer than the slight plot merits. More predictable and less profound than her most recent full-scale work (the magical A Spool of Blue Thread, 2015), but Tyler's characteristic warmth and affection for her characters are as engaging as ever. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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