From the Pulitzer prize-winning Sunday Times bestseller Anne Tyler. Saint Maybe is now re-jacketed along with the rest of Tyler's books in striking new backlist style
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her bestselling novels include Breathing Lessons, The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Ladder of Years, Back When We Were Grownups, A Patchwork Planet, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America, A Spool of Blue Thread, Vinegar Girl, Clock Dance and Redhead by the Side of the Road. In 1989 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons; in 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English'; in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence; and in 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize.
The distinctive characters, the soul-shattering events, the quirky wit of Tyler's recent novels--the Pulitzer Prize-winning Breathing Lessons and The Accidental Tourist --all appear, at first, to be here. Ian Bedloe, the youngest, golden child of a happy family, causes his brother's death. Searching for relief from his guilt, he wanders into the Church of the Second Chance and finds that forgiveness can be his through atonement. So for the next 20-odd years, he devotes himself to raising the three children brother Danny and Danny's wife Lucy (who took her own life shortly after his death) left behind and to following the precepts of his church. Though his need for absolution is understandable, his plodding path toward forgiveness--of himself and of Danny and Lucy, whose deaths altered his life so irrevocably--lacks the inventiveness we have come to expect of Tyler. As Ian's mother says about halfway through the novel, ``We've had extraordinary troubles. . . and somehow they've turned us ordinary . . . . We're not a special family anymore.'' And though the characters have a palpable reality, this novel is more ``ordinary'' than Tyler's previous ones. Still, expect demand. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/91; BOMC main selection.-- Francine Fialkoff, ``Library Journal''
Although Tyler ( Breathing Lessons ; Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant ) is again writing about families--the way they cleave together in times of trouble and muddle through with stoic courage--her eminently satisfying new novel breaks her familiar mold, giving us ordinary, not eccentric characters who are shaped by disastrous events into quietly heroic behavior. The Bedloes are cheerful and count their blessings, even if they are far from rich and live on a slightly seedy street in Baltimore. But when 17-year-old Ian rashly informs his older brother Dan that the latter's wife was undoubtedly pregnant before their marriage, Dan commits suicide, and Ian is left with profound guilt--especially since Dan's wife dies soon after. Asking God's forgiveness, he receives spiritual guidance at the endearingly shabby Church of the Second Chance. He drops out of college, becomes a carpenter and helps his parents care for the three orphaned children; as the years pass, that burden falls primarily on Ian's shoulders. Wondering when God will signal that his atonement can end, Ian has an epiphany: ``You could never call it a penance, to have to care for those three.'' Ian eventually does construct a life for himself, in one of Tyler's most appealing endings. The narrative also enjoys her whimsical humor (although the group role of the ``foreigners'' who live in the neighborhood verges on caricature). Since her characters' foibles never overwhelm their homespun simplicity, the reader is emotionally involved and touched as never before. 250,000 first printing; BOMC main selection; first serial to the New Yorker. (Sept.)
YA-- All is well with the Bedloe's Baltimore family until Danny, the eldest son, announces his engagement to Lucy, a woman he has known for only two weeks and who is the mother of two small children, Agatha and Thomas. Their own daughter, Daphne, is born sooner than expected that same year. The suicides of first Danny and then Lucy are unexplained, and all but destroy the Bedloe family. While only a college freshman, Ian, Danny's younger brother, returns home to raise the orphaned children and to search for his own salvation through the Church of the Second Chance. Tyler's remarkable novel pulls at the heart strings and jogs the memories of forgotten youth. Ian's story is neither action packed nor fast moving, but each page will be eagerly anticipated. While the majority of YA readers lack enough life experiences to appreciate the pure joy of Tyler's descriptions and thoughts, not to steer them in her direction would be a shame. --Katherine Fitch, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke, VA
"Compulsively readable, realistic, funny, touching" The Times "Saint Maybe shows Anne Tyler at the peak of her power - a real slice of middle America, blessed with equal amounts of humour, pathos and compassion that will ensure heartfelt devotion from all her readers" Time Out "A brilliant writer of emotionally sophisticated novels, funny, tragic, wise" -- Lynne Truss "One of the truest writers alive" Sunday Times