Thursday, September 22, 2011

NOAH'S COMPASS – Anne Tyler


Read this title a few weeks ago and going through my documents I realized I forgot to blog! Yikes, hope I can remember enough.

A few years ago (maybe 10 or 15) My friend Paula and I got interested in reading Anne Tyler. Her books all take place in Baltimore and are about quirky personalities. They aren't really fast moving or plot driven. What keeps one reading are the unique people, the odd things that happen, and the difference between how the characters behave in light of what the reader would expect.

You may remember some of her books that were made into movies like Breathing Lessons (James Garner & Joanne Woodward) and The Accidental Tourist (William Hurt & Geena Davis) which were two of my favorite books along with Saint Maybe which I don't think was a movie but was a great read.

Noah... is a pretty short novel and not mentally taxing, just fun. Liam Pennywell is 60. He has failed at two marriages and has been fired from his job as a teacher at a boys school. He isn't great at his relationships with his grown daughters either and doesn't even know why. But he isn't depressed or self-pitying at all. He knows he has to conserve and so he procedes to downsize and finds an apartment to move into. On his first night there his apartment is broken into and he is knocked unconscience. From there it is a continuous revolving door of daughters, ex-wife and others trying to help him get back on his feet. However, he cannot remember being accosted and embarks on a quest to remember. Liam desperately wants to recapture the lost hours even though everyone tells him it would be better not to know. While on this quest he meets Eunice a very unusual young woman who becomes his best friend and accomplice in his quest. I know this sounds not very interesting but it is hilarious and so fun. You get to know Liam as the very flawed person who doesn't understand himself or his family but is nevertheless a decent and caring man. Plus there is a somewhat shocking turn I didn't see coming at all involving Eunice!

Liam's daughter who has joined some type of charasmatic fundamentalist church (with lots of rules of what not to do) asks him to babysit for her unusual little boy while she has several appointments. He does so and over a few weeks bonds with the boy and reads Noah's Ark to him trying his best to answer the boy's pointed questions about the story without angering his daughter – hence the title comes from one of those questions/answers about Noah and the Ark. If you like character analysis and quirky plots you will like Noah's Compass.

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