Ben Joe is the only boy in a family of six sisters, Mama and Gram. He is studying for a law degree in New York when he hears his eldest sister Joanne has left her husband and returned home with her baby girl. Out of a mixture of homesickness and duty Ben Joe returns to the home in which he has always felt like an outsider.
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(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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US Kirkus Review »
A modest style, a gentle, bumbling protagonist, and family events in a low key, lend this novel a deceptive aura of ease, for just an eyeblink away from the surface action is an ambitious and tantalizing notion of love, time and identity. Homesick Ben Joe Hawkes, law student in New York City, returns to his North Carolina home town for a few days to keep tabs on his five sisters, a mother and grandmother. The endearing vision of his female household, rustling in picnic dresses, evaporates, and reality takes hold - the sisters chatter but do not communicate their secrets; a returned sister Joanne has recently left her husband, but cannot heed a warning from Ben Joe; his tired, quiet mother is widowed before the actual death of her husband by his turning to another woman; a buoyant grandmother is weary to tears at the death of a childhood acquaintance. Ben Joe visits around, drifts into an engagement with a girl who desperately loves him, and reaches for a family tie that would bind, but the family he feels he possesses eludes him; a dead father never seems to point a direction; and people in the passing from past, present and future never seem to touch hands. An understanding of the locked and separate identities of human beings offers a key and Ben Joe comprehends his future. A skillful tale and a joy to read. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Breathing Lessons and many other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, A Patchwork Planet, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America and The Beginner's Goodbye. In 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English' and in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime's achievement in books. In 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and shortlisted for both the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize. Her latest novel, Vinegar Girl, is a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew.