Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Clock Dance

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Penguin Random House: 7/10/18
eBook review copy; 304 pages
ISBN-13: 9780525521228

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler is a very highly recommended story about defining moments in a woman's life. I love and adore Anne Tyler's writing and Clock Dance is a wonderful addition to her oeuvre.

The novel is broken into four parts, the four defining times in Willa Drake's life.  In 1967, Willa is an eleven-year-old girl whose abusive, volatile, and temperamental mother has decided to leave her complaisant husband and two daughters for a brief period of time, again. In 1977, she is a college coed whose boyfriend Derek wants to marry her and is meeting her parents for the first time. In 1997, she is forty-one, has two sons, and is newly widowed. And in 2017, she is married to Peter, a golf widow living in Arizona, and yearns to be a grandmother.  Clearly, Willa has chosen to follow her father's example and she is an appeaser in relationships, always catering to the whims of others and trying to please them.

In 2017 Willa receives phone call from a neighbor to her son's former girlfriend, Denise. The neighbor tells Willa that Denise has been shot in the leg and her nine-year-old daughter, Cheryl, and dog, Airplane, needs someone else to stay with them. The neighbor got Willa's phone number from Denise's home, and called her assuming she is Cheryl's grandmother. Willa, always helpful, agrees to fly out to stay with Cheryl in the blue-collar Baltimore neighborhood, and Peter begrudgingly makes plans for them both to go.

As expected the writing is simply extraordinary. Tyler does an excellent job taking ordinary, average people and portraying them in totality, good and bad, strengths and flaws. Willa is a wonderful, fully realized character. I understood and empathized with her. Time does seem to dance by and as you look back on your life, there are defining moments along the way, but it is never to late to make a change. Tyler's novels and the characters she creates to inhabit them are always quietly phenomenal. They unassumingly live in the real world, face real situations, and do their best based on the circumstances. This is a novel about family, keeping your own council, second chances, self-discovery, and, ultimately, hope. I absolutely love Clock Dance.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House as part of the First to Read program.

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