I adore Anne Tyler’s books. She has the ability to craft numerous characters with such sharp observation.
Clock Dancebegins with formative moments in the life of Willa Drake, a gentle, amenable soul. The first is when her mother leaves and she feels responsible for caring for her younger sister. Ten years later she is in college and after a comment from her parents she decides to marry the man she was not sure she should marry. Twenty years on she becomes a widow, and single mother to two sons. Another ten years on and Willa’s sons have left home and she has remarried the humourless Peter.
Tyler captures Willa’s loneliness as she grapples with the loss of her sons. After years of being needed, her sons have left home and no one needs her anymore.
Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. It turns out the young woman was an ex-girlfriend of her sons and she had kept Willa’s number in her address book. A neighbour assumes Willa is the grandmother of the nine-year-old girl.
Although she has never met them before Willa feels buoyed by their need. She quickly becomes part of the community and makes herself quite indispensable.
A charming book that reminds us it’s never too late to choose your own path and make changes.
By Sophia WhitfieldOn September 2, 2012
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