Review: Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

Willa Drake has always had the course of her life laid out for her by other people, her mother who would disappear at times and her boyfriend who proposed to her at the airport (and a marriage that forced her to give up her degree,) and then by her husband's unexpected death when she was in her forties. So when she gets a phone call out of the blue to say that her son's ex-girlfriend (who she never met,) has been shot, no one is more surprised than Willa herself when she volunteers to look after Denise and her daughter Cheryl. What follows is a series of events that causes Willa to think about what she actually wants out of life and how she may be able to choose her own path after all.

Anne Tyler has a unique talent for writing about the inner lives of the kinds of people who go unnoticed in everyday life. Although she does her best with Willa, this novel does not hold up as well as some of her other works, such as Booker Prize nominated Redhead At the Side of the Road. With this one, the situation is just that little bit too implausible, the characters not quite developed enough, in spite of the fact that the first three chapters feel overlong and a tad dull. Still, the idea is a lovely one and I enjoyed the dynamic between Willa, Denise and Cheryl.

Not Tyler's best, but pleasant enough.


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