I’m an Anne Tyler fan having read most of her novels and she’s got a dedicated section in my bookcase. So when I see something new by her, I tend to head right out and get a copy of her latest offering. Noah’s Compass tells the story of Liam Pennywell, a middle-aged educator, who due to teacher downsizing finds himself without a job. Upheaval for anyone at that stage in their life, but add the fact that Liam then moves into a new smaller apartment, only to be assaulted by an intruder on his very first night there and a story begins to unfold.
Liam wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of what happened to him - - and it bothers him. It also annoys him that his family and friends all tell him to “let it go,” and doctors say that he may never fully recall the incident. Liam is not very accepting of all that advice and goes about trying to uncover that’s night’s memory anyway.
Liam is a rumply sort of fellow, living a humdrum sort of life. There’s a somewhat annoying teenage daughter who ends up spending the summer with him, an “I told you so” ex-wife that makes a brief appearance, and a new frumpy female friend named Eunice, who turns out is less than honest with Liam about more than a few things.
Sounds like it could be anyone’s ordinary daily life, doesn’t it? That’s what I like about Anne Tyler - - you can see smidgens of yourself and your ordinary life in her characters and pages. No one is a rock star, model, political hero, or even a rampaging serial killer. They’re real people. Matter-of-fact kind of people. And I like reading about ordinary people and not dreamed up superstars in over-the-top scenarios. And somehow Anne Tyler makes it all seem really interesting. Hmmm . . . if only my own life were so interesting.
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