A Patchwork Planet

A Patchwork Planet

3.78 (10,294 ratings on Goodreads)
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Barnaby Gaitlin has less in life than he once had. His ex-wife Natalie left him and their native Baltimore several years ago, taking their baby daughter Opal with her. He acquired an unalterably fixed position as the black sheep of the family. And this family isn't one where black sheep are tolerated. The Gaitlins are rich and worthy, supposedly guided by their own special angel to do the right thing...show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 109.22 x 170.18 x 33.02mm | 158.76g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099272687
  • 9780099272687
  • 100,987

Review Text

Tyler's appealing warmth and flair for eccentric comedy are abundantly displayed in her superb 14th novel, following close on the heels of such recent successes as Breathing Lessons (1988) and Saint Maybe (1991). The story's narrator and main character (and, arguably, hero) is Barnaby Gaitlin, an underachieving Baltimorean approaching 30 who's divorced, stuck in a no-future job (which he loves) with Rent-a-Back, performing miscellaneous chores for elderly and disabled people, and indebted, financially and otherwise, to his upscale parents (who manage a charitable foundation) for his well-remembered juvenile delinquency. A beautifully plotted and skillfully exfoliating narrative traces Bamaby's gradual shedding of his youthful indifference and irresponsibility, and immersion in a nest of relationships that stimulate his growth into the "good boy" his clients believe him to be. There isn't a saccharine moment in this affecting story, which begins as Barnaby, en route to visit his young daughter in Philadelphia, contrives to meet a pleasant woman traveler who unself-consciously agrees to perform a favor for a distraught stranger. The puzzle of Sophia Barnes's instinctive goodness draws Barnaby to her and, paradoxically, toward another "housebreaking" that is the making of him as it's also an ironic echo of the novel's opening action. Prominent among the unlikely reality instructors who simultaneously smooth and ruffle Barnaby's amusingly described passage toward maturity are his patient father and disapproving mother (who, it seems, cannot forgive her son for outgrowing his waywardness), and especially his several aged employers, all knowing they're headed toward death, yet uniformly determined to hold onto whatever world is left them (for example, Mrs. Alford, who dies only after completing her "quilt of our planet" - "makeshift and haphazard, clumsily cobbled together, overlapping and crowded and likely to fall into pieces at any moment"). Absolutely wonderful: Tyler's many admirers are sure to number this among her very best work. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"I was bowled over...I finished the book wishing it had been twice as long" -- Jeremy Paxman "I can think of no other writer whose novels I look forward to with such gleeful anticipation. A Patchwork Planet is her fourteenth book, but were it for fortieth, it would not be enough for me... A delight from beginning to end" Observer "Anne Tyler is inventive, funny and wise. Her fiction is magically alive to the quirks and coincidences of fate... [A Patchwork Planet] is charming, readable, and more full of touching and humane observations than many other novels you will read this year" Guardian "A Patchwork Planet is thoroughly enjoyable...from this most responsive novel" Sunday Times "Tyler's best book yet - which must make it pretty near perfection" The Timesshow more

About Anne Tyler

Born in Minneapolis in 1941, Anne Tyler lives in Baltimore where her novels are set. She is the Pulitzer-prize winning author of Breathing Lessons and other bestselling novels, including The Accidental Tourist, Saint Maybe, Back When We Were Grownups, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America and Noah's Compass. She has recently received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence, which recognises a lifetime's achievement in books.show more
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