Thursday, June 03, 2021

Fiction Review: Clock Dance

For Mother's Day, my son gave me Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. My husband and I both enjoyed some of Tyler's earliest novels, like Breathing Lessons and The Accidental Tourist, but then we sort of lost track of her, so I've been wanting to read her more recent novels. Clock Dance reminded me of what a talented writer Tyler is. I loved this warm, sweet novel and can’t wait to read more of Tyler’s recent work.


The novel opens to the story of a young girl named Willa growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1967, with a little sister, a kind father, and an unreliable mother. Willa’s life is turned upside down when her mother leaves without a word, with the family upset and not knowing when she’ll come back. The novel visits Willa's life at four different times--1967, 1977, 1997, and 2017--and Willa has a chance to change her life at each of these major turning points. In 1977, her college boyfriend asks her to marry him, though she’d prefer to wait a year and finish her degree first. In 1997, a major tragedy completely upends Willa’s quiet life as a wife, mother, and part-time professor. And in 2017, Willa receives a phone call from a stranger with a tenuous link to her who asks for her help. Acting impulsively for the first time in her life, Willa travels across the country to Baltimore to help these people she’s never met. While there, her eyes are opened to a whole different kind of life among a group of quirky but kind people.


I'd forgotten just how amazing Tyler's writing is! This novel is heartwarming, immersive, funny, and uplifting, all about community and found families. It’s peopled by the kind of quirky, likable characters Tyler is known for, especially that last part of the story in Baltimore. I loved every minute of it, and even though the ending was perfect, I was so sad to leave Willa and her friends behind. I'm still thinking about it and missing it weeks later, so that should tell you something! Now that I know what I’ve been missing, I will be reading more from Anne Tyler.


304 pages, Vintage


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, from the first chapter, in 1967, and/or download it from Audible.


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Or you can order Clock Dance from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. Yes! Like you I lost track of Anne Tyler as well! I'll need to add your read to my want to read! Thank you for sharing!

  2. LOL! It was already there! :)

  3. I like the idea of checking in with a character every 10 years and getting to see where each of the major decisions has taken them. I haven't read an Anne Tyler book in many years.

    1. John Boyne used a similar technique in The Heart's Invisible Furies (one of my 10-star reads this year!), checking in with his main character every 7 years. Funny so many others are saying they haven't read Tyler in years, too! I thought I was the only one missing out :)