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This is a nice book – not ground breaking, not life changing, just nice. The main character is Barnaby Gaitlin, a 30 year old man who is divorced, has a tentative relationship with his nine year old daughter (the problem being that he doesn’t really know her, or have the opportunity to really get to know her). In his youth he got into trouble for burglary, causing his parents much embarrassment, and he now has an unskilled job which is another source of embarrassment for his mother (what she fails to realise is the good that he does in his job – he works at ‘Rent a Back’, a company that hires people out to mainly pensioners, to do any work around the house and garden which they themselves are unable to do). All this has led to Barnaby being the black sheep of the affluent Gaitlin family.

His mother in particular is an unsympathetic and dislikeable character. However, when Barnaby meets Sophia, his life starts to change for the better, and he begins to turn things around.

The truth is that not a lot actually happens in this book – the storyline clearly takes second place to the characters, who are all very well fleshed out and extremely well developed.  It was impossible not to care about Barnaby, and not to hope for a happy ending for him…as for whether he gets his happy ending – I’m not telling you!  But I would recommend reading the book to find out!

This is the first book by Anne Tyler which I have ever read, but I have a few more of hers on my to-be-read pile, which I look forward to reading.

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