Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anne Tyler - Back When we Were Grownups: A Novel

39. Back When we Were Grownups: A Novel by Anne Tyler (2001)
Length: 284 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Started: 1 July 2010
Finished: 7 July 2010
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 July 2010
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed several books by this author in the past.

Rebecca Davitch is a fifty-three-year-old grandmother who seemingly has everything that she could possibly want in life. Ostensibly, Beck, as she is known within the Davitch clan, is a boisterous extrovert - an outgoing, joyous, natural-born celebrator who really thrives in her role as the family's official life-of-the-party. As a matter of fact, some people might say that giving parties runs in Rebecca's blood, as it became her vocation even before she finished college. Although it was a position that she slipped into naturally, thirty years later Beck has begun to question whether this is the life that she truly wants for herself.

Rebecca was a struggling young college student when she caught the eye of Joseph Davitch at an engagement party in his family's crumbling nineteenth-century Baltimore row house - where giving parties actually was the family business. What initially attracted this older gentleman - a charming, larger-than-life divorc√© with three little girls of his own - to Beck, was that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon Rebecca finds herself being swept into Joe's fascinating orbit and is eagerly accepted into his large and loving family. Before she knows it, she is embracing Joe's extended family as her own and happily raising a blended family; plus a child of their own.

She has also become very involved in the family business; hosting seemingly endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of 'The Open Arms'. However, after presiding over a particularly disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is completely blindsided by the variety of troublesome questions that begin surfacing in her mind in its aftermath. Questions such as whether she is living her own life; or if she has actually become an imposter, capable of living someone else's life, occasionally drift through Rebecca's thoughts.

In an attempt to settle the curious feelings of dissatisfaction that have arisen so suddenly in her life, Rebecca sets out to discover the person that she really is - both her girlhood self, as well as the dignified grownup that she once had been. The story of how Rebecca answers the personal question of who she has become, and what she does to reconcile both of those aspects of her personality, is what forms the basis for this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.

I actually loved this book - the characters really draw you in. If I had one complaint, it would be that it was a little confusing to keep all the characters straight. I give this book an A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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