Anne Tyler's books

With a writing career that spans over fifty years and with more than twenty novels under her belt – many of them bestsellers and award winners set in her beloved Baltimore – it can be hard to know where to start with Anne Tyler. But when her books come with commendations from writers like Helen Dunmore, Caitlin Moran, Sebastian Faulks, Jacqueline Wilson and Rachel Joyce, you definitely should.

To celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Redhead by the Side of the Road, we’ve created a guide to help you find your perfect place to begin.

For fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Elizabeth Strout or Kate Atkinson...

If you like Maggie O’Farrell, Elizabeth Strout or Kate Atkinson, and brilliantly observed explorations of relationships across generations, why not try:

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Tyler’s 2014 bestseller introduces the Whitshank family, starting with Abby and Red, who met and fell in love one summer’s day in 1959. From Red’s father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in 1920, to their twenty-first century great-grandchildren, we see the lives of four generations of Whitshanks unfold in and around their beloved family home.

 

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

In Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, we meet another Baltimore family, the Tulls. Abandoned by her salesman husband, Pearl Tull was left to bring up her three children alone – diabolical Cody, mostly virtuous Ezra, and fierce, passionate Jenny. Now, Pearl is dying and, slowly but surely, the past and its tightly held secrets begin to be revealed.

 

The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler

This novel, which opens in the 1940s, follows a couple as they navigate a long life together after a very short introduction. Michael and Pauline seemed perfect for each other. As soon as Pauline walked into his mother's grocery store, Michael fell head over heels. They married quickly, spurred on by the escalation of World War II. From this hasty beginning, we watch them pass through the decades together, and the consequences of their very mismatched marriage.

 

Back When We Were Grown-Ups by Anne Tyler

One morning, Rebecca wakes up and realises she’s not the person she expected to be. Is she really this joyous and outgoing organiser of parties, the put-upon heart of her dead husband's extended family? What happened to her quiet and serious nineteen-year-old self, and what would have happened if she'd married her college sweetheart? Back When We Were Grown-Ups follows Rebecca as she interrogates the ties that have bound her into a new family, and decides whether the life she has is the one she wants.

 

For fans of Joanna Trollope, Rachel Joyce or Joanna Cannon...

If you’re a reader of Joanna Trollope, Rachel Joyce or Joanna Cannon, and of books about how we discover and come to terms with our true selves, you could start with:

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler

Cordelia Grinstead has had enough. On a warm summer’s day at the beach, dressed only in a swimsuit and beach robe, she walks away from her family and just keeps on going. Cordelia hitches a ride to a new town where she knows no one and reinvents herself as a single woman with no ties. Cordelia has given herself a clean slate, but it’s not long until hints of her old life begin to creep back in. How long can her fresh start last before she returns to reality?

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

The defining moments in the life of Willa Drake have set her on a path laid out by others. So when she answers a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot, Willa drops everything and flies across the country. That spur-of-the moment decision to look after this woman and her nine-year-old daughter leads Willa into uncharted territory for what feels like the first time, and to the realisation that it’s never too late to choose your own path.

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Maggie Moran is nearly fifty and married with two children. One hot summer’s day, she and her husband drive from Baltimore to Deer Lick to attend the funeral of a friend. The journey takes them on several unexpected detours into the lives of old friends and grown children, and proves a serious test of Maggie’s eternal optimism, as well as her inexhaustible passion for sorting out the lives and loves of other people. Anne Tyler was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Breathing Lessons, in 1989.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler

Friday August 15th, 1997. Two tiny Korean babies are delivered to two very different families. Every year, on the anniversary of ‘Arrival Day’ the two families celebrate together, with more and more elaborately competitive parties, as little Susan and Jin-ho take roots and become American. Digging to America is a perceptive and subtle novel about the challenges of growing up, and balancing your own identity with the desires and dreams of your family.

If you’re a fan of Marian Keyes, Nick Hornby or David Nicholls, and love to discover quirky characters and unexpected situations, you’ll enjoy:

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler’s newest novel is a glimpse into the heart and mind of a man who sometimes finds those around him just out of reach – and a love story about the differences that make us all unique. Micah Mortimer isn’t the most polished person, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. He is content with the steady balance of his existence until life takes some unexpected turns. When his partner Cassia tells him she’s facing eviction because of a cat and a teenager arrives at his door claiming to be his son, Micah must draw on all his reserves to handle the surprises and deal with the changes.

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

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, and 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…

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

How does a man addicted to routine – a man who flosses his teeth before love-making – cope with the chaos of everyday life? With the loss of his son, the departure of his wife and the arrival of Muriel, a dog trainer from the Meow-Bow dog clinic, Macon's attempts at ordinary life are tragically and comically undone.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler’s brilliant retelling of The Taming of the Shrew asks whether a thoroughly modern woman would ever sacrifice herself for a man. The answer is as surprising as Kate Battista herself. At the start of the novel, Kate is stuck, managing house and home for her eccentric scientist father and infuriating younger sister. Meanwhile, her father’s brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported, and without Pyotr, his new scientific breakthrough will fall through… Dr Battista’s outrageous plan to keep Pyotr in the country relies on Kate to help. Will Kate be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to win her round?

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