patchwork-feature

On Our Bookshelves:
A Patchwork Planet

NOVEL: A Patchwork Planet

AUTHOR:  Anne Tyler

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1998

REVIEW:

A Patchwork Planet, like most of Anne Tyler’s work, takes place in and around Baltimore.

It tells the story of Barnaby Gaitlin, a young man working a menial dead-end job (carrying things around and doing errands for the elderly and the housebound), divorced, in a strained relationship with his wealthy parents and his nine year old daughter, and who is maybe, just maybe, going to turn his life around when he meets an upstanding woman, who encourages him to go back to school, get a better job, and marry her.

But not so fast…while we get to know Barnaby, his dysfunctional family, and the Rent-A-Back clientele, Tyler makes a humanistic and convincing case that Barnaby’s kindness, hard work, and efforts to repay all his financial and emotional debts make him a better person, despite all his faults, than those who consider him a black sheep.

He does turn his life around, but in a surprising way; he finds happiness when he forgives himself for his past transgressions and when he realizes who trusts him and who deserves his trust.

This novel makes space for, and pays attention to, those who are overlooked or forgotten, a bit odd, who don’t fit in.

Tyler’s compassion for the outsider is contagious, and this reader, at least, finds herself rooting for Barnaby, cheering his successes, and being gently and persuasively reminded of what is and is not important in this life.

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): Three-and-a-half Whistles

HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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ALSO ON OUR BOOKSHELVES:

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith

Envious Casca, Georgette Heyer

Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Heads In Beds, Jacob Tomsky

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

Up At The Villa, W. Somerset Maugham

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Image: Designua/Shutterstock.com

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com