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Back When We Were Grownupsby Anne Tyler
Synopses & Reviews
When Joe Davitch first saw Rebecca, it was at a party at the Davitch home — a crumbling 19th century row house in Baltimore where giving parties was the family business. Young Rebecca appeared to Joe as the girl having more fun than anyone in the room and he wanted some of that happiness to spill over onto him, a 33-year-old divorcee with three little girls. Swept away, Rebecca soon found herself mistress of 'The Open Arms', embracing not only just this large spirited man and his extended family but expertly hosting endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms where people paid to have their family celebrations in style. But now, years after she has lost her husband in an automobile accident, Beck (as she is known to the Davitch clan) asks herself whether she has turned into the wrong person. Is she really this natural-born celebrator, joyous and outgoing? Can she always be there for Poppy, her almost 100-year-old uncle-in-law who lives on the top floor, for stepdaughters — Biddy and NoNo and Patch and the husbands, as they come and go, and their children — and for her own daughter MinFoo, about to marry a stockbroker? Can one really recover the person one has left behind? With perfect pitch Anne Tyler explores these questions of love and loss, of identity and of family, making us both laugh and cry in a novel that we wish would never end.
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person." So Anne Tyler opens this irresistible new novel. The woman is Rebecca Davitch, a fifty-three-year-old grandmother. Is she an impostor in her own life? she asks herself. Is it indeed her own life? Or is it someone else's? On the surface, Beck, as she is known to the Davitch clan, is outgoing, joyous, a natural celebrator. Giving parties is, after all, her vocation--something she slipped into even before finishing college, when Joe Davitch spotted her at an engagement party in his family's crumbling nineteenth-century Baltimore row house, where giving parties was the family business. What caught his fancy was that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon this large-spirited older man, a divorce with three little girls, swept her into his orbit, and before she knew it she was embracing his extended family plus a child of their own, and hosting endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of The Open Arms. Now, some thirty years later, after presiding over a disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is caught un-awares by the question of who she really is. How she answers it--how she tries to recover her girlhood self, that dignified grownup she had once been--is the story told in this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.
Beck Davitch looks back on her thirty-year marriage to Joe and her role as a mother and manager of the Open Arms, wondering if she is living the life she was meant to live and reconsidering her dedication to the family business. 250,000 first printing.
About the Author
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. This is Anne Tyler’s fifteenth novel;
her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore.
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