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About the book
  • Published: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099539582
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $19.99
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Noah's Compass


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Quintessential Tyler but full of surprises - a perfectly pitched, enchanting and affecting novel about a man adrift in his own life, Noah's Compass chimes subtly, heartbreakingly with our times.

With the humour and poignancy of her classic The Accidental Tourist (though with a protagonist who doesn't venture far from home) Anne Tyler's new novel tells the story of a year in the life of Liam Pennywell, a man in his sixty-first year. A classical pedant, he's just been ‘let go’ from his schoolteaching job and downsizes to a tiny out-of-town apartment, where he goes to bed early and alone on his first night.

Widowed, re-married, divorced and the father of three daughters, Liam is a man who is proud of his recall but has learned to dodge issues and skirt adventure. An unpleasant event occurs, though, to jolt him out of his certainty. Obsessed with a frightening gap in his memory, he sets out to uncover what happened, and finds instead an unusual woman with secrets of her own, and a late-flowering love that brings its own thorny problems. His ex-wife (sensible Barbara) and daughters worry about him but Liam blunders on. His teenage daughter Kitty is sent to stay - though it’s not clear who is minding whom. His middle daughter, Louise, is a born-again Christian with a son called Jonah, but her certainties leave Liam still more perplexed.

Noah’s Compass is about memory and its loss, about incidents and relationships which open up sight lines into a painful past long dead for a man who becomes aware that merely trying to stay afloat may not be enough.

  • Pub date: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9780099539582
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her bestselling novels include Breathing Lessons, The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Ladder of Years, Back When We Were Grownups, A Patchwork Planet, The Amateur Marriage, Digging to America, A Spool of Blue Thread and Vinegar Girl.

In 1989 she won the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons; in 1994 she was nominated by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby as 'the greatest novelist writing in English'; in 2012 she received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence; and in 2015 A Spool of Blue Thread was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Man Booker Prize.

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Praise for Noah's Compass

“As exquisitely observed and quietly brilliant as the rest of Tyler's fiction”

Joanna Briscoe, Guardian

“Anne Tyler draws a comedy that is not so much brilliant as luminous - its observant sharpness sweetened by a generous understanding of human fallibility”

Jane Shilling, Daily Telegraph

“Noah's Compass is immensely readable. It displays many of Tyler's finest qualities: her sharp observation of humanity, her wry comedy; the luminous accuracy of her descriptions... a novel by Anne Tyler is cause for celebration”

Caroline Moore, Sunday Telegraph

“Anne Tyler is a novelist who has elevated pitch-perfect observation of everyday detail into an art form... a beautifully subtle book, an elegant contemplation of what it means to be happy and the consequences of a defensive withdrawal from other people”

Elizabeth Day, Observer

“One of my favourite authors, one of the very few I rush out to buy in hardback.”

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

“A brilliant writer... Funny, wise, tragic.”

Lynne Truss, Independent

“Tyler brings a scorching wisdom, an understanding of what breaks the human spirit, and the ways in which people try to paper the cracks...Limpidly, singingly written, with dialogue to break a scriptwriter's heart”

Rosemary Goring, The Sunday Herald

“Prose is as bright and pretty as in her best work. The dialogue crackles and there are insightful observations about the way families create stories to explain themselves”

John Oâ??Connell, The Times

“Her novels have a grace and an emotional depth that few romances can match”

Nick Rennison, Sunday Times

“Compassionate and funny dissection of the workings of the human heart”

Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

“Sharply funny, and tenderly wise”

Eithne Farry, Marie Claire

“Has behind its scenes a darkness from which the author doesn't flinch, but nor does she dwell on it either...And it does read like a novel with purpose; certainly, it's about a man who wonders if there's any point to him. It's quite a trick to encompass meandering and meaninglessness without meandering meaninglessly, and Tyler brings it off with hints, gestures and elegant cadences”

Tom Payne, Telegraph

“A prize of a novel, readable yet with a mood of autumnal sadness liable to sit on the reader's chest for some time after the book is finished...Tyler has her own internal compass and knows just where to steer her narrative arc”

Colin Waters, The Herald

“Tyler's deft hand at human comedy keeps you entertained the whole time”

Claire Harman, Evening Standard

“Wonderfully imagined exploration of memory, loss, and relationships, and how we look at our pasts”

Paul Blezard, The Lady

“Her sterling talent for composing an enthralling story, skilfully paced and enlivened by more than one startling, but eminently satisfying, plot twist, is on display here'”

Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Irish Times

“Sensitively drawn characters”

Clare Longrigg, Psychologies

“This is her 17th novel, and it has the smoothness and simplicity of a skilled craftsman at work”

Daniel Swift

“As always with Tyler, the prose flows sweetly from page to page, conjuring up characters so believable you want to thump them”

Nina Caplan, Time Out

“Written with such heart and humour you'll ration the pages in the hope that it will never end”

Kerry Fowler, Good Housekeeping

“Another heartfelt, evocative novel from Tyler”

Viv Groskop, RED

“Anne Tyler is always good value, and this novel, replete with subtle ironies, is characteristic of her lucid style.”

Max Davidson, Mail on Sunday

“Has the surer touch than almost all of the twice as famous among the American novelists of her generation”

Karl Miller, Times Literary Supplement

“Tyler has composed a four-act drama in the form of a novel. There is nothing extraneous and nothing overly dramatic here, and in that lies her very considerable strength as a writer”

Isobel Montgomery, Guardian

“Tyler writes in such prodigious prose it seems effortless. This is life without the special effects, in all its mundane and infinitely fascinating detail”

Holly Kyte, Telegraph

“Anne Tyler has elevated the observation of everyday detail into an art form'. 'a beautifully subtle book, an elegant contemplation of what it means to be happy.”

Elizabeth Day, Observer

“Reading Tyler's novels often feels like slipping into favourite pyjamas: her 18th is just as comfortable and comforting. Combining a light-hearted David Lodge-like meditation on old age with the domestic dysfunction of a soap set in Middle American, her simple, nuanced prose reveals some lovely twists.”

Laura Silverman, Daily Mail

“·Tyler brilliantly anatomises everyday life... Her novels have emotional depth and engaging with her characters is a pleasure”

The Sunday Times


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