The Beginner's Goodbye
I guess that it's natural that as the author ages, her themes, which have always confronted us with the vagaries of the human condition, usually in a rueful yet sympathetic way, should turn to be big one: death, and in this case, the loss of one's partner. We've seen her characters go from being young marrieds to disillusioned housewives, and – oh, yes, there was death before, and that was a big one too, in being the death of a child, but concerned the effect on a couple's relationship. And even in this book, it's an unexpected loss, a freak accident, rather than the erosion of time and the natural course of events. However, I do think that Tyler is looking seriously at human mortality. I think her exploration of Aaron's reaction was well done, but as ever, her characters are so quirky that they are almost cartoon-like, in a sad sort of way. However, she writes in a manner that we could empathise with Aaron's isolation and his need to review his entire relationship, but the resolution of the novel was just too slick, and too obvious, I felt. It was steaming through the book like an ocean liner overtaking a pilot boat. Overall, although I was engaged by this book, I felt it was half-baked, like the eponymous products of publishing firm Aaron worked in.