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Summary

Quintessential Tyler, yet full of surprises - a perfectly pitched, enchanting, and affecting novel about a man adrift in his own life, Noah's Compass chimes gently, 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 61st 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.

©2009 Anne Tyler (P)2010 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Noah’s Compass

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant family drama

LOVED this. Fabulous narration. Funny, moving & thought provoking , almost philosophical. Highly recommended if you are a fan of Anne Tyler or enjoy family dramas with all the problems, politics , pain and joys they bring.
An interesting look at ageing, and reflection on one's life.
Made me laugh out loud and also made me cry.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Couldn't quite link the title to the content!

What did you like best about Noah's Compass? What did you like least?

I liked the intricacies of the relationships and the views back to their past. I felt the book was very slow to get going and there seemed to be no climax to the story - a bit of a plodder!

What other book might you compare Noah's Compass to, and why?

Not sure

What does Arthur Morey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I'm not sure I would have continued to read the whole book whereby listening to Arthur Morey read it made it far more interesting and appealing

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Probably - just to see how it was portrayed

1 person found this helpful

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Gentle listening about an ordinary life

I enjoyed this book read in a gentle soothing voice by Arthur Morley who was able to bring all the characters to life, particularly Liam. It was easy to feel slightly sorry for Liam with his unspectacular life & yet at the same time appreciate how & why he lived as he did. The narrative deftly allowed the reader to not only understand but also identify with his character & his reasons for acting in a particular way. His life may lack dynamism but his philosophy endeared him to me. A simple way of life does have it’s own attraction & left to his own devices, Liam now age 61 could be quite content in his own skin & reasonably satisfied with where he was in time & place. He was as accepting of others’ right to live their lives as they saw fit as he was of where the choices he’d made had got him.
As ever Anne Tyler makes her character come alive & it has been a pleasure spending time in this man’s shoes.

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Disappointing

Not her best. Although the narration was good, I kept falling asleep because the story, or lack of it, did not command my attention.

1 person found this helpful