contemporary, Ficton, literary fiction

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Chatto Windus
Find it on Goodreads here.

In a golf community in Arizona surrounded by tall alien-like saguaro cacti is Willa. She and her husband recently moved so he could “retire” if that’s what you call looking at your email four times a day instead of ten. Willa is there with no other immediate family or friends and is feeling a bit lost.

As Willa stares out over the golf course, she briefly reflects on her childhood. An unstable mother and a broken relationship with her younger sister made things tough growing up. The only one she seemed to get along with was her father who passed away years ago.

“Peter sometimes claimed – jokingly, she assumed – that the whole country should keep its clocks set to the same hour, even though that meant that some states would have to conduct their business in the dark.”

A phone call from an unknown Baltimore number brings Willa back to the present. Within hours, Willa and her husband are set to fly across the country to take care of a woman they barely know. Willa gets the chance to step into the role of a mother with the addition of a grandkid she always wanted. But getting what Willa wants, could cost her what she already has.

My Thoughts

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I am sort of conflicted about rating Clock Dance. It was a little slow yet read quickly. It was well-written with lots of detail, but some detail that didn’t really belong. The piece about the mom at the beginning built it up in my mind that this is going to be what causes her to act the way she does as an adult. I didn’t see how the mom’s erratic behavior changed Willa at all. Willa was any old mom, one who wants a relationship with her kids and for them to one day start families of their own. 

The next part about her and her fiance flying was odd too. Again, I had the whole plane scene built up in my mind and then the story subsided. All it did was reiterate why she doesn’t like to fly later on in the book and what a big step it is for her to do so in order to help a stranger.

Finally, you get to the end where you are curious where life will take Willa next. Is it back to Peter in Arizona? Or will she stay in Baltimore? Instead, I felt like I never got an answer from Tyler and no definitive ending for Clock Dance.

I think the main reason I didn’t LOVE Clock Dance was that it was a bit matronly for me. I could see someone who is retired or a grandparent enjoying this story as they could probably relate better to Willa than I could.

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