Noah's Commpass

Noah's Compass

by Ann Tyler

Gail Reid (07/01/12): A book with "compass" in the title is surely something that deals with direction in one way or another. Sixty-year-old Liam Pennywell, a philosophy-trained teacher in a private grade school, has just been downsized out of his job. When he moves to a smaller apartment to cut costs, he is attacked by an intruder on his first night. The noise attracted the police and Liam is shipped off to the hospital where he recovers quickly except for no recollection of the attack. He cannot recall the episode at all. Liam's ex-wife, and 3 daughters from 2 marriages, and an overbearing sister all hover over him but only briefly. They find his unassuming and emotionally passive style to be directionless.

When Liam encounters a young woman, Eunice, who works as a "rememberer" he gravitates to her in the hope that she can help him remember what happened. Something altogether different results and a relationship blooms and fades but not without Liam finding a new direction in his life.

With typically quirky Anne Tyler characters, this book is like many of her others. However, the dialog is always fresh and the insights are always revealing.
Rating: ****

Arlene Almas: Liam Pennywell, age 60, trained in philosophy, has just been laid off as a fifth grade teacher. On the first night of his move to a small apartment, he is attacked by an intruder and loses consciousness, but has no memory of the event. He meets Eunice, an assistant to a wealthy elderly businessman, whom Liam calls a "rememberer." Liam hires Eunice as his "rememberer," too; she is extremely awkward and eccentrically dressed, but Liam finds her endearing and a personal relationship slowly builds between the two. Liam, who is very closed in and set in his ways, seems to loosen up. His relationships with his ex-wife, daughters, and grandson become closer and more free as well. This is a sensitively written story of a man in transition. Rating: ****

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