The Beginner’s Goodbye tells the story of Aaron Woolcott, an editor at his family’s vanity publishing house, Woolcott Publishing. Aaron’s wife, Dorothy, has died in a tragic accident, and the novel begins with a visit from Dorothy. At first, Aaron is tentative, questioning his own sanity. Then, because he misses her so much, he looks forward to her appearances, and doesn’t wish to question her about her visits, fearing she would leave and never come back. Aaron was devoted to Dorothy, and he reflects, “one of the worst things about losing your wife, I found: your wife is the very person you want to discuss it all with” (54).
Aaron’s sister, Nandina, also works at Woolcott, but she is something of a tyrant in the office. She invites Aaron to stay with her while repairs are made to his house. He hires a contractor, gives Gil the keys, and says, fix my house, “Everything. I don’t know. Just take care of it. You decide” (76). Aaron cannot bring himself to go home to the scene of Dorothy’s death.
If you have never read Anne Tyler, Any number of her 18 novels would be a good place to start, but The Beginner’s Goodbye would be a wonderful introduction to this award-winning novelist. 5 stars (565)