*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Clock Dance
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher: Bond Street Books
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother, yet the prospect is dimming. So, when Willa receives a phone call from a stranger, telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot, she drops everything and flies across the country to Baltimore. The impulsive decision to look after this woman and her nine-year-old daughter will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbours, plunged into the rituals that make a community a family, and forced to find solace in unexpected places.
I remember reading Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread a few years ago and although I enjoyed it, I wasn’t totally wow-ed by it. However, my experience reading Clock Dance was totally different. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, from beautiful front cover to the intricate and sometimes heart-breaking story within. This is the story of Willa Drake, from her young life, well into her older age. Willa’s life is full of intense and profound moments, but through it all she is a calm and steady force. Willa’s relationships often seem tenuous though, which makes me question how steady she really is.
Even after reading this book I really feel as though I don’t know Willa very well. I feel like there’s so much of her life missing, however I feel like we’re meant to get the sense that she spent her life living for others. First her sister, then her husband, her sons, and then her second husband. This book takes us through her quiet moments of self-discovery as an unorthodox situation leads her to make a life-altering decision for herself. Willa’s transformation is so quiet and steady–it’s hardly noticeable. It doesn’t come without loss, but late into her life, she’s experienced so much love and loss, that at this point, the change is welcome to her. This story leaves the reader with a sense of hope, knowing that Willa is taking this moment for herself to do something that truly fulfills her and brings her joy.
Willa is a full and robust character in the moments of her life that we, the readers, get to witness. She is full of so much caring and empathy, it comes to a fault. She can often neglect relationships that have been important to her in favour of something or someone that she feels is of greater need. It may be viewed as selfishness, tied up in selflessness. Willa can only give so much of herself and she must pick and choose where that effort goes. She chooses to focus her efforts in the places and people that bring her more reward, but in doing so, she takes charge of her life. I think a little selfishness is necessary for her to grow and to understand herself. It enables her to experience a transformation after a life of giving.
In the end, I found this book to be really beautiful. It’s a story that is seemingly simply, but the relationships, the characters, and the dialogue are so intricate and so realistic. Tyler writes life so elegantly. Her novel speaks to human nature and behaviour, thus her characters and her story as so relatable and accessible. This book was so easy to read and it has so much to offer. I hope you enjoy!