by Shirley Mitchell in Paris, France - courtesy of www.AwesomeBooks.com
A young man is the central character of this book. We gradually learn about his past, his present, his good points and his bad points. We see him in the context of his job, his family, his love affairs. We live and breathe his home, his car, his diet. But the bonus is – we also meet his clients, some of the bewitchingly eccentric oldies of Baltimore. We meet them in their scatty senior existence but their entire lives are cameoed as we return to their homes with each chapter. Being an oldie myself I so wanted my own Barnaby – to clear out the attic, to shift heavy furniture, to take me to the Garden centre to buy heavy a bags of compost, to listen to my woes. He works for Rent-a-Back. And, as I would expect from Anne Tyler, the business too is run by lovably offbeat people.
A first person narrative – and my, how his voice comes through – as in Adrian Mole’s whine, Barbaby’s laid back drawl paints a crystal clear picture of his appearance, his facial expressions, his individual attire. But we eventually see Barnaby through the eyes of his mother, his daughter, his grandfather and his girlfriends. His delinquent boyhood is shocking and yet his telling of it could not alienate me. There was pathos in it and frustration and a slanted view of life which he persuaded me into understanding.
His current love affair, in which we are involved from the first sentence, is bizarre and has a very unexpected outcome. Sophie is the exact opposite of Barnaby – a bank clerk, respectably dressed, impeccably mannered – but who is the more moral of the couple?
Thanks to Shirley for a great review, one which had everyone in ‘Awesome Towers’ itching to pickup a copy and get reading. Let Shirley know what you think…