Our book club just read Ann Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye which everyone liked. Her books are usually popular with book clubs. While researching the author, a news story noted that her husband was an Iranian psychiatrist and had died in 1997. It sounded like he had been the great love of her life and as a tribute she wrote the 2006 storyDigging to America. This seemed intriguing although when the book first came out it was not that popular with our patrons.
Random House has this to say about the book: “Two families, who would otherwise never have come together, meet by chance at the Baltimore airport-the Donaldsons, a very American couple, and the Yazdans, Maryam’s fully assimilated son and his attractive Iranian wife. Each couple is awaiting the arrival of an adopted infant daughter from Korea. After the instant babies from distant Asia are delivered, Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate: an “arrival party” that from then on is repeated every year as the two families become more and more deeply intertwined. Even Maryam is drawn in – up to a point. when she finds herself being courted by Bitsy Donaldson’s recently widowed father, all the values she cherishes – her traditions, her privacy, her otherness – are suddenly threatened.”
The audio version is a wonderful surprise. Read by actress Blair Brown, it feels as if friends are speaking to you about their lives. As Random House says, this truly is a “luminous novel brimming with subtle, funny and tender observations that immerse us in the challenges of both sides of the American story”. The characters, especially Maryam and Bitsy, stay with you long after the last disc has played.