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Saint Maybe [NOOK Book]

Overview

Saint Maybe is the rich and absorbing story of a young man's guilt over his brother's death and his struggle to atone for the wrong he feels he has done.

On a quiet street in Baltimore in 1965, seventeen-year-old Ian Bedloe lives with his family in an "ideal, apple-pie household," enjoying the comfort of family traditions and indulging in all the usual dreams of the future. ...
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Saint Maybe

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Overview

Saint Maybe is the rich and absorbing story of a young man's guilt over his brother's death and his struggle to atone for the wrong he feels he has done.

On a quiet street in Baltimore in 1965, seventeen-year-old Ian Bedloe lives with his family in an "ideal, apple-pie household," enjoying the comfort of family traditions and indulging in all the usual dreams of the future. Until one night, when Ian's stinging words to his brother bring tragedy -- and from that careless moment on nothing can ever be the same.

Anne Tyler takes us along Ian's painful and poignant quest for forgiveness, from the Church of the Second Chance to Ian's gratifying, solitary work as a carpenter. Raising the three children that are thrust on him, he finds himself amazed, drowning in family and duty. Then, out of the very heart of the domestic clutter, a light begins to flash.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although Tyler (Breathing Lessons ; Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant ) is again writing about families--the way they cleave together in times of trouble and muddle through with stoic courage--her eminently satisfying new novel breaks her familiar mold, giving us ordinary, not eccentric characters who are shaped by disastrous events into quietly heroic behavior. The Bedloes are cheerful and count their blessings, even if they are far from rich and live on a slightly seedy street in Baltimore. But when 17-year-old Ian rashly informs his older brother Dan that the latter's wife was undoubtedly pregnant before their marriage, Dan commits suicide, and Ian is left with profound guilt--especially since Dan's wife dies soon after. Asking God's forgiveness, he receives spiritual guidance at the endearingly shabby Church of the Second Chance. He drops out of college, becomes a carpenter and helps his parents care for the three orphaned children; as the years pass, that burden falls primarily on Ian's shoulders. Wondering when God will signal that his atonement can end, Ian has an epiphany: ``You could never call it a penance, to have to care for those three.''...Since her characters' foibles never overwhelm their homespun simplicity, the reader is emotionally involved and touched as never before.
School Library Journal
All is well with the Bedloe's Baltimore family until Danny, the eldest son, announces his engagement to Lucy, a woman he has known for only two weeks and who is the mother of two small children, Agatha and Thomas. Their own daughter, Daphne, is born sooner than expected that same year. The suicides of first Danny and then Lucy are unexplained, and all but destroy the Bedloe family. While only a college freshman, Ian, Danny's younger brother, returns home to raise the orphaned children and to search for his own salvation through the Church of the Second Chance. Tyler's remarkable novel pulls at the heart strings and jogs the memories of forgotten youth. Ian's story is neither action packed nor fast moving, but each page will be eagerly anticipated. While the majority of YA readers lack enough life experiences to appreciate the pure joy of Tyler's descriptions and thoughts, not to steer them in her direction would be a shame. --Katherine Fitch, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke, VA
Washington Post Book World
Captivating . . . . Compelling . . . . There is a kind of magic at work in this novel.
Kirkus Reviews
Many of Tyler's principals, introverted, removed, plod around the perimeters of self like patient dray horses, so it's no surprise that her saint here—a Baltimore teen convinced that he caused not only his brother's death but the dire consequences that followed shortly after—is a deliberate and careful saint, laboring conscientiously on the narrow, plainly marked path of a fundamentalist Christian church toward expiation. One terrible night, Ian Bedloe, 19, third child of cheerful Bee and agreeable Doug (one of those Tyler men who say, "Well, now"), blurts out to brother Danny his suspicions about Danny's wife—bright-lipsticked, tiny-faced Lucy, mother of two by a divorced husband and of an infant (by Danny?). Danny, slightly drunk, drives off into a fatal accident; months later, sad and scatty Lucy dies also—after what was probably an accidental dose of sleeping pills. Clubbed by the horror of unbearable guilt, Ian is drawn to the storefront Church of the Second Chance, presided over by Reverend Emmett, undoubtedly God's agent—bony, magisterial, discovered later to be affectionately capricious. Reverend Emmett lays out the Way: forget college, provide for and rescue aging parents from the care of Lucy's kids (ages six, three, and baby) and "set things right." Ian "saw that he was beginning from scratch...as low as he could get." Years pass; Ian works as a carpenter leading a life of celibacy and service; kids mature and shape up. Where is that reward? Ian is ripe for a Sign. It comes, of course—as do love and a second chance. As always, Tyler's people—from powerless small children (whose "every waking minute was scary") to the electric, poignantLucy to the crackly little church group—are as intensely real and yet ultimately unknowable as those who somehow have changed one's life. Less accessible than some of Tyler's others, but on its own terms, perfection.
From the Publisher
"Anne Tyler, who is blessedly prolific and graced with an effortless-seeming talent at describing whole rafts of intricately individualized people, might be described as a domestic novelist, one of that great line descending from Jane Austen...Her eye is kindly, wise and versatile (an eye that you would want on your jury if you ever had to stand trial), and after going at each new set of characters with authorial eagerness and an exuberant tumble of details, she tends to arrive at a set of conclusions about them that is a sort of golden mean."

-- Edward Hoagland, The New York Times

"With her extraordinary talents Anne Tyler can crush the heart with the hopelessness of life on one page and lift it with love and humor on the next. Now, in her eleventh novel, Breathing Lessons, she explores in one Baltimore marriage the resilient spirit that rescues us from moments of despair."

-- Lee Lescaze, The Wall Street Journal

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307784568
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/26/2011
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 172,071
  • File size: 545 KB

Meet the Author

Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and is the author of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize -- winning Breathing Lessons. Saint Maybe is her twelfth novel. She lives with her husband in Baltimore, Maryland.


From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Anne Tyler has had a very active imagination all her life. When she was a young girl, she would spend an hour or two after being put to bed every night fantasizing that she was a doctor. She imagined conversations with patients, and pictured their lives as she did so, considering both their illnesses and the intricacies of their backgrounds. She constructed little mental plays around these characters that she would whisper to herself in the dark -- much to the chagrin of her brother, with whom she shared a room. "[H]e used to call out to our parents, ‘Anne's whispering again!'" she once told Barnes & Noble.com. As much as she may have vexed her brother, she also believes that these fantasies helped her to develop into the beloved, award-winning novelist she is today.

Tyler's work is characterized by a meticulous attention to detail, a genuine love of her characters, and a quirky sense of humor. Her public persona is characterized by its own quirks, as well. She refuses to grant face-to-face interviews. She has never publicly read from any of her books. She does not do book signings or tours. All of this has lent a certain mystique to her novels, although Tyler has said that her reluctance to become a public figure status is actually the result of simple shyness, not to mention her desire for her writing to speak for itself. Fortunately, Anne Tyler's work speaks with a clear, fully-realized voice that does not require unnecessary elucidation by the writer.

Tyler published her first novel If Morning Ever Comes in 1964, and that singular voice was already in place. This astute debut that tracks the self-realization of a young man named Ben Joe Hawkins displayed Tyler's characteristic wit and gentle eccentricity right off the bat. Harper's declared the novel "a triumph," and Tyler was on her way to creating an impressive catalog of novels chronicling the every day hopes, fears, dreams, failures, and victories of small-town Americans. Having come of age, herself, in rural North Carolina, Tyler had particular insight into the lives of her characters. Each novel was a little shimmering gem, winning her a devoted following and public accolades that more than compensated for her refusal to appear in public. Her novel Earthly Possessions, the story of a housewife who is taken hostage by a young man during a bank robbery, was released the same year she won an award for "literary excellence and promise of important work to come" from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The book also went on to become a television movie starring Susan Sarandon and Stephen Dorff in 1999.

However, the most well-known adaptation of one of Tyler's novels arrived more than a decade earlier when The Accidental Tourist was made into an Academy Award winning film starring Geena Davis and William Hurt. Consequently, The Accidental Tourist is viewed by some as Tyler's signature novel, covering many of the writer's favorite themes: the push and pull of marriage, the appearance of a romantic eccentric, personal tragedy, and the quest to escape from the drudgery of routine. The Accidental Tourist won the National Book Critics Circle Award and hit number one on The New York Times Bestseller list.

Three years later, Tyler received the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons, which further explored themes of marriage and self-examination. Despite having won the prestigious Pulitzer, Tyler still refused to allow herself to be drawn into the spotlight. Quietly, contemplatively, she chose to continue publishing a sequence of uniformly fine novels, including Saint Maybe, Ladder of Years, and The Amateur Marriage.

Anne Tyler's novel Digging to America reexamines many of her chief obsessions, while also possibly drawing upon a personal triumph -- her marriage to Iranian psychiatrist and novelist Taghi Mohammad Modarressi -- and the tragedy of his death in 1997. Digging to America follows the relationship between two families, the Iranian Yazdans and the all-American Donaldsons, as they become closer and closer and affect each other deeper and deeper over a succession of years. Digging to America is arguably Tyler's deepest and most profound work to date. It also delivers more of her peculiar brand of humor, which will surely please her longtime fans, thrilled that she continues spinning tales with the trademark attention to character that has distinguished her stories ever since she was a little girl, whispering to herself in the dark. Tyler may have decided to remain in the dark and out of the public eye, but the stories she has to tell have shed more than their share of light on the lives of her readers.

Good To Know

Tyler first began writing stories at the innocent age of seven. At the time, most of her yarns involved, as she has said, "lucky, lucky girls who got to go west in covered wagons."

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    1. Hometown:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 25, 1941
    2. Place of Birth:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      B.A., Duke University, 1961

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2000

    Saints, Sinners, and The All American Family

    Anne Tyler's novel Saint Maybe was very well written. It is one of those books that I just couldn't put down and that any reader could almost always learn something from. I thought the most effective part of the story was Tyler's use of her character Ian, whom she follows through each step in his life and shows exactly how the tragedies in his life changed his outlook. Tyler made him do soul searching, and at the end of the book after showing him working through his problems, she shows his growth and the product of his effort to forgive himself for the tragedies that he endured. The children in this story were also a key part of the story, I liked them, because I felt like they were written with a lot of realistic traits. Unlike a lot of books Tyler seemed to give these children respect even though they weren't quite adults. She treated them like equals on the same level as the other characters in the novel. I also was able to relate to the beginning of the story because of the way Tyler created the picture of an apple pie All-American family. I was really drawn into Saint Maybe because all the elements of a great book were there: an interesting plot, multi dimensional characters, and an easy to relate to theme.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2002

    THIS IS THE BEST BOOK

    I am a high schooler were this book was given as an assignment and I go without saying this is the best book i have read in a long time. It reads so well mixing humor and life together. It tells of a real story that can happen to anyone and of the obstacles we all face at some point in our life. If you want to read a true life book you have to read this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great read, but heart wrenching

    Saint Maybe; The author is Anne Tyler and she is a little quirky, not wrong but somewhat different. Her writing here reflects an extremely bright mind with the ability to take a simple premise and develop a story with depth and character.
    The story opens with Ian Bledsoe, a 19 year old boy who is about ready to start college, Ian’s brother Danny who is going to get married soon to women he just met, a mother who believes everything is just wonderful, and a father who is more utilitarian than accepted as a part of the family. The writer then takes us thru the next 25 years of this family’s life and the sorrow of one man, Ian, lives in.
    The book develops how people change our lives, some for the better, some with pain, but very little personal joy is conveyed to one another.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 27, 2012

    Thank goodness it was a freebie

    IMHO I wouldn't spend the money to purchase this book. Even if I start a book I'll finish it hopeing it will get better. In this case it didn't

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2002

    Great book!

    This is an extraordianary book! Anne Tyler is a great writer and I highly recommed it to other readers and other fans of this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2002

    Spectacular!!!!

    Everyone should read this book at least once in their lifetime!!! Its amazing!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2002

    Adoring and Worthwhile---BEAUTIFUL!!!

    This is such a beautiful book, and is one of my all time favorite of Tylers' work. It is written in that same Tylers' style (funny, witty, and down to earth), and I think (this novel) has more heart than her others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    Absolutely Amazing

    I think this book is absolutely amazing. The way Anne Tyler writes is ingeneous. She touched me with her book, and at some points I even cried. There are no words to explain what I felt while reading this.....Great work Anne!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2001

    The price of an angry moment

    Ian Bedloe, angry at an irresponsible sister-in-law, mistakenly tells his brother that his wife has been unfaithful, driving the brother to a suicidal car wreck, leading to the suicide of his sister-in-law. At the Church of the Second Chance he learns that he must abandon his promising career at the university and a compliant girlfriend to undergo the penance of raising the brother's children. His salvation comes from a vigorous young woman whose profession is helping people rid their homes--and, as it turns out, lives--of junk. But he does not achieve this grace until he has secured the children in their future. We learn that we do not walk away from things.

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    Posted January 13, 2009

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    Posted October 30, 2008

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    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted October 28, 2008

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    Posted June 10, 2012

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