“Once upon a time,
there was a woman who discovered that she had turned into the wrong person.” So
Anne Tyler opens this irresistible new novel.
The woman is Rebecca
Davitch, a fifty-three-year-old grandmother. Is she an impostor in her own
life? she asks herself. Is it indeed her own life? Or is it someone else’s?
On the surface,
Beck, as she is known to the Davitch clan, is outgoing, joyous, a natural
celebrator. Giving parties is, after all, her vocation—something she slipped
into even before finishing college, when Joe Davitch spotted her at an
engagement party in his family’s crumbling nineteenth-century Baltimore row
house, where giving parties was the family business. What caught his fancy was
that she seemed to be having such a wonderful time. Soon this large-spirited
older man, a divorcé with three little girls, swept her into his orbit, and before
she knew it she was embracing his extended family plus a child of their own,
and hosting endless parties in the ornate, high-ceilinged rooms of The Open
Now, some thirty
years later, after presiding over a disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is caught
unawares by the question of who she really is. How she answers it—how she tries
to recover her girlhood self, that dignified grownup she had once been—is the
story told in this beguiling, funny, and deeply moving novel.
As always with Anne
Tyler’s novels, once we enter her world it is hard to leave. But in Back When We Were Grownups she so
sharpens our perceptions and awakens so many untapped feelings that we come
away not only refreshed and delighted, but also infinitely wiser. Download and start listening now!