I’m a big fan of Anne Tyler but I haven’t enjoyed her novels so much in recent years. However, Noah’s Compass is a real return to form. It’s central character, Liam, reminiscent of Macon in The Accidental Tourist, is a sixty-one year old man who is bobbing along on the current of his own life, simply trying to stay afloat, when he is knocked unconscious by an intruder and wakes up in a hospital suffering from amnesia.
His obsessional urge to recover his memory of the event leads him to get involved with a woman he notices in a neurologist’s clinic. Their quirky love affair forces him to reassess himself and his relationships with his three daughters and ex-wife.
Anne Tyler writes with her usual consummate ease, letting the characters create themselves from apparently haphazard details, allowing underlying meaning to appear almost organically. Subtle, amusing and resonant, this is a beautifully observed study of isolation and the nature of happiness.