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Earthly Possessions Hardcover – March 12, 1977

4.1 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"My favourite writer, and the best line-and-length novelist in the world, is Anne Tyler... Brilliant, funny, sad and sensitive" -- Nick Hornby Independent on Sunday "Funny and moving" The Times "A skilful novel by a writer in full flight from the obvious" Observer "Wickedly good" -- John Updike --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

"To read a novel by Anne Tyler is to fall in love."
PEOPLE
Charlotte Emory has always lived a quiet, conventional life in Clarion, Maryland. She lives as simply as possible, and one day decides to simplify everything and leave her husband. Her last trip to the bank throws Charlotte's life into an entirely different direction when a restless young man in a nylon jacket takes her hostage during the robbery--and soon the two are heading south into an unknown future, and a most unexpected fate....

"From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (March 12, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394411471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394411477
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her 17th novel. Her 11th, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Several years ago I read my first Anne Tyler book, Ladder of Years, and became a devoted fan of this author's books. Catching up on some earlier titles,I have just finished another one of her books, Earthly Possessions. And once again this author has captivated me and tugged at my heartstrings.
Earthly Possessions focuses on two of Tyler's most endearing characters, Charlotte Emory and Jake. Charlotte is at a bank one day when Jake bungles a robbery. Holding Charlotte as his hostage and with 200 $1 bills in his pocket from the robbery, he steals a car and the two set off to find Jake's pregnant girlfriend somewhere in Florida. What may appear as a horrific kidnapping to others in the bank, provides Charolotte with an exciting adventure, once she knows she won't be harmed in anyway. Unfortunately Charlotte has never set foot outside of her small hometown and was at the bank to withdraw her life savings in order to run away from her husband. As Charlotte and Jake travel South, with the police searching for them, Charlotte reflects on her life and earthly posessions till the ending which is thought provoking and poignant.
The end of the book and some other parts are reminiscent of some cental themes which Tyler seems to explore in many of her books. But the author relying on tried and true themes never seems to matter to me when I read Anne Tyler as once again she introduces me to quirky and memorable characters who stay with me long after I've finished the book
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Format: Paperback
Of the many Anne Tyler novels I've read, "Earthly Possessions" is very nearly my favorite. (Ask me next week and I'll point to "Accidental Tourist.") A departure from her character-driven multi-generational household dramas, its dark satire and sinister comedy remind me, in a weird way, of the film "Raising Arizona," with which it shares vague and odd similarities in characters and plot.

In fact, there's more plot in the first few pages than in many of Tyler's other novels. With the very first sentence, Charlotte Emory decides that her "marriage wasn't going well and I decided to leave my husband"; by the second page, she goes to the Maryland Safety Savings Bank to withdraw some cash for her escape--and is taken hostage by Jake, a laughably amateurish bank robber. Since she wants to get out of town anyway, her fear is tempered by a sense of come-what-may compliance.

Even as a Patty Hearst-inspired tale of Stockholm syndrome, the narrative should be wholly implausible ("far-fetched," to use one reader's description). But Tyler is spinning less a work of realism than an allegorical tale of one woman's disenchantment with the trap her life has become. The story alternates between her trip south with Jake and a reminiscence of her marriage, in which she fills her role as a reluctantly dutiful homemaker for an ever-increasing gaggle of her preacher-husband's deadbeat family members. Her husband's admission, "I always did want a place for my brothers to come home to," makes her realize that she will always be a part of his comfortable plan, "house, wife, family, church,"--yet he would never play an equal part in her life. Then, at just the moment when she was looking for adventure, Jake, with his childlike neediness and menacing fickleness, makes life interesting.
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Format: Paperback
This was the first Anne Tyler book I read, and I liked it so much I have gone on to read them all--some, several times.
Tyler really only has one theme: Families--you can't live with them, and you can't escape them.
This book has that theme, and it treats it humorously and sadly and beautifully.
It starts with a bang--a failed bank robbery and hostage situation. This is an unusual scene for Tyler, but it quickly goes back to her usual territory: the maddening minutiae of everyday life.
As always the characters are quirky and fun.
The chapters alternate between the present and the past, so all the elements of the picture gradually come together.
It isn't really a love story; but none of Tyler's books are love stories--unless you count, being in love with being.
To anyone who hasn't tried Tyler, I would recommend this book. It avoids the schmaltziness of "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" and even "Accidental Tourist."
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Format: Paperback
WOW! one of the best books ever written! I have read other anne tyler books and this one is totally my favorite! I would recommend it to anyone that likes a down-to-earth realistic book. It entails few but distinct characters and they all have their strong and weak points. It clearly shows tyler's ability to relate meaningful characters to real-life situations and turmoil!! READ THIS ONE!! YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
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Format: Paperback
In the present, Charlotte is kidnapped, going on a road trip with a kind of pathetic well-intentioned criminal and very little money. She ends up having an almost-friendship with the criminal, who is in a vicious cycle of doing stupid things, having a bad reputation for doing stupid things, and doing more stupid things to try and get away from his reputation. Later we meet another love-hate relationship when the girlfriend gets on the scene. We've all seen couples like this in real life; they argue all the time, but can't really be apart, the longer they're together the more codependent they become. Listening to them gives you a headache, but they can also be amusing. Tyler does a good job at portraying this.

The book also goes into Charlotte's past and this is where I realized she like me in some ways. Aside from a brief stint in apartment living, I am entering my third decade and living in the same house I was raised in, with a husband and a parent. I had always wanted to get out and was afraid that I would never be able to. After being out "in the real world" for awhile, I realized being at home wasn't so bad. In the end of the book I think she comes to the same conclusion that I have: even though I've lived in mostly one place, that doesn't mean that I can't have adventures. And as much as I have sometimes hated not just the house but the neighborhood I live in, I also have an affection for it because it has been such a part of who I am.
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