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Searching for Caleb [Paperback]

Anne Tyler
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 27 1996
"Magic and true, dazzling and wise...It has an astounding confidence, depth and range...A wonderful, wonderful novel."


Duncan Peck has a fascination for randomness and is always taking his family on the move. His wife, Justine, is a fortune teller who can't remember the past. Her grandfather, Daniel, longs to find the brother who walked out of his life in 1912, with nothing more than a fiddle in his hand. All three are taking journeys that lead back to the family's deepest a place where rebellion and acceptance have the haunting power to merge into one....

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Product Details

Product Description


"Family sagas have such an endless appeal that whenever one meets a really good one, like Anne Tyler's Searching for Caleb, one wonders why anyone bothers to write a different form of novel" -- Auberon Waugh "Anne Tyler is a writer whose special gift is to convey the richness, strangeness and unpredicability of seemingly everyday lives" Sunday Telegraph "Strange and enchanting" The Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Anne Tyler is one of America's most acclaimed novelists, and in 1994 was nominated 'greatest living novelist writing in English' by Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby. Her fiction includes the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Breathing Lessons and The Accidental Tourists, which was made into a major film. Her most recent novels are Ladder of Years, the bestselling Back when We Were Grownups and The Amateur Marriage. Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941, but has lived for many years with her family in Baltimore, where her novels are set. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than most April 3 2002
This was not my absolute favorite Tyler book, but it is still better than most of what is out there! I was so glad to find one of her books that I had not read. I also enjoyed reading this early Tyler book to be able to see her growth as a writer in the last 25 or more years.
The characters in "Searching for Caleb" are typical Tyler: quirky, odd, flawed, and appealingly annoying. Most of them are what someone would describe as a "character", someone unusual.
Justine, Duncan, and Daniel Peck are so finely and realistically drawn by this talented author that one wonders where they have gone when the book is finished. Tyler makes them so real...I found myself wanting to kick Justine and Duncan in the seat and telling them to get their acts together and end their fly-by-night life for the sake of their daughter.
I think it is the mark of a great author when s/he gets a reader to feel this involved in a book, even if the feelings are ones of frustration, or even of anger, at the characters' actions.
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Anne Tyler is my favorite living author and one of less than a handful who produce books that I must rush out and buy immediately. In hardback, at full price - and I HATE paying full price! Novels like this are what made me fall in love with Anne Tyler. I do not understand other comments from readers. Apparently they want fictional characters to be inspirationally motivating role models that will save the world and enlighten us all. Well, sorry, but people are not like that in real life, either. They are exotic and boring and delightful and monstrously annoying, all at the same time, As are the Pecks. The story works brilliantly. While we are wondering if Caleb Peck will be found, we're learning about "black sheep" Justine and Duncan, how they met and married. Justine's story about the cousin who was such a bad influence on her, and what happened to him, is amusing, with a terrific ending line. I found all the Pecks delightful. I found neither Justine nor Duncan "weak" or "unpleasant," but flawed, and delightfully so. Perhaps other readers were made nervous by Justine's rootlessness; I don't know. I DO know that I have enjoyed all Tyler's books, and yet I constantly return to the Pecks - I love them! Anne Tyler has a great gift - that cannot be denied. Good writing like this is so hard to find, and needs to be treasured. I highly recommend this book - it's a gem!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Addition Feb. 26 2001
By E.C.
Once again Anne Tyler outdoes herself with another intriguing novel, Searching For Caleb. The mix of irresistible details along with Tyler's ability to reach the irrational root of human nature absorbs and enchants the readers. Katha Pollitt, a reviewer of contemporary fiction, clearly states her opinion in a 1975 review, "Reading 'Searching for Caleb,' one is constantly being startled by such moments: gestures, words, wrinkles of thought and feeling that are at once revelatory and exactly right." In Searching For Caleb, Anne Tyler creates and leads us to understand the Peck family of Baltimore. As a reserved, wealthy family, the Pecks are concerned with and only with the well being of their family, choosing to ignore the world outside of the secluded suburbia that several generations have called home. The presiding figure over the many generations is the aging grandfather, Daniel. Daniel's every thought is fixated on the mysterious disappearance of his musical brother, Caleb, which occurred over 60 years ago. Ironically, Daniel's grandson, Duncan, an untamed boy consumed by an infatuation with danger, also rebels against the Pecks. Justine, previously a fervent member of the Peck family and an amateur fortune-teller, marries her cousin, Duncan. The couple races through small New England towns and life trying to make a living with Duncan restlessly changing his profession and Justine's predictions. When Justine decides to join her grandfather, Daniel, in an effort to find his long, lost brother Caleb, she is also searching for much more. She is looking for an answer to love, life, and to the ever-changing directions of her unsettled husband, Duncan. Searching For Caleb is a "must-read" for any die-hard Anne Tyler enthusiasts. A twisting plot and an accelerated emotional roller coaster make this novel a classic and a compelling addition to Tyler's collection of heart-warming novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars ANNE TYLER DELIVERS May 13 2001
I am an avid fan of Anne Tyler, marking her on my top ten list of female authors. Why? Because she has the amazing ability to take, quirky, eccentric, unusual characters, throw them into everyday life, and stir the mix into grand entertainment. As readers we come to appreciate oddity; not to fear it or judge it. Humor is paramount to her tales that flow with effortless dialogue and exquisite descriptions.
The Peck family is a staple of Baltimore society; their homes are meticulous; their manners impeccable; their views staunch and unchanging; their style set in stone like the identical homes they reside in. BUT, Duncan and Justine, walking to the beat of different drummers, break away in search of spontaniety. Their idosyncratic attempts toward this end, make for a most insightful presentation.
Don't be afraid. Meet the Pecks. You will come to accept and like them warts and all. This is quite a delightful read!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mistress of Quirk
Anne Tyler succeeds in the difficult art of making essentially boring, humdrum, quirky, flawed, annoying, bizarre, weirdo social misfits the fascinating and eminently readable... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2003 by Peggy Vincent
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak women -- an Anne Tyler speciality
This is only the second Anne Tyler book I've read and I'm not impressed. The book was depressing. I had hope as the book progressed that the main character would... Read more
Published on May 30 2001 by L. Somsel
5.0 out of 5 stars The search will get you hooked
I really enjoyed this novel. The characters are so well developed.
Published on Sept. 1 2000 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Searching for Caleb
One of, if not THE BEST, of Anne Tyler's wonderful novels. After reading this book, I had a new understanding of Fortune tellers and more importantly of families and family... Read more
Published on May 14 2000 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Tyler
Searching for Caleb is quintessential Tyler -- quirky and bittersweet with characters you'll remember for a long time after you read the book. Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2000 by Tracy Cradit
2.0 out of 5 stars I'm sorry to say this, but...
Can you say "I didn't get it" about a book? Yes? OK, then - I didn't get it! Couldn't understand the point of it. Read more
Published on Dec 20 1999 by Nirit
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite from Anne Tyler
I have read everything from Anne Tyler, and this is without a doubt my favorite. Although I agree that Justine, Duncan, or any of the Pecks are hardly rolemodels, they are... Read more
Published on Nov. 27 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars There's better, there's worse...
To from Canada: try "Saint Maybe," before you give up on Anne Tyler. I think you'll like it much better than these two. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 1999 by ca-bookshelf
4.0 out of 5 stars Short student review of characters and Anne's talent
For my honors English 11 class, I picked Ann Tyler as my American author for summer reading. I was referred to her for her comic and lyric way of writing, and I was not... Read more
Published on Aug. 27 1999
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