Clock Dance [Book Review]

September 7, 2018

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

Clock Dance by Anne tyler (cover) Image: yellow and white text over a large cactus (with one small bloom) and a brilliant blue sky

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Life


In Clock Dance, Anne Tyler provides a compelling characterization of Willa Drake from a childhood with an unpredictable mother, to her college years and engagement, to her later years as a young widow rebuilding her life, and, finally, to her senior years which find her longing for attachment, family, and a place to belong. In this bittersweet journey, readers root for Willa as she experiences grief, renewed hope, and new direction for her life.

Amazon Rating (September): 3.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

Expectations. Sometimes it helps to go into a read with low expectations. I had read only two of Tyler’s works before this and I was left underwhelmed. Even though Anne Tyler masterfully creates well-drawn characters and is well-known for her beautiful, nuanced writing, I need a bit of a plot to keep me engaged.

Surprise. Because I admire Tyler’s writing and one of my favorite literary reviewers (Modern Mrs. Darcy) recommended this book on her Summer Reading Guide, I decided to give it a try…but with low expectations because heavily character-driven stories are not always my favorite. Well, pleasant surprise! I was pleased to find myself engaged with this quiet, bittersweet story of an ordinary woman’s life. I was able to relate to her on several levels and the author provided just enough plot to keep me reading.

Read Alike. In some respects this story reminds me of Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. If you’ve read both, please let me know what you think of this comparison! One difference is that, for me, the resolution is more satisfying in Clock Dance than it is in Britt-Marie. On the other hand, Britt-Marie has more action!

Connections. Reading is a personal experience and the ability to make some connection with a character or a situation makes all the difference! That’s why I always encourage readers to give books a try. I’m glad I gave Clock Dance a chance!

Recommended. Although there are mixed reviews of Clock Dance and it’s not one I recommend for everyone, it’s one that I recommend trying if you love beautiful, nuanced writing and well-drawn characters. Readers who love Anne Tyler and appreciate a quiet story of an ordinary woman finding her voice might love this. Also recommended for fans of Britt-Marie Was Here. Book clubs might enjoy this one!

My Rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars on Goodreads)

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clock dance

Clock Dance Information Here

Meet the Author, Anne Tyler

Anne TylerAnne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the author of more than twenty novels. Her twentieth novel, A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2015. Her eleventh novel, BREATHING LESSONS, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.


Do you enjoy quiet, character driven stories?
What are some that you’ve read and enjoyed?
Are you a fan of Anne Tyler?
Do you have favorite books by her?
Have you read Clock Dance, or is it on your TBR?

Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read all but three on the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)

Looking Ahead:

This week I plan to finish Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and bring you a review next Friday.

just mercy

Amazon Information Here

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.



  1. […] Clock Dance by Anne Tyler Genre: Women’s Fiction/Domestic Life. Releases July 10, 2018. Although I’m not a huge Anne Tyler fan, I’m willing to give this a try (keeping it on my list until more reviews come in) because she’s a gifted writer. ***UPDATE: Pleasantly surprised by this quiet, character driven story. 3.5 Stars. Full Review Here […]

  2. Hi Carol! this does sound like a book I could relate to– almost like a fictional memoir. I’ve read a couple of Anne Tyler’s books– and agree about her well drawn characters. Right now reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin. She is one my favorite blogger/Instagramers. She models living simply and caring for the people around you–those you might easily pass by.

    • I love Shannon Martin! She’s a gifted writer and walks the talk! Authentic, transparent, and warm hearted. Love her thoughts on hospitality and drawing a wider circle! I first knew of her as Flower Patch Farm Girl! Thanks for taking some moments to comment! (P.s. would you like to write a guest post? Are you on her launch team!)

      • Hi Carol– yep, I’ve been reading her for quite a while too. Now I feel like her instgrams are mini blog posts. Do you get her occasional emails?? they’re fun. Anyway, yep, I just asked to be on the launch team and the books came in the mail. Almost finished. Going to write a post about it later this week. You can see if you’d want to use any of it. It really is a worthwhile book. take care. xo

      • I’d be happy to let you use it Carol– posted it today. But truly it’s not up to the standards of your reviews (by far) so I’m not disappointed if it’s not what you’re looking for. But I do recommend the book!! xox

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