Back when We Were Grownups: A Novel

Front Cover
Alfred A. Knopf, 2001 - Fiction - 273 pages
118 Reviews
"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 divorcÚ 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 Arms.

Now, some thirty years later, after presiding over a disastrous family picnic, Rebecca is caught un-awares 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 inBack When We Were Grownupsshe so sharpens our perceptions and awakens so many untapped feelings that we come away not only refreshed and delighted, but also infinitely wiser.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
27
4 stars
27
3 stars
23
2 stars
22
1 star
19

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - cherilove - LibraryThing

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, but after the ending, was disappointed that I had spent so much time with with a group of people who were almost all unpleasant or unhappy. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - olevia - LibraryThing

It's been a while since I've read Anne Tyler, and this book reminds me of why I like her. Small stories of everyday people, told well, with sympathy, but without the condescension that many authors have about characters not from the educated middle-class. Read full review

All 93 reviews »

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis in 1941 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated at nineteen from Duke University and went on to do graduate work in Russian studies at Columbia University. This is Anne Tyler’s fifteenth novel;
her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore.

Bibliographic information