Barnaby Gaitlin was never a bad kid, but he was certainly doing his best to impersonate one. As a teenager, he developed a habit of breaking into other people’s houses. But he wasn’t interested in the valuable loot—he just liked to read people’s mail, peruse their family albums, and maybe pocket a few personal mementos. Now almost thirty and divorced, he finds himself working for Rent-aBack, which helps the elderly and infirm move furniture or take down their Christmas trees. It’s the perfect career for Barnaby: with each job, he’s able to steal a glimpse into a customer’s house and life. Then Barnaby meets Sophia. Her inherent, unshakeable goodness is totally foreign to him—and irresistible. With small moments of growth, Barnaby struggles to become the good man he hopes to be, finding that life rarely happens all at once but rather builds over time, patch by patch.
Anne Tyler, an American novelist, is also an author of short stories and is a literary critic. She has had 22 novels published, being cited in literary publications as creating fully developed characters and commended for her accurate attention to detail. Some of her more well-known novels are: Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and A Spool of Blue Thread. She has been compared to John Updike, Jane Austin, and Eudora Welty.
Tyler was born in Minneapolis Minnesota, as the oldest of four children to a chemist Dad and a social worker Mother. They were Quakers who lived in a series of Quaker communes, one being formed by conscientious objectors, as Anne was age 7 through 11. Her practical, hands on education was supplemented by correspondence school. Her first short stories, she told to herself under the covers at 3 years of age, to try to get sleepy. Her favorite book was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and had a profound influence on her ability to show "how the years flowed by, people altered, and nothing could ever stay the same". Her early perception of changes over time appear and reappear in Tyler's novels, just as her favorite book, The Little House, appears in her first novel.
Tyler considered herself to be an outsider in public schools, but also attributed that same feeling as having been a valuable asset in her writing success. Her other credit is given to a former high school English teacher, Phillis Peacock. Seven years after high school, Tyler dedicated her first published novel to "Mrs. Peacock, for everything you've done".
Tyler has won many literary awards including a Pulitzer. She remains closely associated with the city of Baltimore, Maryland, her home since 1967, and is the location used in many of her books. Her husband died in 1997, and their two daughters have gone on to careers in the arts.