Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life. In 1967, she is a schoolgirl coping with her mother’s sudden disappearance. In 1977, she is a college coed considering a marriage proposal. In 1997, she is a young widow trying to piece her life back together. And in 2017, she yearns to be a grandmother but isn’t sure she ever will be. Then, one day, Willa receives a startling phone call from a stranger. Without fully understanding why, she flies across the country to Baltimore to look after a young woman she’s never met, her nine-year-old daughter, and their dog, Airplane. This impulsive decision will lead Willa into uncharted territory–surrounded by eccentric neighbors who treat each other like family, she finds solace and fulfillment in unexpected places. A bewitching novel of hope and transformation, Clock Dance gives us Anne Tyler at the height of her powers.
My Thoughts: In our journey through Clock Dance, we leap ahead to those defining moments in Willa’s life, from preteen years to the current time. What we learn about Willa and what she needed is how hopeful she always felt, while being basically unsatisfied. Her first husband, Derek, seemingly hijacked her life and her decisions, and even in his death, he was thinking only of himself as he made some fatal choices.
Motherhood was also a time of meeting the needs of others, while ignoring her own. The realization of what she had given up for family and for husbands would later come to awaken her to those unmet needs and how very important they suddenly were to her. Her second husband could have been someone to fill in those blanks in her life, but again, he was someone who met his own needs first.
I liked how Willa finally started making choices based on what she wanted and needed. Would she finally start to feel that fulfillment? Would an unexpected trip to Baltimore to help out her son’s ex-girlfriend offer the opportunity to surround herself with a collection of people who would begin to feel like an extended family? Could she learn that just when she thought she had to pick up her same old life, she could visualize a very different kind of life? One with room for the people and activities she longed to enjoy. 5 stars.