The Clock Winder

It's always great to get recommended a good book by a friend whose literary tastes you share, but it's even better when she recommends a new author - especially if the author isn't new at all.

Suddenly, you're looking forward not just to the few hours of pleasure that comes with getting lost in a great book, but a few days or even weeks.

And so it was when a friend asked me a couple of months ago if I had read anything by Anne Tyler.

Not only had I not read anything she had written, I hadn't even heard of her – despite her (I learned later) having been a professional novelist for almost 40 years.

I am however starting to put that right – and, if all her books are as enjoyable as my first - The Clock Winder - I should have a treat ahead.

It's the story of Elizabeth, who accepts a job as gardener for a recently widowed old woman (who spends her days winding her clocks) and is gradually - and reluctantly - drawn into the dysfunctional life of her employer's family.

By turns funny and sad, romantic and tragic, the book is also uplifting, even if there is no fairy tale ending...