The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

The Accidental Tourist is a novel by Anne Tyler ( that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction in 1985 and the Ambassador Book Award for Fiction in 1986. The novel was adapted into a 1988 award-winning film starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, and Geena Davis, for which Davis won an Academy Award. (

Tyler has legions of devoted readers. To find out why, I’d recommend The Accidental Tourist. In this delightful and funny tale Macon Leary is a travel writer who hates travel and the entire purpose of his guides is to make the traveller feel as if he had never left home. “Other travellers hoped to discover distinctive local wines; Macon’s readers searched for pasteurized and homogenized milk.” The novel starts on a sombre note. A year after their young son was killed, Macon’s wife Sarah wants a divorce. But tragic is not the same as depressing, and Tyler is not a depressing writer.

By chapter two the reader is smiling at Macon’s attempts to “systemize” his life now he is free of the woman who “stored her flatware intermingled”. But when he falls and breaks his legs, he and Edward the dog are forced to move back with his three siblings who have all, one way or another, ended up back in the family home. The chapters spent in the company of the gentle, other-worldly, infuriating Leary siblings are particularly enjoyable. Edward, however, deals with his feelings of loss by biting strangers! Macon then calls on Muriel the dog obedience trainer to help sort Edward out. Muriel, with her mass of dark hair, sharp face and eyes “like caraway seeds”, is the devoted single mother to a small endearingly wheezy, pasty-faced son. Muriel never shuts up and doesn’t know the meaning of the word “routine”. A relationship develops and Macon’s frozen heart begins to thaw. When Sarah gets in touch and wants her husband back, he is not alone in being in two minds about what to do.

This novel, full of wisdom and writing that sneaks up on the reader with its brilliance, insight, and sheer humanity is strongly recommended.

Enquire at your local library or consult  for full bibliographic detail.

The film is available on DVD at


416 pages in Vintage

First published 1985

ISBN 978-0099480013


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Anne Tyler

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