Aaron is an editor at his family's vanity publishing company, where they put out books like "The Beginner's Birdwatching," and "The Beginner's Spice Cabinet." He is the usual quirky, odd character that is so familiar in Anne Tyler's books. He's married to Dorothy, a no-nonsense and awkward kind of girl eight years his senior. Dorothy is a doctor who for some reason never takes off her white medical coat, and she is unfortunately killed early in the book when an old oak tree crashes through the roof of their house. The book is about Aaron's coming to terms with her death, and with their marriage, as he begins to "see" Dorothy around town and have conversations with her, mostly about their relationship. I know that Tyler lost her husband some years ago, and I kept wondering how many of her descriptions of Aaron's grief were personal to her. Did her husband come back and talk to her?
I don't think it is one of her best books, but it is still Anne Tyler, and her characters and the Baltimore setting are as comforting as ever. As I was reading it, I kept feeling like it would have made a good short story, perhaps because I have been on a short story kick lately.