> Skip to content

A bittersweet novel of family and self-discovery from the Sunday Times bestselling, award-winning author of A Spool of Blue Thread

Willa Drake can count on one hand the defining moments of her life: when she was eleven and her mother disappeared, being proposed to at twenty-one, the accident that would make her a widow at forty-one. At each of these moments, Willa ended up on a path laid out for her by others.

So when she receives a phone call telling her that her son’s ex-girlfriend has been shot and needs her help, she drops everything and flies across the country. The spur-of-the moment decision to look after this woman – and her nine-year-old daughter, and her dog – will lead Willa into uncharted territory. Surrounded by new and surprising neighbours, she is plunged into the rituals that make a community, and takes pleasure in the most unexpected things.

A bittersweet novel of hope and regret, fulfilment and renewal, Clock Dance brings us the everyday life of a woman who decides it’s never too late to change direction, and choose your own path.

'She is and always will be my favourite author' Liane Moriarty


If Anne Tyler isn't the best writer in the world, who is?

Jane Garvey, BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour

One of our greatest living fiction writers and if I was in charge, she'd have a Nobel by now

Julie Myerson, Observer

Brims with the qualities that have brought her legions of fans and high critical acclaim. Characters pulse with lifelikeness. The tone flickers between humorous relish and sardonic shrewdness. Dialogue crackles with authenticity. Beneath it all is an insistence that it's never too soon to recognise how quickly life can speed by and never too late to make vitalising changes

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

How does she do it? Her style is deceptively simple. Even though she performs narrative cartwheels that would lead other novelists to be praised as experimental... she does it with such ease that it seems closer to life than to art. it is almost as though we are there to witness time passing, and people changing

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

A writer sharp-eyed as a butcher-bird, skewering complacency... an immensely funny writer... a quiet writer, in that much of her skill goes toward the excision of anything that reminds the reader they are reading

Patrick Gale, Sunday Telegraph

Clock Dance, rife with the hurts and joys of living, is far more than merely very good... For readers Anne Tyler is a life force; for writers she is simply the best

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

A smart, touching exploration of altruism and the nature of a meaningful life

Anthony Cummings, Daily Mail

A beautifully crafted, bitter-sweet story about regret, empty nest syndrome, loneliness within a relationship and seeking purpose and fulfilment in life. Kick back and lose yourself in this gem of a novel

Sinead Moriarty & Rick O'Shea, Irish Times

My favourite author… She writes such absorbing, wise, tender books, devastatingly acute about human nature… She never fails

Jacqueline Wilson

The loneliness and confusion of childhood are wonderfully rendered...reminiscent of Tyler's best work, such as Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant

Molly McCloskey, Guardian

Classic Tyler; she captures the defining moments of love and loss in one middle-aged woman's life and combines it with the ultimate upbeat ending, proving it's never too late to live the life you want

YOU Magazine

Tyler remains my most trusted literary companion… Freedom, flight, oxygen, breath, space: these themes whistle through Clock Dance's pages

Rebecca Swirsky, New Statesman

Full of small delights... She has a keen eye and an alert ear, sympathy for her characters, an awareness of both life's comedy and its tragedy

Alan Massie, Scotsman

In Anne Tyler’s skilled hands the everyday becomes significant… With beautifully observed characters and infused with quiet humour, this is another triumph

Fanny Blake, Woman & Home

Tyler's tenderness with her protagonists shouldn't be undervalued; this, along with her attention to detail when it comes to the minutiae of quotidian life, is what makes one keep reading


Funny and interesting… Tyler’s novel presents a moving portrait of a woman, late in life, discovering an environment in which she can flourish

Pamela Norris, Literary Review

The book we'll all be reading this summer

Louise France, The Times

A stellar addition to Tyler's prodigious catalogue

Publishers Weekly

The most dependably rewarding novelist now at work in our country... Ms. Tyler’s career reveals a surpassing steadiness – of ambition, theme, output

Wall Street Journal

I adore her and find her books immensely comforting. I loved her latest [Clock Dance]. It's such a bold book... a novel that encourages you to play the shrink

Patrick Gale, Observer

Tyler has a keen eye and an alert ear, sympathy for her characters, an awareness of both life’s comedy and its tragedy

Allan Massie

One of this country's great artists...a powerful, stirring work. Tyler has lost none of the inspired grace of her prose, nor her sad, frank humor, nor her limitless sympathy for women who ask for little and get less

USA Today

Her stirring story celebrates the joys of self-discovery and the essential truth that family is ours to define


Tyler's bedazzling yet fathoms-deep feel-good novel is wrought with nimble humour, intricate understanding of emotions and family, place and community – and bounteous pleasure in quirkiness, discovery, and renewal


I never look at a family, or a couple in a car, or a funeral cortege without thinking: "I wonder what's going on there." That's what Anne Tyler teaches you: never judge a cover until you've read its book

Ann Treneman, The Times

Tyler captures the quiet turmoil of family life with the utmost discretion, knowing that to understand it is not the same as being able to subordinate it

Alex Clark, Times Literary Supplement

Rigorously intelligent, quietly funny and very precise about words

Mark Lawson, Radio Times

A beautifully observed portrait of one woman’s quiet quest for identity and purpose

Hannah Beckerman, Sunday Express

Clock Dance is moving, funny acute… This is a beautifully structured work of fiction, full of narrative tension, which moves towards a fine diminuendo, followed by a crisis of possibility

Linsay Duguid, The Tablet

A lovely novel following the author’s usual theme of hope and regret, renewal and contentment


Tyler has the ability to bring character to life in just a few sentences

Claire Allfree, Metro

Anne Tyler’s astute new novel Clock Dance is fuelled by kindness, kindness that begins tentatively with false starts and blind spots and grows into the extravagant all-encompassing sort

Susan Boyt, Financial Times

I loved Clock Dance

Cressida Connolly, Spectator

Warmly appealing and sharply observant...combines comic relish with psychological and social shrewdness. Characters pulse with lifelikeness. Dialogue crackles with authenticity. Changes brought about by time are fascinatedly and fascinatingly observed

Sunday Times

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    July 16, 2018

    Chatto & Windus

    304 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Clock Dance
    Anne Tyler



    July 15, 2018

    Chatto & Windus

    304 pages

    RRP $55.00

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    July 12, 2018

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ
  • Paperback


    July 16, 2019


    352 pages

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory


Part I


Willa Drake and Sonya Bailey were selling candy bars door-to-door. This was for the Herbert Malone Elementary School Orchestra. If they sold enough, the orchestra would get to travel to the regional competitions in Harrisburg. Willa had never been to Harrisburg, but she liked the harsh, gritty sound of the name. Sonya had been but had no memory of it because she was a baby at the time. Both of them swore they would absolutely die if they didn’t get to go now.

Willa played the clarinet. Sonya played the flute. They were eleven years old. They lived two blocks from each other in Lark City, Pennsylvania, which wasn’t a city at all or even much of a town and in fact didn’t even have sidewalks except on the one street where the stores were. In Willa’s mind, sidewalks were huge. She planned never to live in a place without them after she was grown.

Because of the lack of sidewalks, they weren’t allowed to walk on the roads after dark. So they set out in the afternoon, Willa lugging a carton of candy bars and Sonya holding a manila envelope for the money they hoped to make. They started from Sonya’s house, where they’d first had to finish their homework. Sonya’s mother made them promise to head back as soon as the sun—pale as milk anyhow in mid-February—fell behind the scratchy trees on top of Bert Kane Ridge. Sonya’s mother was kind of a worrier, much more so than Willa’s mother.

Continue Reading