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Every Last Cuckoo

by Kate Maloy

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2633273,358 (3.57)18
Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles's sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone. As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years they spent raising their three very different children; and her childhood during the Great Depression, when her parents opened their home to countless relatives and neighbors. So, when a variety of wayward souls come seeking shelter in Sarah's own big, empty home, her past comes full circle. As this unruly flock forms a family of sorts, they--with Sarah--nurture and protect one another, all the while discovering their unsuspected strengths and courage. In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who gracefully accepts a surprising new role just when she though her best years were behind her.… (more)

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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I was disappointed in this book. I've been thinking about it for several days after finishing it, not sure how to describe my feelings. What I did like was the setting and the descriptions of rural Vermont. The author skillfully recreates the sights and seasons, the scents, sounds, and details of the landscape, the flora and fauna. Another plus was the author's ability to describe a long-time marriage and healthy relationship of a couple in their 70's/80's. But the book's focus on aging,death, and decay was depressing, and much of the plot's foreshadowing was unfulfilled.

One major irritation was the title. In the U.S. the slang for cuckoo is screwball, silly, wacky, crazy. I kept waiting for this to tie in with the plot. Only once in the middle of the novel, and again at the very end is there a reference to a cuckoo bird. I had to it look up after finishing the book and found out that a cuckoo bird lays her eggs in another bird's nest for the other bird to hatch. I think the concept was just too subtle and I surely wouldn't have used this reference in the title with such a weak connection. I wouldn't recommend this book unless it was the only unread book available to you while on an overseas flight. ( )
  PhyllisReads | Apr 27, 2019 |
The first half of the book held promise but the second half was a hippy-dippy preachy mess. However, the cover is beautiful! ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
We meet Sarah, just as her husband dies, then in part I learn more about her life - her marriage to Charlie, raising her kids, losing an infant and wonder now what. And in part II, she becomes like a warbler, raising the cuckoo's young. Her home in her old age becomes like her childhood home - a ragtag disparate group of people living with her, and in their own way, making her live again.
I don't know why this resonated so strongly with me. Maybe because I'm a widow, grown children, and sharing the same growing pains as Sarah. ( )
  nancynova | Sep 3, 2015 |
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. An older couple are looking forward to living out their retirement years, when death suddenly changes the plans. A group of mismatched misfits move into their home ... and in the end it works for everyone. This was a touching, heartwarming book. With the fall weather approaching, this is a perfect read for a cup of tea, changing leaves and a picture window.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
It's hard to pinpoint exactly where I become impatient with fiction of this kind, because it is so well-meant, first of all, carefully thought out (and it is about something important - grief and responsibility) and quite well written albeit in a mundane sort of prose, with characters who are, basically believable if not fully dimensional..... but..... what? What is missing? Is it the 'o' word as in originality? Is it Too. Much. Detail? Is it that it is both about 'everywoman' and no woman you've ever met? -Not to mention that kind of small town fake community schtick? Sarah is in her 70's is widowed early on in the book (the interplay of past and present was well done). She lives in a large old farmhouse and suddenly, instead of being alone, she begins to invite in strays, cuckoos, like the old woman who lived in a shoe. OK, so much for the story. I live in Vermont, I know it and while there is nothing here that is not accurate either about the natural surroundings or the social circumstances the sum total was too..... tidy. So - while it was a pleasant read, it was also occasionally kind of tedious and annoying. I can't quite give it a 3 1/2 - I would give it a 3 1/4 for little flashes of the kind of weird detail that makes fiction for me: "She got out of bed each morning with heavy reluctance, hating the look of her side rumpled and Charles' undisturbed. She took to lying flat in bed, pulling the covers up smooth over her outstretched form, then folding the top sheet over the edge before slipping out from underneath. Thus the bed was as good as made and the absence of Charles was less blatant before she even stood up." There were several of these 'moments' and they kept me going. A good read I think if you are in need of soothing. *** (plus the 1/4) ( )
  sibylline | Mar 23, 2014 |
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Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles's sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone. As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years they spent raising their three very different children; and her childhood during the Great Depression, when her parents opened their home to countless relatives and neighbors. So, when a variety of wayward souls come seeking shelter in Sarah's own big, empty home, her past comes full circle. As this unruly flock forms a family of sorts, they--with Sarah--nurture and protect one another, all the while discovering their unsuspected strengths and courage. In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who gracefully accepts a surprising new role just when she though her best years were behind her.

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