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The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass

The Widower's Tale

by Julia Glass

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7024413,505 (3.7)33



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Family drama about grandfather and grandson in small town near Boston. Preschool, immigrant worker and ecoterrorism. ( )
  mgriel | Aug 28, 2016 |
The Widower’s Tale: A Novel-Julia Glass

Audio version performed by Mark Bramhall

4 stars

The widowed Percy Darling, having passed his seventieth birthday, is in the midst of many challenging life changes. His wayward, divorced daughter has convinced him to allow a nursery school to occupy his converted barn. He has a new love interest in his life. His oldest grandson is about to throw the entire family into crisis. This book is rich in vibrant characters. It looks at life from a variety of divergent viewpoints; the old and the young, wealthy and poor, male and female, straight and gay.

It is a credit to Julia Glass’s writing that I listened to her novel from beginning to end. Although the well-to-do family of this story does not overtly resemble my own, many of the emotional issues touched very close to home. I identified with the widowed Percy. Losing a spouse to tragic accident, raising children alone; I know this story. And Percy reminded me of my dad. (Just substitute a Mid-Atlantic accent for the Boston Brahmin.) I usually like my reading to give me a break form my own realities. Julia Glass did a very good job. She pulled me into the life of this family and kept me there. I’d like to meet Percy over coffee and have a good long talk.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
story and plot ok but too many characters with thier POV. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
story and plot ok but too many characters with thier POV. ( )
  micahmom2002 | Jan 25, 2016 |
My review: 4 looks

I am giving this one 4 looks and not a full 5 because I had such high hopes for this book when I started it, only to feel a little flat from the middle to the end. I loved the witty sarcasm of Percy, the full robustly different personalities of Trudy and Clover, and the clever writing of author Glass. However, once the characters started to take off, full of personality and flaws, I just didn't buy some of the scenarios.

For example, Percy so taken with Sarah after all this time after Poppy's death of not even a date with any one else? Then when Sarah was a bit in the background, a slight attraction to Daphne? I just didn't buy that part of the story. I also didn't quite buy the story of Robert. Were those homoerotic undertones for Turo? They were just on the surface, but never really acknowledged, much less explored. And the shock of the ecoterrorism's last exploits were a little hard to swallow. For them to go from passive-aggressive displays to a suddenly violent and destructive protest ... again, I may be naive, but I didn't see the sudden change in their modus operandi as plausible.

On the other hand, I loved the ongoing pain and coming to terms with the death of Poppy. I loved the complex and deep relationship of Ira and Anthony. I loved the conflicts, hopes, dreams and yearnings for family of Celestino. I liked the struggle of Robert with his dreams versus everyone's expectations. I liked the background of how Ira came to Matlock.

The very rich and real characters made me enjoy this book, but the hard-to-take scenarios keep me from giving it a "favorite" rating.
( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
Each strand of this narrative macramé is surprisingly supple, offering a convincing illusion of lives roundly lived. The effect is one of remarkable expansiveness, in which a rather modest small-town story is able to incorporate all kinds of contemporary social issues, including illegal immigration, eco-terrorism, health-care coverage, divorce and gay marriage....The older characters sometimes lapse into "On Golden Pond" parodies, and Glass gets the lively, profane patter of college students entirely wrong.

Even so, it's wonderful to see Glass recover the unforced flow of her first two novels, a rhythm that convincingly imitates the shifting fortunes and allegiances of daily life. Once again, she's proved to be a master of milieu, an old French word that means "middle place" -- the place in which all her characters, young and old, continue to engage with the world and where she, a novelist in mid-career, keeps refining their stories.
Reviewers have praised "The Widower’s Tale" for the author’s satiric wit, her ability to write from male perspectives, and for her talents in conveying a sense of place, which may have arisen from Glass’s early training as an artist. Los Angeles Times reviewer Helen McAlpin comments that humor does not mean Glass has become “all bounce and no bite,” noting that "The Widower’s Tale" takes on concerns from her previous novels, including breast cancer; mortality; mourning; rivalry between sisters; romantic relationships, both gay and straight; as well illegal immigration, gay marriage, and cultural decline.
This energized, good-humored novel, Julia Glass’s fourth, smashes through that illusion, beginning as satire, becoming stealthily suspenseful and ending up with a satisfyingly cleareyed and compassionate view of American entitlement and its fallout.
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In the way that a gambler who has lost can easily imagine himself again in possession of his money, thinking how false, how undeserved was the process that took it from him, so he sometimes found himself unwilling to believe what had happened, or certain that his marriage would somehow be found again.  So much of it was still in existence.

James Salter, Light Years
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my three Jewish mothers
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Enjoying an active but lonely rural life, seventy-year-old Percy allows a progressive preschool to move into his barn and transform his quiet home into a lively, youthful community that compels him to reexamine the choices he made after his wife's death.… (more)

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