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Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan

Emily, Alone

by Stewart O'Nan

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5564526,658 (3.97)106



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Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
4 1/2 stars, really, very close to five, if only for the incredible depth of characterization. The writing is--as per usual for O'Nan--very fine. Unfortunately--also as per usual for O'Nan--not a whole lot happens. Really nothing at all. And I think the book was maybe fifty pages too long to have so little forward movement, no matter how well conceived Emily is.

Alternatively, I may be a touch cranky since I am about to turn forty and my daughter's bat mitzvah is this weekend and it may not have been the perfect time to read a book about growing old, as it only made me feel older than I actually am. And when I am old--I sincerely hope my children call more often than Emily's do. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Somewhat sad and somewhat depressing but isn't that what life is all about when one hits a certain age, wants to retain independence, family is dispersed and friends are dying off one by one? Isn't that a sad commentary about old age in the USA? But O'Nan brings moments of humor too....a real sense of reality.
Emily needless to say is a widow, with her sister-in-law Arlene as her neighbor and only buddy. And her dog that i think is even older than she is ?? The reader follows her life in short chapters. Her memories, her wishes, and what has become HER reality.....the daily minutiae of routine and ritual. " That was how time passed- waiting through everything else to do the thing you wanted. How little fell into that category now..............She thought there should be more to live for."
It may sound boring but i didn't think so. It sounded real. ( )
  linda.marsheells | Aug 3, 2017 |
Like a meditation. A good insight into an old day, I think. A beautiful book. Emily's house is my new safe place in my mind. ( )
  bookscentlover | Mar 13, 2017 |
Edited: read in 2012 but this review was inadvertently posted in the comments section so I'm moving it to a review.

4.5 stars

This is a slow, insightful, beautifully written novel. There’s no action-packed plot but we are given a glimpse into the interior iife of Emily, a widowed lady in her 80s whose children and grandchildren live far away.

Emily is an ordinary old woman, living ordinary days with her old dog Rufus and her sister-in-law as her one friend. I found it absorbing to read about her interior life: her thoughts, wishes, regrets, and hopes. Emily is far from perfect but she is realistic.

For the most part I don't think a younger person would enjoy this book but for those of us of a certain age it’s a poignant read. ( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
A portrait of an aging woman, in her 80's after her husband and best friend had died. Nothing much seems to happen and yet it's an excellent and accurate picture, ruminating about the past but not wanting to, living for visits from the kids but finding them anxiety producing and exhausting, and finding some peace with herself. ( )
  snash | Feb 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 44 (next | show all)
O’Nan’s best novel yet.
Emily, Alone is one of those rare books in which nothing particular happens and yet just about everything seems to be going on. ..Although she dreads becoming “one of those old ladies obsessed with death, hearing it in every tick of the clock and creak of the floorboards, as if it were prowling around the house like a burglar,” the prospect of her demise proves impossible to ignore....This is not to say that the novel is gloomy or morbid....Readers who appreciate psychological nuance and fictional filigree will delight in Emily, Alone.
Which is what makes me enthusiastic about “Emily, Alone.” It quietly shuffles in where few authors have dared to go. And it’s so humane and so finely executed that I hope it finds those sensitive readers who will appreciate it. .....Through short, crisp chapters we follow Emily’s well-ordered, dignified life, frequently challenged by calamities and disappointments large and small, all gently captured in O’Nan’s precise, unadorned prose....“Emily, Alone” makes the perfect demonstration of O’Nan’s humanizing vision.
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Could it be, even for elderly people, that this was life - startling, unexpected, unknown? - Virginia Woolf
For my mother, who took me to the bookmobile
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Tuesdays, Emily Maxwell put what precious little remained of her life in God's and her sister-in-law Arlene's shaky hands and they drove together to Edgewood for Eat 'n Park's two-for-one breakfast buffet.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670022357, Hardcover)

From the author of Last Night at the Lobster, a moving vision of love and family.

A sequel to the bestselling, much-beloved Wish You Were Here, Stewart O'Nan's intimate new novel follows Emily Maxwell, a widow whose grown children have long moved away. She dreams of vists by her grandchildren while mourning the turnover of her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood, but when her sole companion and sister-in-law Arlene faints at their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily's days change. As she grapples with her new independence, she discovers a hidden strength and realizes that life always offers new possibilities. Like most older women, Emily is a familiar yet invisible figure, one rarely portrayed so honestly. Her mingled feelings-of pride and regret, joy and sorrow- are gracefully rendered in wholly unexpected ways. Once again making the ordinary and overlooked not merely visible but vital to understanding our own lives, Emily, Alone confirms O'Nan as an American master.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:15 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Newly independent widow Emily Maxwell dreams of visits by grandchildren and mourns changes in her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood before realizing an inner strength to pursue developing opportunities.

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