The Widower's Tale
September 2010 Indie Next List
— Emily Crowe, Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA
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In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.
One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches—and begins to practice—an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs.
Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.
With equal parts affection and satire, Julia Glass spins a captivating tale about the loyalties, rivalries, and secrets of a very particular family. Yet again, she plumbs the human heart brilliantly, dramatically, and movingly.
Praise For The Widower's Tale: A Novel…
“A satisfyingly cleareyed and compassionate view of American entitlement and its fallout. . . The family is society’s most inescapable institution, but in Glass’s hands it’s also the most shifting and vulnerable. And in The Widower’s Tale she approaches the ties of kinship with the same joyfully disruptive spirit that animated her previous books.”
—Maria Russo, The New York Times Book Review
“An enchanting story of familial bonds and late-life romance. Expect to be infatuated with Glass’s protagonist, 70-year-old Percy Darling, he of generous soul, dry wit, and courtly manners.”
“Glass effortlessly ping-pongs between three dramas to show how everyday love and lies can make—or completely destroy—a life. This one’s perfect for when you’ve got the night all to yourself and want to keep thinking long after the last page is turned.”
“Tremendously engaging . . . It's a large, endearing cast, bursting with emotional and social issues, and Glass slips effortlessly between their individual and enmeshed dramas. As she well proved in her National Book Award-winning Three Junes, Glass crafts dense and absorbing reads that are as charming as they are provocative.”
—Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly
“Both funny and heartbreaking, [Glass’s] fourth novel will eave readers examining their own choices and priorities . . . One of the most remarkable aspects of Glass’s novel is that she writes convincingly from multiple points of view, classes and stations in life.”
“Alluring descriptions, along with discerning characters, intricate plot lines, and the tackling of several complex issues offers an empathetic yet lively read.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Glass spins a beautifully paced, keenly observed story in which certainties give way to surprising reversals of fortune . . . Glass handles coalescing plot elements with astute insight into the complexity of family relationships, the gulf between social classes, and our modern culture of excess to create a dramatic, thought-provoking, and immensely satisfying novel.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Glass’s perfect plot gives each character his or her due, in an irresistible pastoral tragicomedy that showcases the warmth and wisdom of one of America’s finest novelists, approaching if not already arrived at her peak.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“Elaborately plotted and luxuriously paced, Glass’s inquisitive, compassionate, funny, and suspenseful saga addresses significant and thorny social issues with emotional veracity, artistic nuance, and a profound perception of the grand interconnectivity of life.”
—Booklist (starred review)
Praise for I See You Everywhere
“Rich, intricate, and alive with emotion . . . An honest portrait of sister-love and sister-hate—interlocking, brave, and forgiving.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“One doesn’t read so much as sink into a Julia Glass novel, lulled into an escapist reverie by her mastery . . . A novel that begins as sophisticated diversion [becomes] a haunting dissection of human fragility.”
Praise for The Whole World Over
“[Glass’s] second novel is even finer than her first . . . Her characters are enticingly complex, their predicaments are provocative and significant . . . Her love for animals, feel for landscape, and ardor for language itself feed the freshness, sensuousness, and compassion that make this such a nourishing and pleasurable read.”
“Beautiful and satisfying, chock-full of the gorgeous, heartbreaking stuff that makes life worth living.”
—Rocky Mountain News
Praise for Three Junes
“Enormously accomplished . . . Rich, absorbing, and full of life.”
—The New Yorker
“Brilliantly rescues, then refurbishes, the traditional plot-driven novel . . . Glass has written a generous book about family expectations—but also about happiness.”
—The New York Times Book Review
Pantheon, 9780307377920, 416pp.
Publication Date: September 7, 2010
About the Author
Julia Glass is the author of Three Junes, winner of the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction; The Whole World Over; and I See You Everywhere, winner of the 2009 Binghamton University John Gardner Book Award. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her short fiction has won several prizes, and her personal essays have been widely anthologized. She lives in Massachusetts with her family.