All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Widower's Tale, by Julia Glass

"I have always been an avid and fairly ecumenical reader of fiction:  I relish the pretend, the invented, the convincingly contrived." -Percy Darling, The Widower's Tale

Julia Glass's The Widower's Tale is a beautifully written story, full of the vagrancies and unpredictability of real life.  Glass spares nothing--bigotry, passion, naivete, love, and death--all find a place in her pages. 

The story centers around Percy Darling, a retired reference librarian, a likable curmudgeon living in an old house in the small New England town of Matlock.  His wife Poppy died when his two girls were young, and the grief and guilt associated with her death lingers.  When he agrees to allow his barn (Poppy's former dance studio) to be converted into "Elves and Fairies," a preschool for precocious and well-funded tots, his life takes an unexpected turn involving the mother of one of the children. 

Glass's narrative dances between the stories of Percy, his grandson Robert, a naive and bright college student, Celestino, a talented landscaper and illegal alien, and the beleaguered Ira, an instructor at Elves and Fairies. Robert is drawn into an underground protest group by a charming roommate, and unwittingly becomes involved in a dangerous scheme.  Celestino loses his immigration status because of a young love affair, and is forced to alter his path from higher education to labor.  Ira, and his partner Andrew, work through their own relationship issues, which are overlaid by a campaign against Ira at his previous employer to have him ousted because of his sexuality.  Darling's two daughters, their relationship with Percy and with each other, also add the realistic touch of sibling relationships. 

Glass is a wonderful writer.  Her novel Three Junes won the 2002 National Book Award for Fiction.   She has also written The Whole World Over and I See You Everywhere (which won the Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Books Award).  The Widower's Tale was published by Pantheon Books in 2010. 

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