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 Amazon.com 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, July 30, 2011

Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan

Emily, Alone is a touching story, a mere glimpse into the life of Emily Maxwell, 80 years old and living with her aging dog Rufus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Emily is widowed and both of her grown children live out of town. Her contact with them and her grandchildren is predictable and sometimes awkward, their visits a flurry of activity, welcome and wanted, but also a disruption to her routine. Emily resents growing older, and sympathizes with Rufus, who also is beginning to suffer symptoms of advancing age.

Emily has a routine she prefers. She likes to relax in the evenings with classical music and a glass of wine, takes a weekly trip to a local buffet brunch restaurant with her sister-in-law Arlene, and rotates her tissue boxes between all the rooms of the house based on use. She and Arlene attend funerals of old friends, critiquing the service and the food, all while making mental (or actual) notes for their own services.

Emily’s reflections may strike a chord with readers struggling to understand complicated relationships with family members. In one passage, Emily’s difficult relationship with her daughter Margaret comes to mind. “Margaret would still be battling her (after Emily’s death), just as, occasionally, Emily still fought with her own mother, both guiltily and, being eternally wronged, self-righteously. Though everything faded, nothing was ever done.”

Emily considered her life through her photographs, realizing how much thing change as the years passed—including hair and clothing styles—but also how perspective gives one wisdom. How “she wished she could go back and apologize to those closest to her, explain that she understood now.” These reflections, these lessons learned, will serve the reader well.

Emily, Alone is moving, funny, and inspiring. It is the sequel to Wish You Were Here, but it's not necessary to read these books in order.  Emily, Alone stands on its own merits.  It was published in 2011 by Viking, and due in paperback this December.

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