The Widower's Tale: A Novel

1 "Why, thank you. I'm getting in shape to die. Those were the rst words I spoke aloud on the nal Thursday in August of last summer: Thursday, I recall for certain, because it was the day on which I read in our weekly town paper about the rst of what I would so blithely come to call the Crusades; the end of the month, I can also say for certain, because Elves & Fairies was scheduled, that very evening, to ing open its brand-new, gloriously purple doors formerly the entrance to my beloved barnand usher in another ight of tiny perfect children, along with their preened and privileged parents. I was on the return stretch of my route du jour, the sun just gaining a vista over the trees, when a youngster who lives half a mile down my street gave me a thumbs-up and drawled, Use it or lose it, man! I might have ignored his insolence had he been pruning a hedge or fetching the newspaper, but he appeared merely to be loungingand smoking a cigaretteon his parents' hyperfastidiously weed-free lawn. He wore tattered trousers a foot too long and the smile of a bartender who wishes to convey that you've had one too many libations. I stopped, jogging in place, and elaborated on my initial remark. Because you see, lad, I informed him, hufng rhythmically though still in control, I have it on commendable authority that dying is hard work, requiring diligence, stamina, and fortitude. Which I intend to maintain in ample supply until the moment of truth arrives. And this was no lie: three months before, at my daughter's Memorial Day cookout, I'd overheard one of her colleagues conde to another, in solemn Hippocratic tones, Maternity nurses love to talk about how hard it is to be born, how it's anything but passive. They explain to all these New Age moms that babies come out exhausted from the work they do, how they literally muscle their way toward the light. Well, if you ask me, dying's the same. It's hard work, too. The nal stretch is a marathon. I've seen patients try to die but fail. Just one more thing they didn't bother to tell us in med school. (Creepy, this talk of muscling one's way toward the dark. Though I did enjoy the concept of all those babies toiling away, lives on the line, like ancient Roman tunnel workers, determined to complete their passage.) As for the youngster with trousers slouched around his bony ankles, my homily had its intended effect. When I nished, he hadn't a syllable at his service; not even the knee-jerk Whatever that members of his generation mutter when conversationally cornered. As I went on my way, energized by vindication, I had a dim notion that the youngster's name was Damien. Or Darius. I put him at fteen, the nadir point of youth. Had he been a boy of his age some twenty years ago, I would have known his name without a second thought, not just because I would have known his parents but because in all likelihood he would have mowed my lawn or painted my barn (gratefully!) for an hourly wage appropria

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By Nette (Torrance, CA) · ★☆☆☆☆ · September 25, 2010
I'm very bitter about this book: it got rave reviews for its touching character studies and perceptive social commentary, so I bought it and waited for a pleasant Friday evening to start reading. I made it through about six chapters and gave up, and I was PISSED. The main character is a 70-year-o... ...more
By Jeff (Denver, CO) · ★★★★☆ · December 27, 2010
Glass is, quite simply, a wonderful writer, and her newest book “The Widower’s Tale” is a fantastic addition to her growing canon. In her elegant and intelligent, yet breezy and accessible prose, the author tells a multi-layered family story that centers around a seventy year old retired libraria... ...more
By Gerry (Federal Way, WA) · ★★★★★ · October 17, 2011
How I came to read this is kind of a funny story that isn't about the book at all.
It was one of those days, when I needed a book. I went out to the choice reads shelf and found one that looked interesting but didn't pick it up. It was one of my typical quick-mystery books.
When I didn't find anyth... ...more
By Deb (Bethlehem, PA) · ★★★★★ · May 23, 2011
The Widower's Tale is one of those books I closed wistfully, sad to say goodbye to all my new friends. The ensemble cast is headed by Percival Darling, a 70-year-old retired librarian from Harvard, and the widower of the title. At the start of the novel, he is confronted by drastic change in his... ...more
By Kris (The United States) · ★☆☆☆☆ · November 01, 2011
If you want to read a book that covers every political, environmental and social issue of the day then this is the book for you. Definitely my pet peeve when reading a book is to have the author use her characters to cram her political views down your throat. This book had everything from eco-ter... ...more
By Nancy (The United States) · ★★★★★ · January 23, 2011
When my eyes scanned the first paragraph and lingered on, "...I read in our weekly town paper about the first of what I would so blithely come to call the Crusades....I can also say for certain, Because Elves & Fairies were scheduled.... " I began to question having hastily grabbed this book... ...more