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Exit Lines

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  184 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
The Idyll Inn, the setting for Joan Barfoot’s brilliant eleventh novel, Exit Lines, is a pastel-hued care facility designed for seniors “with healthy incomes but varying hopes, despairs, abilities and deformities.” In scathing detail, Barfoot describes the Idyll Inn’s plastic plants, inoffensive art and pallid recreational activities, all familiar to any reader who has had ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by Knopf Canada (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mar 23, 2009 Nellie rated it it was ok
It started out good with a varied assortment people entering a retirement home and how they adapt and now are getting into aging and the end of life issues. The character development is good but I am found that it dragged a bit into the second third of the book and I found it difficult to finish.
Feb 02, 2017 Cheryl rated it liked it
I loved this darkly comic novel about four residents in a newly constructed retirement home. Although it seems at first that the four residents have little in common, it quickly turns out that they are all connected in some way. The author lives in London Ontario, and I read this book in preparation to hearing her speak tomorrow.
Oct 24, 2008 Darlene rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Steven Langdon
Jul 24, 2011 Steven Langdon rated it liked it
Joan Barfoot has taken her immense talents in a curiously morbid direction recently. In her last novel, "Luck," the action revolved around a funeral parlour after one main character woke up to find her husband dead beside her. In this novel, the focus is on a foursome of aging inhabitants of a retirement home who form a supportive friendship that one woman then draws into her elaborate plan to kill herself on her 75th birthday. Needless to say, this sets off much contemplation of the inevitabili ...more
May 21, 2012 Liesbeth rated it liked it
Not an easy subject to tackle, 4 different characters in a nursing home, all with their own pasts.
It makes for different reading, for which I commend Barfoot
However,I struggled somewhat with this book.
At times the writing style was hard to get through, the characters also are somewhat confusing ( and confused!)
The plot, as such, was ok, but a few lose ends remained.

Feb 23, 2017 Theja rated it really liked it
A subject that may have put me off kept me entranced. The characters were well portrayed and the story drifted smoothly from chapter to chapter.
Held my attention throughout. The end was an anticlimax. Yet, one of the best books I have read lately.
Jun 02, 2012 Anita rated it really liked it
This novel is set in a rather exclusive retirement home (very specifically not a nursing home) in a non-specified small town in Canada. The brand shiny new Idyll Inn opens its doors and welcomes its new residents followed by their rag tag assortment of family members and moving teams. There’s well to do Chairlady of every charity board in town, wife of lawyer Sylvia who moves herself in unaided by, indeed without telling her only daughter Nancy. She demands a room with a view and a balcony and i ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Joannie rated it really liked it
A dark comic novel of four friends in a retirement home, pondering topics of life, death, family, children, sex...essentially their past lives and how they relate to one another. A surprise twist when the age-old euthanasia debate comes up and the toughest form test of friendship is put to the test. Favourite quote on life/death/rainbows: “Sometimes I see shapes and colours that I know aren’t really there. I think that’s just because of a new drug my doctor is trying, but in a way it’s also how ...more
Feb 08, 2011 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd give this enjoyable read a 3.5 star rating actually. Life in a newly opened retirement home brings 4 people together into a close-knit friendship. The story features each one of the four---their childhood, marriages, careers (all the external trappings and accomplishments of a full life) but then shifts deeper into their internal dialogue about their relationships with their adult children, their views about their failing bodies, their beliefs and ethics, the good and the bad in the world, t ...more
Jan 26, 2013 Julia rated it liked it
The idea behind the book is great, some of the writing was very compelling, but unfortunately the characters tended to be stereotypes rather than real people. The struggling immigrant woman, the social worker who never had children and has been crippled by the past (both her's and her family history) the socialite with the sharp tongue... the story could have been so much richer but ultimately she did not get "deep enough" with the characters. Also I found the ending unsatisfying, not because "n ...more
Carolyn James
Dec 04, 2014 Carolyn James rated it it was ok
Shelves: skip-reading
This book made literally zero impact on my life and will soon be forgotten. Exit Lines is an anticlimactic tale of four individuals in a nursing style home who reminisce on their younger years while trying to convince Ruth, the most healthiest one, not to kill herself. Ruth remains firm on the decision that the world sucks and begs her new friends to help her end her life. That's about it. This is probably one of my shortest reviews I've written because I was just so, incredibly bored by it all. ...more
Kari Mcarthur Stevenson
Life, aging, friendship, hope...thought provoking and a bit macabre but an okay read. Lots of my peers are dealing with parent care, faced with their elders' health issues, relocation into care homes so this was interesting from the point of view of the elderly. They have had full lives, jobs, families, affairs and have to face the limits and sometimes humiliations imposed upon them by health, circumstance and caregivers. Doesn't matter how close we are to facing our mortality, until the end we ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Suze rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, truly deserving of the word “romp” through the lives of four octogenarians. Barfoot’s writing is wise and wry as she ponders life’s big questions with wit. We see characters who are fleshed out, passionate people behind the old-age camouflage of invisibility. I laughed and commiserated as Barfoot explored the loss of dignity and autonomy in old age, and gained insight into what makes life worth living. A jewel of a book. If you’re over 60, read this … and see where you’re head ...more
Janet Carkner
Sep 01, 2013 Janet Carkner rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and was surprised to see that others didn't! Maybe it is my age (58) and the fact that my mother has been in a couple of retirement homes for respite, and an elderly aunt and uncle live in one. I thought the book was very funny and a bit sad, and I had to stop now and then to think about what I had just read, and consider my own perspectives of aging and my (and my mother's) future.
May 10, 2009 Rosemary rated it liked it
This took place in a new retirement home. Four people connect. One doesn't want to continue beyond a certain point in her life. The book is concerned with friendships, relationships with adult children, aging. It is a tad too close to the bone for me personally, but it is interesting.
Jan 10, 2016 Barry rated it really liked it
Examines death, suicide, sex, old age, marriage with humour and compassion. Not much of a story but interesting characters and sometimes wonderful use of language.

Yarn: **
Character development: ****
Language: ****
Bonus (opinions): ****
Luce Cronin
Feb 28, 2016 Luce Cronin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great books! Written in the usual Barfoot style, this book made me laugh, and also made me realize a lot about the elderly. This is a book that has opened my eyes and will change my way of thinking and approach to life.
May 16, 2011 Allison rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, canadian
She really doesn't sugarcoat the realities of aging. A nice, unassuming, steals-up-on you story. Also one of those books that makes me wonder if people I know are cheating on their spouses since, if literature is to be believed, it's happening a lot more than I realize.
Nov 05, 2008 Marilyn rated it liked it
Black comedy about what happens when some of the "clients" of an upscale seniors' residence decide to take things into their own hands. Started well but dragged a bit towards the end.
Shandi Leonard
Aug 06, 2016 Shandi Leonard rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story of growing up experiences, sectors and life! I love the characters...especially the main 4. This book is a must read
Apr 19, 2012 Sue added it
I didn't read the whole thing...I found it far too depressing. I guess I have not come to terms with the whole aging thing
Jan 02, 2011 Lori added it
Follows 4 people in an old age home. Learned to keep up your zest for life while faces the challenges of aging.
Nov 05, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
Really enjoyed this book about life and getting older. Decisions, non-decisions, bad things, good things, a few unspoken truths, all creating meaning in our lives.
May 07, 2014 Mar rated it liked it
2.5. it was okay. a bunch of seniors in the retirement home bond over their desire to stay in control.
Renate Simone
Apr 05, 2009 Renate Simone rated it it was ok
A group of people moving into a new retirement home discover past connections, contemplate life and hatch a plot. It sounded intriguing, but I found it boring and hard to get through.
Sep 05, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This novel is set in a seniors home. It is a thoughtful, honest book about human inter-connectivity and longevity. I really enjoyed the story and the characters Barfoot created.
Sep 18, 2009 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF - I found I had to keep going back and re-reading so much of this book to make sense of it that I gave up. The story was fine but the style was awful.
Aug 12, 2010 Kiley rated it really liked it
I loved the voice in this book and the dark humour had me cackling aloud several times. Comedy and drama perfectly entwined; deep insights imparted with a light, sure hand.
Heather rated it liked it
Sep 02, 2012
Rosalie rated it liked it
Feb 24, 2014
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Joan Barfoot is an award-winning novelist whose work has been compared internationally with that of Anne Tyler, Carol Shields, Margaret Drabble and Margaret Atwood. Her novels include Luck in 2005, nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, as well as Abra, which won the Books in Canada first novels award, Dancing in the Dark, which became an award-winning Canadian entry in the Cannes and Toronto ...more
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