For reasons I think due to general busyness, this took me quite long to read--about 3 weeks--and yet that wasn't due to the book itself. This is Penne...moreFor reasons I think due to general busyness, this took me quite long to read--about 3 weeks--and yet that wasn't due to the book itself. This is Penney's first book, and I thought it was quite wonderful. Loved the well-rounded characters (especially the kick@ss protagonist, Mrs. Ross), loved the setting (I felt like I, too, was freezing outside in the cold Canadian winter), and the writing. It was just so different from other things that I've read with the 1860s small-town Canadian setting, and I was trying to figure out how all the different story lines tied in to each other. There was a definite level of foreboding and suspense as I tried to figure out what was going to happen to these characters, and the ending was most definitely bittersweet. Thoroughly unique and enjoyable--highly recommended.(less)
I do all my ratings on a sliding scale, and while this wasn't perfect, it was pretty dang close for a dude book, so I'm upping my 4.5 stars (why have...moreI do all my ratings on a sliding scale, and while this wasn't perfect, it was pretty dang close for a dude book, so I'm upping my 4.5 stars (why have I been half-starring everything lately??) I've only read 2 Tropper books, but I think he completely gets the male psyche, and when I read him, I feel like his protagonists are reflected in so many men that I've known--in my family, my friends, and my relationships. This story definitely strikes a serious tone, but Tropper is able to deftly weave together pain and humor with ease.
Doug is a 29-year old widower with a difficult, pot-smoking, acting out 15-year old stepson. His 40-year old wife, killed in a tragic accident, has been gone for more than a year, and writer Doug has been writing monthly columns for M magazine entitled "How to Talk to a Widower" (hint: never say "I'm sorry for your loss" or bring over casseroles...he doesn't want to talk about it and he knows how to buy microwave tv dinners.) Tropper includes some memorably sharp but sweet family members in the mix and allows Doug to grieve in predictable yet time-honored ways (drinking too much, making everything ALL ABOUT HIM, sleeping with inappropriate women, his inability to put away his wife's things, his forays into the ridiculous dating world) that keeps the book fast-paced and entertaining. We all know that Doug will eventually find his way back out of his grief to be among the living, and Tropper makes the journey poignant, unflinchingly honest, heartfelt, and yes, funny. Nice work.(less)