Bridget's Reviews > The Widower's Tale

The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
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Nov 20, 11

bookshelves: 2011-reads
Read in November, 2011

I had an Advanced Readers' Copy of this book, but had not even thought to read it until last week. I don't really have a specific reason, it just didn't mesh with my radar when I'd look for something. But for some reason, I decided it was finally time.

This is the story of Percival (Percy) Darling, who has been a widower for some time as the book opens. Retired from his job as a librarian at the Widener Library at Harvard, he is quite content to be living alone, quietly, and privately. Well, that's about to change, since the barn on his property has been converted into a preschool, meaning children, parents, and the accompanying challenges are now right at his back door.

Percy is an odd duck, and he gets along better with his oldest grandson than with either of his grown daughters. Each person in the book, from relatively minor to major characters, has a life crisis/change/challenge at some point, which changes their relationship with each other and with Percy.

I found the story pretty interesting, though I think Percy was kind of a pain. Being a librarian, I have met other ones like him, that feel they are smarter than everyone else, just by virtue of the fact where they are employed. His family consisted of not necessarily unique types, but each one had their own appeal as well as their own faults.

One part that annoyed me was Percy's younger lady friend, Sarah. Of course, they gave her breast cancer, and it was made more tragic by the fact that she had a young son. Not that the same situation doesn't happen every day in real life. But it seems that fiction is filled with women who have breast cancer, as opposed to heart disease, or even any other kind of cancer. Seldom does it make the book any better, in my opinion, and it just seems manipulative. This could be, of course, because of how I feel about the way many people react to breast cancer, but still it seems that if there's a woman in the story - and particularly if she is a mother - then she is gonna get breast cancer. Kind of like a dog in a horror movie - you know it's just a matter of time until the dog gets killed.

Overall, the book was well-written and it was interesting enough. I didn't really get too emotionally invested in any of the characters, but at the same time, they seemed much like people you may come across on any given day.
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