The Grief of Others
Is keeping a secret from a spouse always an act of infidelity? And what cost does such a secret exact on a family?
The Ryries have suffered a loss: the death of a baby just fifty-seven hours after his birth. Without words to express their grief, the parents, John and Ricky, try to return to their previous lives. Struggling to regain a semblance of normalcy for themselv
The writing is, indeed, beautiful. The story opens with Ricky Ryrie in a hospital bed, holding her newborn son who is fated to die within the next few hours. “The whorls of his ears were as marvelously convoluted as any Echer drawing, the symmetry precise, the lobs little as teardrop ...more
It's a story of grief - over the loss of a child, the chill in a marriage, and how the surviving children are affected. Ms. Cohen writes so gently and, at the same time, is strong and even cold-blooded in her dissection of the characters.
We meet the mother in the maternity ward as she holds her newborn son who is doomed to live only a few days. Born anen ...more
The voice of 10-year-old Biscuit is wron ...more
This novel is about a famil ...more
It starts out with a heart-breaking description of the short life (57 hours) of Simon Ryrie, who is born without a brain stem. So you think maybe the hard par ...more
The story opens with the death of a baby, after just 57 hours of fragile life, and deals with the events, feelings, guilt and recriminations of his family in the time leading up to and following his death. Ricky, his mo ...more
He was a he, too, astonishingly--not that anyone expected him to be otherwise, but the notion of one so elemental, so small, carrying the complex mantle of gender seemed preposterous, the designation "male" the linguistic equivalent of a false mustache fixed above his infant lip.
His lips, how barely pink they were, the pink of the rim of the sky at winter dusk. And their curl--in the way that the upper lip rose to peaks and dipped down again, tw ...more
I loved this book.
I was blown away by Cohen's writing, every word seemed to pull me in. Her prose is beautiful.
And I found the characters to be intricate yet so down to earth and relatable. I was really impressed by how the story went on, it looked like they were writing it and living it at the moment.
I had no expectations about this book. I picked it up at the library and read the back cover, it seemed ok, the kind of plot I like, etcetera.
Instead, it was so much mor ...more
It ends with a Greek-chorus like musing, which seemed too much like my students' conclusions: I have to wrap this up and so here it is.
Unfortunately, what starts out as poignant ...more
The Ryries live outside of New York City in a pleasant neighborhood and have two children. John also has an elder daughter from a relationship in college and the Ryries have ju ...more
When their third child is born anencephalic, his death is a certainty. In fact, he lives for fifty-seven hours.
Then the family shifts into everyday life, with scarcely a blink, and their separate grief unfolds in symptomatic ways that reveal the testing of the bonds that connect them.
"The Grief of Others" is narrated in alternating perspectives, moving ...more
I started reading this earlier this week and I almost emailed Trisha to say I couldn’t handle this, right now. I’m glad that I pushed on, though because, aside from the obvious hard topics (hello, it’s called The GRIEF of Others), the story is a fabulous one.
The hardest part for me was the axis of the story, centered on the loss of a couple’s child only fifty-seven hours after birth, just struck so close to my current fear and personal situation. The death ...more
The book begins with a beautifully written passage on the birth and death of a baby. It flashes forward a year to "This Year", and then back to the time of the baby's short life, "Last Year" and back again to "This Year." We get a good picture of what has been happening with the family.
When Ricky Ryr ...more
Bottom line is that I'm enjoying this novel because I like the characters and want to know what happened to them. That’s why we enjoy any novel, right?
That said—and I need to emphasize this: I like the book, I'm enjoying the book, I’m glad I'm reading it—-I feel the need to quibble just a little. The book feels a bit longish at places. Just a bit. And also: Cohen sometimes makes her characters unrealistically self-aware. For example: “[Ricky had] been angry ...more
I think Cohen realized that her core story lacked excitement ...more
I am LOVING this book, which I discovered in Amazon's list of "Recommended for You." I think Cohen's writing is stunning, and her characters are interesting and nuanced. And the first chapter just killed me. It is about a mother and her newborn, who was born with a fatal brain defect and lived for just two days. Beautifully written.
Update: My early impressions of the book were accurate. This book is amazing -- exactly the kind of ...more
Hager Cohen is your classic 3.5 star writer. Her language is beautiful, her plots lagging. Her characters are well sketched, yet not that interesting. You feel as though you are reading a classic, except it doesn't actually contain that much.
I enjoyed this book well enough - it was an insightful and actually interesting look at a conflict where a wife finds out her unborn child will have a horrible and fatal defect and she decides not to tell her husband lest he insist she abort - I think thi ...more
I felt manipulated by the closing chapter. In it, the author for the first time addresses the reader with "What else do you want to know?" as if we were nothing but voyeurs along for the ride. She turns the mirror on us, and we're given a laundry list of mundane events among strangers, which is re ...more
The first chapter is positively heartbreaking and gripping though I do think this story meandered some in the middle, which is why I didn’t rate it high ...more
She serves as the Jenks Chair in Contemporary American Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Lesley University. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Tim ...more