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Henry, Himself

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  23 reviews
A member of the greatest generation looks back on the loves and losses of his past and comes to treasure the present anew in this poignant and thoughtful new novel from a modern master

Stewart O’Nan is renowned for illuminating the unexpected grace of everyday life and the resilience of ordinary people with humor, intelligence, and compassion. In this prequel to the beloved
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Penguin
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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  60 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

Thank you to Viking / Penguin Publishing Group who provided an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.

This is a quiet, plodding account of a retired 75 year old Pittsburgh native. During his life Henry Maxwell's been an altar boy, military veteran, engineer, husband, father and grandfather. Though retired, Henry fills up his day with seemingly endless household projects (he's very handy), volunteering at church, shopping, walking the dog, playing golf, and enjoying the occasional adult bever
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In Stewart O'Nan's novels, 'Wish You Were Here' and 'Emily, Alone', readers were introduced to the Maxwell family; that is, the Maxwell family minus one member.... the patriarch, Henry, who had recently passed away. In his new novel, 'Henry, Himself', Stewart O'Nan moves backward in time to the last years of the 20th century. Henry was alive and anticipating his 75th birthday and also his 49th wedding anniversary with his wife, Emily. In 'Wish You Were Here' and 'Emily, Alone', although the emph ...more
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-2019
I didn’t get it at first, the charm of this quiet novel about an aging man. It started to sink in about a quarter of the way that this ordinary man, Henry Maxwell was an American hero. Of course, not the kind that receives a “Ticker Tape Parade” up Broadway in New York City. (Yes, they’re still done, using confetti. Last one was in 2015.)

Henry represents the sort of man that was often called the backbone of this country. He fought in WWII, came home, got married and earned his degree on the GI
Diane S ☔
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Thoughts soon.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An achingly beautiful, warm, and melancholy pastoral/year-in-the-life of 75 year-old Henry who is approaching the end, though not quite there. The genius of O'Nan is that the ordinary is honored and celebrated without it ever being presented as it being more than it is.
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 well written. This author can definitely nail a boring book.
Kathleen Gray
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Talk about a prequel! O'Nan has opted to finally tell Henry's story, after telling the story of his widow Emily in two other novels. The Maxwells are well known to readers of O'Nan but if you haven't read him, this is a fine place to start. Henry is looking back over his life and his family- nothing much happens and honestly there isn't even much rumination. This is, however, a gentle read that fans will enjoy. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started HENRY HIMSELF, Henry himself seemed familiar and then I realized that I had already met Henry and his family, the Maxwells in Stewart O'Nan's other 2 books about them. O'Nan makes the family memorable and compelling although nothing especially spectacular happens in their Pittsburgh home or Lake Chautauqua summer cottage.
(I received pre-publication access thanks to NetGalley.)
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having lived in Pittsburgh all of my life, I enjoyed the city references and familiarity of this book. Although I liked both of the books in this series better, I enjoyed this one as well. It’s rare to find a book that deals with aging in such an honest way, especially with a male main character. The reality of loss of purpose and independence as we age were very realistic. And the over looming reality that time is finite is relevant at any age. I love O’Nan’s writing, he really allows you to ge ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is a prequel to O'Nan's previous books Wish You Were Here and Emily, Alone both of which I loved for the way they examined ordinary, every day life in such a poignant way. Although this book did the same for some reason it didn't hit me in the same way. Rather than reveling in the writing and the characters as I did with the previous book I found this one rather boring. Maybe it's because I find that prequels rarely add anything to stories where you already know where the characters en ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love anything Stewart O’Nan writes. This book is no exception. Gifted ear for dialogue and I loved the Chautauqua scenes. Wonderful!!!
Apr 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Having not read this author before, I struggled finishing this. It was slooow and seemingly plotless. But that was the point. Telling Henry’s story and really getting into developing and understand him. I hung on because it was incredibly well written.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Got this book on the release date, but saved it for a week because I was reading something else and I wanted to savor every word. It did not fail; after completing it I am now reading it through a second time. I absolutely love the Emily Maxwell books. I have read Wish You Were Here and Emily, Alone several times over the past few years, enjoying the characters every time. I don't know how a male writer can get inside the head of an older woman like O'Nan does. There is so much going on with Emi ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
After picking this up from the shelf I found out that I was dipping into the middle of a series, or perhaps better said, reading a prequel to a series that I had not read. And it mattered not a whit. This is a book for idle days, for putting down and picking up rather than racing through. This is a book that makes you look at your own life and loves and wonder what it would look like to strangers. The author has a wonderful way of making even the most trivial of actions notable, and although I f ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
A prequel to two other books about Emily Maxwell (Which at this point I haven't read), this book is about Henry Maxwell, a 75 year old retired engineer living in Pittsburgh with his wife Emily and his dog Rufus. This is a book that is really about nothing, or likely about events referenced in the two Emily books, just Henry living life and reflecting on past events, but the writing style and attention to detail bring Henry and his family and the locations in Pittsburgh and Lake Chautauqua to lif ...more
J.T. Humber
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you have read Stewart O’Nan before you know exactly what to expect from this book. It’s a heartfelt character study of an everyman. This book is the third in a trilogy but it can be read independently.
O’Nan welcomes us into the life of Henry Maxwell, retired and trying to find a way to navigate this new world. To be honest, not much will happen. It’s a story about marriage, family, and aging but for me, this book was like going back in time and living a year of my grandfather’s life. The sce
Marney Cooley
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
Hard to believe that a book with no thrills, chills, suspense, or torrid romance could be so compelling. O'Nan does a wonderful job of describing life as we age, complete with daily routines, tricky relationships with grown children, frustrations and joys. Maybe because I'm in the same demographic I related more than others might. The characters are so real, if not always likeable, that I spent time comparing them to my aging relatives and long gone ones. Also, memories confronted here brought u ...more
Gail M
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was a little sad, and some of the vastly detailed descriptions, particularly golfing scenes were not compelling. An interesting study of a man nearing the end of his life and trying to make sense of it; a compilation of chores, rituals and details all cushioning his emotional distance.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing. Sweet story of memories intertwined with the present of an aging husband, father, brother, grandfather, son, soldier. Very detailed allowing the reader to truly see the whole man.
A very good read.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Sweet but too long and a little dull.
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is my favorite kind of book but sadly I did not connect and dnf...
Michelle Despres
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel
O'Nan's ability to capture multitudes in seemingly simple stories astounds me every time.
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful. Love Henry as much as Emily. O'Nan is SO good at references to EVERYTHING in that era and the stories, characters, thoughts etc so good. Wish I had time to write a decent review.
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Mar 24, 2019
Debbie Whetstone Collinge
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Apr 02, 2019
Paul Edlund
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Apr 18, 2019
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Jan 26, 2019
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Apr 04, 2019
Gemma Davis
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Dec 11, 2018
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Dec 27, 2018
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Stewart O'Nan is the author of eleven novels, including Snow Angels and A Prayer for the Dying, a story collection, and two works of nonfiction. His previous novel, Last Night at the Lobster, was a national bestseller, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was named one of the New York Public Library Books to Remember. Additionally, Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young Ameri ...more
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