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Every Last Cuckoo

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,676 ratings  ·  359 reviews
"Kate Maloy's remarkable heroine [is] a woman so passionate, so intelligent, and so full of life that most readers will quickly forget that she happens to be in her seventies. This is a wonderful debut." —Margot Livesey, author of The Missing World

Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company
Paperback, 304 pages
Published May 12th 2009 by Algonquin Books (first published January 22nd 2008)
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Average rating 3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,676 ratings  ·  359 reviews

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Fiction debut, not perfect, but with potential

The Hook 2016 Reading Plan – bookWomen, Vol.16, No.2, Dec.2011-Jan.2012 Pg.4, Recommendation of Josephine Schiff.
The appeal was the promise of woman in her seventies finding a new life after the death of her husband.

The Line ”Her memories were beads jumbled loose in a box, unstrung.” pg.6

The SinkerEvery Last Cuckoo won the American Library Association Reading List Award for Best Adult Genre (Women’s) Fiction.

Seventy-five year old Sarah Lucas, fin
Jul 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Pulled this one off the shelf at home as a palate-cleanser after "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and it did nicely as such (in that it had no torture scenes). How refreshing/fascinating/unusual to have a 75 year-old female protagonist--and how sad that this is remarkable. It's about Sarah, who fills her Vermont farmhouse home with a variety of boarders after the death of her beloved husband, Charles, because she has fond memories of her parents doing the same thing during the Great Depression. The ...more
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Yolanda by: Relyn
Shelves: read-in-2010
I loved this book.Thanks so much Relyn for recommending it.
This book drew me in for the start and kept me interested. It really spoke to my heart at where I am in my life right now.
I think that I very closely identified with Sarah the main character in that I am finally at 46 comfortable in my own skin and at a point where I am not obcessed with being wealthy,keeping up with the Jones or having the perfect house. I am content to just enjoy life and each day that comes.

I think that this books spe
Jan 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In an American fictional tradition that rarely addresses the elderly on any significant level, Oregon writer Kate Maloy's debut novel stands out with a 75-year-old woman as its centerpiece.

In Every Last Cuckoo, Sarah Lucas lives a peaceful, pleasant life with her naturalist husband Charles in rural Vermont. They spend their twilight years puttering around the surrounding woods and eating meals with family and friends. In these opening chapters, Maloy skillfully layers details of the couple's hi
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up from off the shelf because of the colorful cover (yes, I judge that way) and because it was one of NPR's featured books in their "Chapter a Day" series.

From the first page I enjoyed Maloy's style of writing, and I loved Sarah, the main character. It was refreshing to read a story that came from the point of view of a 70-something who was going through a major shift in her life. The love between Sarah & Charles, the larger family dynamics, and the beautiful and p
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful novel! There should be more novels about older people. I've read some good ones. (This one reminds me of Wallace Stegner's wonderful Crossing to Safety, with its focus on the strong relationship of an elderly couple.) Here, we're told the story of one year in the life of a 75-year-old woman who lives in rural Vermont--an amazing character--and her relationships with family & friends. She learns (or relearns) that to love is to live with loss, but chooses to love anyway (which so ...more
Mar 13, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chocolate & Croissants

As I sit here to write my review about Every Last Cuckoo, I have one question. How did this book manage to sit on my shelf for so long? Look at how gorgeous the cover is. Based on the cover alone, I should have pulled it off my shelf months ago. It probably sat on my shelf for about 7 months. Which I suppose is not that long. I own books that have been sitting for years unmoved. Unbelievable I know.

When you look at the cover what does it say to you. Home, comfort, a little eclectic. It almost re
Jul 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the more beautiful books I've read in quite awhile.

Sarah, an elderly woman who's just lost her husband, is keenly feeling her age and what she perceives as being "useless" now. But life throws at her an abundance of those who suddenly "need" her in different ways.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the fully-developed character of Sarah. And the writing was gorgeous. It didn't trivialize nor romanticize the life of an elderly woman-- rather it showed her as a "whol
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women everywhere
Recommended to Relyn by: Elizabeth Berg
Oh. I liked this book. I really, really liked this book. I marked it five stars, but you know how picky I try to be with my five stars. This one is a four and a half star by my record keeping. Anyway.

I read about this book on Elizabeth Berg's blog. She discovered it and really enjoyed it. Me, too. It took my breath away, actually. Jeffrey asked me what it was about and I had a hard time answering. I finally said something like this: It's about a long, long marriage. About widowhood. About life
Pauline Tilbe
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know what to expect but the title intrigued me and the blurb sounded like something I'd like. Plus I loved the cover. I really enjoyed the characters in this book, the setting in Vermont and the descriptions made me feel like I was right there with them in the story. Sarah reveals her present and little bits of her past through the this story. Her ups and downs. I love how she came to acknowledge her faults and even how she resolved differences.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I'm so
Kat Walter
Flat and lifeless...unlike the beautiful, inviting and colorful cover. Characters never came alive for me.
Marnie Kaplan
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It inspired me, made me realize it’s never too late to try new things, to discover a new part of yourself, to set out to create a larger family. Who would have thought a book about a 75 year old widow would be so engaging, informative and compelling? I guess the truth is we don't have to read about people who are like us. We learn the most from stepping inside the mindset of those who are different from us.

Seventy-five year old Sarah Lucas is in mourning over the love of her l
Lezlee Hays
I can't figure out if I just wasn't in the mood for this type of book or if it just seriously annoyed the heck out of me because it was written in such a way as to seriously annoy the heck out of me. First off, I was just bored nearly to tears until about 150 pages into the book - and I'm willing to wade through that if there's going to be some kind of pay off. But for me - there just never really was. Every time I thought I figured out where there was going to be an interesting plot line...ther ...more
If you’re looking for a fast paced, tightly plotted reading experience, perhaps you should pass on Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy. If, however, you delight in meeting characters that draw you in to a very special time and place, then by all means join the cuckoos in the warblers’ nest.

Sarah Lucas is a character who will live with me for some time. How often, of late, have I looked in the mirror and wondered just who that person staring back at me could be? How often, of late, have memories cro
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always loved the "and they lived happily ever after", but after having children of my own I started to look for something a little bit more. Thgere is so much of life left after the start of the "happily ever after". This book main charachter is 75 and I enjoyed her story. The prose was excellent and thought provoking, there were many passages throughout the book that were poignant in their simplicity and beautifully written. There were also passages I could have lived without, do I really ...more
Jun 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Book club book. Other women liked it, but I thought the dialog was stilted and the characterization flat. Also, some of the language didn't work for me at all. (Spewing water "through the dam of her teeth" made me do a double-take.)

Overall, had a very Hallmark-movie-of-the-week feel to it, where nice people do nice things in a nice way. It's sort of like what I imagine the Mitford series is, only for non-religious people. Old people smoking pot and solving every problem through (unbelievable) di
Deborah Klein
The theme is an important one - the life and marriage of an elderly couple, and how one goes on w/o the other. But the story is ridiculous. All wounds are healed, all broken relationships are mended, a group of disparate people live together in magical harmony, everyone is wise. In addition, the vistas are beautiful, the homes are gorgeous, warm and welcoming, the food delicious etc. Beyond the theme, it is a tea party of a book. I would have welcomed a book dealing wth the real issues of an eld ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At 72 it was nice to read a book where the main character was closer to my age. It deals with the reality of loss and the ability to carry on with the support of family and friends. It is a multigenerational story--no lives are perfect--everyone has their own baggage. I would have liked to know more about Angelo. A great first novel.
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Life's too short not to embrace it. Why does it often take tragic situations to truly feel this way? ...more
Oct 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reviewed on my blog in 2010:

It's been over two years since I first heard about Maloy's debut novel. Marcia (of Owl's Feathers) posted an enticing review which, along with the gorgeous cover art, whetted my appetite for a good "women's fiction" read. Eventually, I bought a copy of the book, but it wound up lingering for many, many months on one of the tables in our living room. Choosing to ignore some of the newer books I've acquired in the meantime, I snatched this one up as soon as I finished M
The Lexington Bookie
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I happened to pick up this book up out of a stack in a local Peddlar’s Mall for one dollar. The cover looked interesting, and it had the American Library Association’s Best Adult Genre Fiction seal of approval on the front. I flipped it over to the description on the back, and was surprised to note that the setting takes place in little ol’ Vermont, my home state. Moments like that- browsing for nothing in particular, casually exploring my relatively new surroundings, and still managing to find ...more
Anne Marie
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I can almost say I wish I could be the main character, Sarah, when I get older. But that’s obviously not to be. Sarah, a mature but I would definitely not use the word old that’s throughout the book, is an empty nester living with her husband, Charles, in Vermont. Land is plentiful, neighbors are friendly, and people help one another. Charles and Sarah have three grown children. Charlotte and Sarah were never close as mother and daughter, and Charlotte’s daughter, Lot ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. I've been thinking about it for several days after finishing it, not sure how to describe my feelings. What I did like was the setting and the descriptions of rural Vermont. The author skillfully recreates the sights and seasons, the scents, sounds, and details of the landscape, the flora and fauna. Another plus was the author's ability to describe a long-time marriage and healthy relationship of a couple in their 70's/80's. But the book's focus on aging,death, a ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't a fan of the way the narrative was constructed. The opening scene ends up actually taking place sometime in the middle of the story. I suppose was used to create a mystery of sorts. It seemed clunky to me and it jumped around a lot from there on. There were lots of little back story pieces that interrupted the flow of the story as well. In one part so many characters were introduced at one time that it took me a while to sort them all out. The overarching tone was kind of depressing, bu ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, fiction, arc
This is a book much stronger on character and description than on plot. The plot falls down in several places, including Sarah's too-short mourning period and the gratuitous discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the author's power of description and ability to bring the reader into the scene are tremendous. For readers looking for a tightly woven plot, I wouldn't recommend this book. But for readers looking for scenes that will draw them in and make them feel like part of the f ...more
Erik Volk
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this novel which with seriousness and humor addresses the uncomfortable reality of adult children dealing with elderly parents. Dealing with a parent with Alzheimer's myself, I could relate to the characters in a personal way. I did like that neither the parents or children were presented as perfect people and dealt with life and their situations in the best way they were capable of. Also, having in a long-term marriage, it made me contemplate how I would deal with the inevitable possi ...more
sharon mason
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely story of an interesting woman & her family.

Kate Maloy's debut novel is about an extremely in-depth look into a family's life. Their commitment towards one another, their growth, interactions and sorrows & joys. Headed by their matriarch, Sarah, after the death of her husband, Charles, Sarah must learn how to move on. This is an engrossing tale, very well-written and edited. A delight to read, five stars.
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Kate Maloy is the author of the memoir A Stone Bridge North: Reflections in a New Life. Her work has been published by,, and the Readerville Journal. She has forthcoming pieces in the Kenyon Review and two anthologies: For Keeps and Choice. She lives with her husband on the central coast of Oregon.

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“Her memories were beads jumbled loose in a box, unstrung.” 7 likes
“I believe she's blown some dust off her heart.” 2 likes
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