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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,331 ratings  ·  146 reviews
--The Pittsburgh Press

In his stunning new novel, bestselling novelist James A. Michener draws on his unparalleled gift for storytelling, his deep understanding of American society, and his own life experiences to illuminate the challenges of aging and the folly of youth in a Florida retirement home known as the Palms.
As the new, young dire
Paperback, 540 pages
Published October 30th 1995 by Fawcett Books (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,331 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Paula Dembeck
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Michener is known for his beautiful writing and his grand historical epics. This, his last novel is very different, written towards the end of his life when obviously there were important things on his mind.

Andy Zorn is a young disgraced obstetrician working in Chicago. We meet him as he is packing his bags and heading south. He is despondent after a nasty divorce and the realization that he can no longer afford the increased premiums for his liability insurance,the result of losing two fraudule
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I sure read this book at an interesting point in my life. At age 62 you are surely becoming aware your body is NOT keeping up with the age your mind is and you start thinking about your aging life. Also my parents and my husband's dad are still alive and issues are starting to pop up and I am clueless about how to help them or even what to do. The one thing as many in this book did was to make aging easier on your children. This was a stepping stone to aging gracefully and I will read a book on ...more
Doris Jean
Everyone should read it, not only for the enjoyment of the good story, but also to deeply think individually about our own aging and our own mortality. The author was contemplating his own failing health while he was kept alive by kidney dialysis. After doing his research and considering his own options, he decided to move into an up-scale facility in Florida. While he lived there and contemplated his own "recession" from life, he wrote this, his last book: "Recessional".

The protagonist is a law
John Rachel
Feb 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Why did I ever read James Michener? Or maybe his earlier works were more engaging. I rank this with his "The Drifters", a pathetic attempt by an out-of-touch, ivory-tower, middle-aged author at capturing the spirit of the hippie days. ...more
May 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Although it pains me I cannot award more than 3 stars for this, the final novel written by one of my favorite authors James Michener . This is a story of an up scale retirement colony and the efforts of a disgraced former medical doctor to improve profits margins . I was looking forward to enjoying a story of lives lived well as well as not as easily. I missed the grand , historical in depth characters and plot that I experienced in other JM books Several stories develop stemming from the variou ...more
Teresa Hall
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have had this book around for many years, yet when I picked it up this week, I sped through it.

I love James Mitchener, although in general I have to be in the mood to tackle one of his sweeping tomes. Recessional was different. It is a tighter story than his general sweeping tale of a place (think Tales of the South Pacific or Hawaii). The story of a doctor running from his profession due to lawsuits and high insurance premiums, it becomes a panorama of an upscale Florida retirement community.
Wilma Eichler
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A novel by one of my favorite authors. Not sure how I missed this book. 4 stars only because parts are dated, but the gist of the book makes me wonder if it had any part in the decisions he made in his own life. When I was working as a dialysis nurse, it was reported that James Michener, then in his 90's, was in renal failure and was receiving dialysis. I read that he did not want to continue his life in this manner so got his affairs in order, then stopped his dialysis, dying about 2 weeks late ...more
Mike Adamchuk
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2003, fiction, novel
Michener takes on the elder industry with a story about several people in various stages of the later life. He follows them in an assisted living facility as they contemplate and discuss elder care, lawyers, right to life, hospitals and illness. The story is both heartwarming and sad.
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I think Michener wrote these enormous books so he could write essays on modern problems. This is no exception, but it was still an excellent book. The setting is a retirement home near Tampa in 1993. The mostly wealthy residents' discussion of the state of health care could have been plucked from today's conversations. The compassionate treatment of AIDS and Alzheimer's patients and euthanasia were discussed at length. Michener is ambivalent about the morality of euthanasia, but sees l ...more
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nicole by: Joan J.
This is the first Michener book I've ever read, and I really liked it. Reading about the day-to-day life and workings of an assisted living facility was very interesting. I will definitely read other Michener books in the future based on how much I liked this one. ...more
Sharon Nale
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book I’ve read in many many years. Depicts life in a retirement home in Florida, a special retirement home in which most of the residents are highly intelligent professional people. Main character is Andy, a medical doctor who has left the profession due to some litigious events that soured him on the profession, who is hired to manage The Palm. What makes this book so rewarding to me is (1) I am in that age group, many of whom who have taken up residence in retirement homes. Though I m ...more
H. Schussman
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've always been a fan of Michener's, but this one certainly doesn't fit his typical historical epic tales. I found it to be dated to some degree, but that's to be expected. A lot of what he grapples with is now old news... Aides, euthanasia, etc. We have developed ways of coping with them in new ways that make this novel seem archaic at times.

That being said, the process of aging in this type of setting is still very modern and relevant. I've worked in assisted-living and skilled nursing for th
Mar 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book was published in 1994. It takes on a number of ethical issues that were relatively new to the country at the time: AIDS, euthanasia, living wills, and elder abuse, among others. Since they are no longer new topics these days, it's hard to decide how I'd have felt about the book if I'd read it then. Now, it seems rather dated. Also dated is Michener's casual use of the word "retarded" ("But only a retarded reader would have failed to understand ...", p. 165).

But my main complaint with t
I read this book back in the mid-nineties and was surprised when it was published because my favorite author at that time was nearing ninety and living in a Tampa area nursing home. I recall much of this because I was living very close to this location on the causeway between Tampa and Clearwater. This was not his last publication, but it was, appropriately his last novel. This epic also was not Michener's most entertaining effort, but it was insightful and thoughtful and gave a realistic look i ...more
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have read many of Michener's books. In fact, the book that turned me on to reading was The Source. I would say he is near the top of my favorite writers list. This book is no exception. I read it in spurts, putting it down for other more adventurous stories, and then picking it up again. As with Michener's other works, this one seemed slow at first, but as I continued reading, I found some striking characters. More importantly to me, however were the touching and profound insights into people ...more
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Worth the read. Looking at several serious dilemmas.
Susan Morrissey
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My dear friend Florence recommended this book to me. Florence is 89yo and read this book many years ago. It was a sweet story about the lives of different elderly people who opted to live out their lives in a retirement community. This was my first James Michener book.
Dave Jones
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
I found many parallels in this book with my own life, as my father is medical director at an assisted living facility. I believe this is the first Michener work I've ever read, though I've had many of them close at hand for years. Texas, Hawaii, Alaska and others would have been more likely to have been my first Michener picks, but I was not dis-satisfied that fate allowed Recessional to be my introduction to the works of James Michener.

Recessional is James Michener's last novel and it seems obv
Apr 08, 2013 rated it liked it
On first glance,even a Michener book on the American health care system,via an expensive 'nursing home'doesn't look like a page turner.However with his skill and peerless research it turns into a very human and involving story.The centrepiece of the book is mortality,and how the government (most governments)dictate how we all meet our end,if we end up 'institutionalised' in the system.Michener is very balanced,but in the end sways very much toward Euthanasia,in my opinion.As for narrative,his ch ...more
Wilma Eichler
Vintage Michener

A novel by one of my favorite authors. Not sure how I missed this book. 4 stars only because parts are dated, but the gist of the book makes me wonder if it had any part in the decisions he made in his own life. When I was working as a dialysis nurse, it was reported that James Michener, then in his 90's, was in renal failure and was receiving dialysis. I read that he did not want to continue his life in this manner so got his affairs in order, then stopped his dialysis, dying ab
Nov 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
For those of us who wonder what a retirement facility is, this is a definitive explanation (expose?). This one is set in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, and has three sections: (A) Fully ambulatory (can drive, etc.), in a full apartment, with an option to eat one meal per day in a communal dining room; (B) Assisted living (needs some help); (C) "Health Center" (bedridden/hospice). It focuses on a new director, who is a very likable doctor from Illinois but cannot practice in Florida. Included a ...more
Apr 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
The characters in this book were all really appealing, and I really liked the retirement community setting. There were a lot of interesting story lines, as well. But I have to say, quite a bit of the dialogue was pretty strange and unnatural. A few other things seemed unrealistic, such as the fact that the main character in the book, a doctor, didn't really know about AIDS and Alzheimer's Disease before working at The Palms. Ok, I know that in the 90s (and still today) we knew very little about ...more
finally! im done reading this book. and i must say, its beyond good reads... its a must read... very profound. very inspiring. very good! amazing! captivating! the characters were charming and lovable. i love the tertulias, andy zorn, betsy, the mallory's, mr.muley dugan and his wife who has alzheimers, nora varney, ken krenek, reverend quade, berta umlauf and almost everyone... i just dislike mr. hasslebrook... hehe... mr. michener approached death with ease but with a big impact to the heart o ...more
Grandma Mush
Jul 01, 2014 rated it liked it
A good read and very timely for me. Friends are moving into a retirement home and I have a home in a senior community. This book encompasses situation from both places because it deals with the residents and new director of a large retirement complex. There was just enough story line to keep it like a novel rather than a documentary but I do think the ending was unsatisfactory. Too many people were killed off. Now I know in communities like these people die but these were often unusual deaths. T ...more
Oct 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone who is over 40 or has parents over 60.
James Michener outdid himself this time. Unlike some of his epic length novels, which I have difficulty finishing because of time constraints, this one is more managable at about 500 pgs. The story is very captivating and the characters have a broad range of qualities that make them very believable. This is a must read.
Patricia Joynton
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
OK, perhaps Michener is not the most poetic author of all time, but this was an interesting book which covered many of the problems of aging and retirement centers. It was full of the background stories of the people in the center, as well as the story of the main character, Dr. Zorn, who was the director of the center. I think this book was well written and interesting to me.
Dave Moyer
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I haven't visited with Michener for a while and realized how much I missed his writing. This is a very solid effort about a Florida Retiremen/Health care facility, the people associated with it, and the complex medical and policy issues at the time of its writing in the early 90's. ...more
Gina Whitlock
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Michener has always been a wonderful writer and I've read most all his books. He wrote this one in 1994 when he was aging in a Tampa retirement home. It covers many subjects: AIDS, euthanasia, quality vs quantity of life years, living wills, health care for the poor vs. rich, etc. ...more
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James Albert Michener is best known for his sweeping multi-generation historical fiction sagas, usually focusing on and titled after a particular geographical region. His first novel, Tales of the South Pacific , which inspired the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Toward the end of his life, he created the Journey Prize, awarded annually for

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