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The Pleasure Was Mine

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  385 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Prate Marshbanks proposed to his future wife on a muggy July night at Pete's Drive-in back in '52. "She said yes to me between bites of a slaw burger all-the-way." A college graduate and daughter of a prominent lawyer, Irene was an unlikely match for Prate, a high school dropout. He lived his married life aware of the question on people's minds: How in the world did a tall ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I heard Tommy Hays at South Carolina Book Festival several years ago and he talked about his dad who had Alzheimer's. I bought the book as my mom was struggling with her memory. I now am my mom's caretaker. I appreciated the sensitivity that Hays used to deal with such a heartbreaking disease. I so understand about those moments of laughter and those times of tears.
Steve Lindahl
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
"The Pleasure Was Mine" is a beautiful story of Prate Marshbanks, a man dealing with his role as a caretaker. Prate's wife of many years is suffering with Alzheimer’s to the point where he has had to put her in a home. But the story isn't just about the disease. It is also about Prate's relationship with his son, Newell, and his grandson, Jackson. It is about Billie, the woman who lives next door and who was a friend of his wife. Billie must have heard many great stories about Prate, because she ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best thing I've read in forever--and it never made the best sellers. It is a beautiful story about Prate Marshbanks, an aging housepainter with jug ears, who deals with his wife's Alzheimer's on a daily basis. In fact, he says, "Every day with Alzheimer's is like a first date." In his eyes he never measured up to his tall, beautiful English teacher wife. Then in one summer while dealing with her, he has to care for a nine-year-old vegetarian grandson who talks little after the death ...more
Apr 08, 2014 added it
I am ashamed that I was sucked into this bit of silly story. If this is the best that a South Carolina fiction writer can do, then I'm ashamed for that as well. I'm also ashamed that such illustrious figures as Josephine Humphries, Walter Edgar, and Reynolds Price (oops, he's a North Carolinian, guess there are no more South Carolinians to pay off for a review...) would praise this book (altho Walter Edgar, a wonderful South Carolina historian-writer in his own right is known at least to me to p ...more
Karla VanEgmond
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was reluctant to start this book as I thought I would cry my way through it. While I did get teary in parts near the end, for the most part it was not the total downer you would expect. The account through the husband's eyes of losing his wife to Alzheimer's is poignant but not mushy. Makes you thankful for what you have and makes you think about what may come down the road. The ending was a bit anticlimactic, but maybe that says something in and of itself.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
An absolutely beautiful book. This book reminds us of what is most important and that is okay to ask for help. Wonderful!
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: alzheimer-s
Hmm... can’t say I was all that impressed with this book as the reviews on GoodReads and Amazon led me to believe I might be. It felt like I was reading a novel composed by a creative writing student who was trying to capture every single sight, sound and smell of every moment to impress the teacher. In addition, the author tried to create a folksy image by dumbing down the vocabulary of the narrator and it didn’t ring quite true. Even a non-college educated house painter knows what a fertility ...more
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tommy Hays perfectly describes the sense of sadness and loss--peppered with moments of joy and humor--as a man cares for his wife with Alzheimer's. By pairing this story with a second storyline about a grandson and son recovering from the death of their mother/wife, Hays reminds us that families dealing with Alzheimer's don't live in a vacuum and that life goes on. Although the plot somewhat predictable toward the end, the characters and settings rang true, making this a quick and pleasurable re ...more
Jill Golla
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is obvious (and confirmed on the back cover) that this writer has personal experience with someone with Alzheimer's. The "fictional" antics of Irene were so reminiscent of people I've known with Alzheimer's that I had to keep reminding myself I was reading fiction and not a memoir. He also knows a bit about how young boys behave with flashlights - on the spot. A very enjoyable story with as happy an ending as can be.
Deborah Compton
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-challenge
A gentle, thoughtful exploration of a husband and wife living with Alzheimer's and it's effects on the family. I really did not want to read this book but felt compelled to give it a try due to my book club. I was pleasantly surprised. It is straight forward, honest, sweet, and, about all hopeful. Hopeful that in the midst of such remorse and devastation, love and commitment triumphs. The author lives in my town, another reason to read the book. So glad I did.
Amy Turner
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tommy Hays was one of the teachers in the North Carolina Writers Network conference that I attended last weekend. I appreciated his ability to engage the class, even with a large group, and his gentle humor.

This book is a sweet look at a fifty-year-old marriage between a house painter and a schoolteacher who develops Alzheimers. When she can't remember the word for bed, she asks him "When are you coming to the place we lie down together."
Mary Jo
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was enchanted by this book, it was just so "real". This is another book that I am going to have to purchase for my own personal library. I could really relate to the story line as my father-in-law went through the same struggle of losing his wife (my husband's step mother) to Alzheimer's disease.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recently found this on my bookshelf from a few years ago - a very sweet story by a local author about a man whose life is changed by his young grandson after his wife is put in a nursing home for dementia.
Pam Landreneau
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a wonderful read. I loved the entire story front to cover
You just have to read
Rebekah Scott
May 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
“The Pleasure was Mine” tells the story of retired house painter Prate Marshbanks whose wife of fifty years, Irene, is slowly succumbing to the effects of Alzheimer’s. He has made the difficult decision to place Irene in an assisted living facility, and he’s dealing with the constant worry of whether she’s being properly looked after and guilt over leaving her in a home.

His son Newell, a well-respected artist, calls Prate with the news that he’s been invited to be artist-in-residence at Penland,
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Pleasure Was Mine is a quiet book. The foothills of North Carolina are not fast-paced, and the people are hard-working, tax-paying folk. While you're reading The Pleasure Was Mine, you realize that it's easy to read Hays's crisp, clear descriptions, his incredibly audible dialogue. It's easy to laugh and cry with his characters. There's no pretension here, this isn't a book about showing off a particularly quirky writing style, not about making a statement, not about introducing a new trick ...more
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was our One City, One Book selection this year. This was an engaging read. The story deals with a family coping with the early stages of Alzheimer's. At first I thought I would have to abandon it because I don't like bad news and sadness. But, the story is more about family and discovering love than about disease. One important tidbit was that the mother (the Alzheimer's patient) had always been so warm and nurturing that she had unintentionally blocked the evolution of relationships a ...more
Aug 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A little too predictable but if you are looking for a good book to read right before bed, or in the waiting room at your doctor's office, this is perfect. It is a book of an older couple, Prate and Irene; Irene has Alzheimer's and Prate has just made the decision to put her in a home, where he visits everyday, even when it becomes clear that Irene doesn't remember him much of the time. It is about this time when their son, Newell, needs to go on a retreat of some sorts and asks his father to wat ...more
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
I started this book today and am reading it for the Alamance Reads program. Every 2 years our county libraries host a book that the entire county is encouraged to read. Kick off lecture and ceremonies start on January 18th. We enjoyed the last book the county picked and enjoy participating in the events and activities hosted by all the different county libraries.

Absolutely fabulous Book! The story is so sad and sweet. It makes me want to take more time with the people and things that are most im
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This was the 2008 GSO One City One Book pick but somehow I missed it. So I am reading it now..

OK I finished it. The first 3/4ths were really pretty predictable and I did keep putting it down, but it was an easy enough read I figured I'd finish it. The last bit of the book left me holding back sobs from worry and joy. I can see why it would be selected as a book group type read. It is a enlightening look at Alzheimer's and families who are loving their way through it. I'd recommend it to someone
Stephanie Cowan
Sep 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I started 'reading' this book with dick estell on radio reader. i was content to listen to it in 30 minute segments until it was a friday and mr. estell left me with a huge cliff hanger. i went right in and bought the book and read it cover to cover that weekend. i started at the beginning to read it aloud to my husband while we were in the car on a road trip. this book was so amazing i could hardly put it down. great book for anyone who needs (or wants) a good cry. ;)
Teresa Grubbs
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, touching book by a North Carolina author. Prate Marshbanks, a housepainter, must deal with his beloved wife's struggle with Alzheimer's. After being forced to place her in a nursing home, Prate must build a new relationship with his distant son and grandson now that his wife is not there to run interference for them. They eventually develop a new closeness that helps them heal and move on together in their "new normal."
Sep 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Peg by: Stephanie Houghtlin
Prate Marshall retires to care for his ailing wife (Alzheimers) both at home and eventually in a nursing home. "to complicate things, Prate's son, Newell, a recently widowed single father asks Prate to keep 9 year old Jackson for the summer.Though Prate is irritated at first by the presence of his mody grandson, over the summer his feeling toward Jackso change as his grandson helps him Irene. .....Prate... has little choice but to get to know his family
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
A simple, lovely story about a man whose wife suffers from alzheimers, and about family reconciliation and appreciation. A very enjoyable read. I would give it a 3.5 but the stars don't allow me to do it. I think the low rating might have to do with the predictability of the story. I enjoyed the references to the mountains in South Carolina and North's always fun to recognize the names of towns and highways and other descriptions.
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I will be mentioning this book in the memoir I'm working on about my family. Alzheimer's Disease can be so devastating and it effects family and friends as well. The Pleasure Was Mine reminded me of my grandmother, what it was like to care for her, etc.

Tommy Hays breaks your heart gently, but sends your emotions to great heights as well.
Lou Hunley
May 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people in Greenville, SC
Recommended to Lou by: part of "What if all of Greenville read the same book."
You would think the story of a man with a wife with Alzheimers would be totally depressing. However, Hays droll sense of humor saves this tale from being a real downer. He portrays his wife, Irene as a lively character who continues to surprise everyone around her even as she loses ground to Alzheimers.

However, it kind of ended right in the middle-no real ending.
Amy Knight
Sep 28, 2008 rated it liked it
For the first few chapters, I feared that the book would be depressing and sad the whole way through. It ended up being a sweet story of love and the importance of companionship and family. I enjoyed the affection between the three generations of men. As someone who works in long term care, I appreciated the author mentioning that most of the people in that work are gentle and kind.
Carol Ann
Sep 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Just read this again.....four years later. These two characters could be my parents. Especially Prate. I can almost see some of the words he says coming out of my Dad's mouth. I read it in 3 hours. If you have a relative with Alzheimer's this book will make you smile, laugh and cry all at the same time.
Oct 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book dealing with the subject of Alzheimers and how it affects family and friends. I was afraid this book was going to be dark and depressing but it isn't. It deals with this horrible disease in a warm and loving way without sugarcoating the problems that come up in dealing with a loved one who has it. This book is the community wide read for Alamance county for 2011.
Apr 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very touching book, I saw this very thing firsthand with my grandma and grandpa so it felt close to home. So easy to read, I made it through the first 180 pages in a couple hours one night after dinner, and finished it the next morning. I left it on a waiting room table at an appointment this morning, so I hope the next person who picks it up enjoys it just as much as I did.
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