My new favorite retired librarian
Sorry Ann Michalski (former Sequoya librarian and MADreads reviewer!) or Sharon Gaddis (my school librarian cousin), fictional Percy Darling has taken over that spot. In Julia Glass' newest novel, The Widower's Tale, said widower and librarian Percy has turned over his bibliographic duties to new staff atWidener Library (Harvard) and is now spending his days in Matlock, an idyllic suburb of Boston where he swims and runs daily to keep his seventy year old body in shape. His new routine also includes being more involved in the lives of his two grown children, Clover and Trudy. Percy Darling's life has been shaped by one traumatic event, the death of his wife Poppy twenty years ago and as he begins the second half in retirement, new people and events ares haping to effect his life in a profound way.
There are many characters whose lives overlap in this book, so pay attention in the first chapters or even take a few notes. Percy's immediate family consists of Clover, Percy's flighty youngest daughter who has convinced her father to turn their backyard barn into a charming nursery school and Trudy, a renowned Boston breast cancer specialist, whose husband is a marriage therapist and only son is enrolled at Harvard. Some other important members of the cast includes: Ira, a nursery school teacher at the charming nursery school and his partner Anthony, a divorce attorney whose nickname is the python; Percy's grandson Robert and his eco-terrorist supporting roommate Arturo; and Celestino, the neighbor's Guatemalan hired help whose quiet presence has an amazing backstory. Most influential in Percy's new life however is a new love Sarah,who is the mother of one of the young children at the nursery school. This amazing cast of characters are fleshed out so well by Glass you'll swear you would recognize them on the street. Most of the plot is strictly family politics until Robert, Percy's grandson, gets mixed up in his roommate Arturo's extra-curricular ecoterrorist plots and the dramatic conclusion of the novel gives Percy a reason to start over yet again.
What I most enjoy about Julia Glass' writing style is how she describes the gray. Many of us find out as we get older, there is little black and white in this world and Glass has an amazing way of fleshing out the emotions and consequences of this "grayness." The other great part of this book was Percy's voice, his character's dialogue was snappy, intelligent and loaded with dry humor (you'll probably find yourself smiling or even giggling at his witty comebacks.) If you like family drama done extremely well, Julia Glass is a novelist for you. This was a story I read bleary eyed late at night and picked up again the next morning to accompany my bowl of cereal, my favorite kind of book. Hopefully you'll feel the same way.