The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass
A Novel

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Synopsis

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.
 
One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches—and begins to practice—an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs.
 
Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.
 
With equal parts affection and satire, Julia Glass spins a captivating tale about the loyalties, rivalries, and secrets of a very particular family. Yet again, she plumbs the human heart brilliantly, dramatically, and movingly.




From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Julia Glass

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Julia Glass is the author of Three Junes, which won the National Book Award for Fiction, and The Whole World Over. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her short fiction has won several prizes, including the Tobias Wolff Award and the Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society Medal for the Best Novella. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published September 7, 2010 by Anchor. 482 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Widower's Tale

Kirkus Reviews

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Glass moves the viewpoint skillfully, showing how Percy’s late-life learning curve intersects with those of such variously involved characters as his elder daughter Clover, whose shaky grasp of the responsibilities of adulthood contrasts cruelly with her younger sister’s career as a prominent onc...

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The New York Times

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Among the many astute touches in “The Widower’s Tale” is the fact that the action takes place within the orbit of two educational institutions looming large in the minds of today’s affluent, consumerist parents: an exclusive “progressive” preschool and Harvard.

Sep 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

New York Journal of Books

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Before long, Percy’s many years of celibacy end, and he finds himself falling in love with Sarah.Meanwhile, Percy starts spending time with his grandson, Robert, the only child of his eldest daughter Trudy.

Sep 07 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Book Reporter

when Sarah has a health scare, Percy's younger daughter happens to be a specialist --- but for the most part, the patterns Glass creates between and among her characters operate beautifully and realistically.

Jul 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

AV Club

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A scene in which Percy takes his other daughter—Trudy, a workaholic oncologist—to lunch echoes Ira’s emotional detachment from his job, and its exquisite tension in turn mirrors Percy’s romance and the way he perceives its dangers and risks.

Sep 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Percy Darling, 70, is the titular widower, a rigid man still sorely missing his long-deceased wife.

Aug 25 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Los Angeles Times

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When Trudy's younger sister, Clover, turns up in Matlock after leaving her husband and two children in New York, Percy does something so uncharacteristic it strains credulity — which is problematic because it is a linchpin in Glass' plot: He allows his barn, formerly his wife's dance studio and f...

Sep 19 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

USA Today

The choices we make, and their unexpected repercussions, are front and center in Julia Glass ' marvelous new novel.

Sep 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Dallas News

And you will find it difficult to realize that Percy and Trudy and Robert and Clover are not actual people, but characters in a book.

Sep 19 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Oregon Live

In spite of so many big issues to attend to, Glass carries the narrative along with the help of conveniences such as Percy's daughter, an oncology doctor specializing in breast cancer, coming to the aid of Sarah, and Ira's domestic partner, an attorney, coming to the aid of Robert.

Sep 11 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Denver Post

When Percy thinks of Robert, he thinks of him as "a Good Boy."

Sep 26 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Bookmarks Magazine

(Does this make you think of the way she handled voice in her previous books?) And why do you think, when there are so many important female characters in this novel, that she chose to tell the story only through the eyes of men?

Sep 01 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Oprah.com

Read more 10 more titles to read right now See more of our favorite 2010 books Get free reading guides for your book club Use our book finder to to discover more page-turners

Sep 02 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

Austin Chronicle

The widower in question is 70-year-old Percy Darling, a retired Harvard librarian and world-class curmudgeon.

Oct 08 2010 | Read Full Review of The Widower's Tale: A Novel

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