Title: Emily, Alone
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Recorded Books
Edition: audio book
Reader: Andrea Gallo (very good)
Date Completed: 6/1/2011
Setting: Pittsburgh, PA
Emily, Alone, follows the life of widow Emily Maxwell who appeared in Wish You Were Here, an earlier novel by Stewart O'Nan.
In this story, Emily has now been a widow for (7) years, and at the age of (80) her life has little excitement left, yet she seems content in her routines. Her Pittsburgh neighborhood, where she and her husband had raised their son and daughter has changed, but so have a lot of other things in her life as well. He spaniel Rufus is aging and has trouble getting around, Emily has stopped driving after she had two unfortunate mishaps, and her best friend Louise has recently passed away.
For companionship, she still has her sister-in-law Arlene, even though Arlene give her a major scare when she was rushed to the hospital, while they were eating at their favorite restaurant (the food no longer is very good, but they remain loyal). Since Arlene was the driver, her hospitalization causes Emily to access not only new methods of transportation, but also her own mortality.
Although she has two grown children, she only sees them twice a year. Her daughter has struggled with alcoholism, and her son hasn't remained close since he's gotten married. Her grandchildren although at times sources of pride, have also disappointed her, as have her own children.
Emily, Alone is a heartfelt journey about an elderly woman now "alone". And, while there was never that excitement or wonder about what would happen next, the writing was terrific, and the story seemed dead on accurate in regards to what many elderly woman experience, when their partners pass away before them. It was touching to see Emily's reflections on parenting, and on not always being a perfect parent, and how even when your children are adults and on their own, as a parent, you continue to worry about them.
An intelligent woman, Emily showed the importance of making a life for yourself, and not succumbing to a life of loneliness and isolation in your senior years. Never bitter, she faced aging and the prospect of her own mortality with grace and without fear. I enjoyed the character of Emily, and I can imagine that this story will have wide appeal with aging boomers, and seniors who may someday find their life very much like that of Emily.