Saturday, June 4, 2011

Emily, Alone; Stewart O'Nan

Title:  Emily, Alone
Author: Stewart O'Nan
Publication Year: 2011 
Publisher: Recorded Books
Edition: audio book 
Reader: Andrea Gallo (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: 6/1/2011 
Setting: Pittsburgh, PA
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

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.


20 comments:

  1. I was already adding this to my wish list and then I had to laugh at the this line: "can imagine that this story will have wide appeal with aging boomers" -- I am a Boomer but I not aging yet. LOL

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  2. Oh yes, there will be lots of people who will identify with Emily. Whether they can be like her is another thing though.

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  3. This sounds depressing to me! I thought his last book was terribly depressing also, although I did like the writing a lot!

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  4. Mmm ... ageing???

    Great review - I think I must read this one ... and I had a dog called Rufus at one time.

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  5. i heard a review of this book a month ago on NPR. having grown up in Pittsburgh I was intrigued by it. Your review is also favorable and still makes me want to read it! thanks!

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  6. Emily sure sounds like she had a rough go of it, but it does sound pretty good! Have a great weekend!!!

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  7. I'm adding this one to my TBR as well...a grown woman reflecting on life and being ok...not basing herself on her husband nor her children...sounds refreshing :)

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  8. I think this one sounds interesting, but also very sad. I guess it's hard for the book to come off as joyous and happy when it deals with aging and mortality. I am going to consider this one, but am not sure if I will end up reading it.

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  9. I haven't yet read anything by this author although I have heard good things about his books. I am glad you enjoyed this one. I really think I would like this one.

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  10. For a number of reasons, this one has been singing out "pick me! pick me!" Now your review has tipped it over the top. I'm off to find a copy.

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  11. O'Nan is a favorite author but I wasn't aware he had a new book out. Thanks for the heads up & review.

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  12. I feel like I need to read this so I can face my own old age like Emily. I've never read this author but I'm curious about this book ... even though it sounds like it could be a bit sad.

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  13. I'm adding this to my ever-growing list. Have never read O'Nan, but have wanted to for some time.

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  14. Emily sounds like a character I can be inspired by. This book has an interesting premise; yet another book to my add to my long TBR.

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  15. This sounds great, I think there's not enough exploration in modern culture of the latter years of life. Just added it to my list, thanks for the review.

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  16. This one sounds moving and I know that I would enjoy it!!

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  17. LOvely review that I'm just now reading...I reviewed this book several months ago and I'm delighted that it's getting all of these blogger raves. O'Nan is one of the most versatile American writers I know!

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  18. This sounds like a good one but I think it will also make me sad.

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  19. As you know, I've finished it now. I'm only sorry I waited this long to listen to it.

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