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Morningside Heights

A Novel

by Joshua Henkin

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin X
Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin
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  • Published May 2022
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 37 member reviews
for Morningside Heights
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  • Gretchen M. (Martinsburg, WV)
    Couldn't Put It Down
    I haven't enjoyed a book like this one in awhile. Characters who are real and funny and honest, a plot that flows and a difficult subject matter depicted with respect and sensitivity. It's so much more than the book jacket describes. Read it!
  • What are words?
    Intertwined lives
    Forgo vs. forego; sleight vs. slight; principle vs. principal; flout vs. flaunt; grizzly vs. grisly; mantel vs. mantle; anaticlimactic not anticlimactic - why do these word pairs matter? Do they matter at all? Professor Spence Robin's son Arlo knows that they do not matter, yet to his father, they are a concrete measurement of Arlo's education and ability.

    Morningside Heights is divided into 8 sections each one with its own emphasis on a character from the book and his or her relationships. The book revolves around the life of Professor Spencer Robin who is a professor of Shakespeare at Columbia University. He is an academic star and one of the youngest professors at the university.

    The story begins when Pru Steiner enrolls in the Professor's class. Their relationship is pivotal in the book. The Intellectual Professor gradually crumbles under the diseases of Alzheimer's and dementia sometime after Pru and the Professor are married.

    The novel expertly weaves in and out of the four characters' lives. It examines the joys and devastating consequences that life in a loving but dysfunctional family bring.

    Often a soft touch of humor enters into the novel. In chapter 33 a scene of lovemaking turns from romantic to awkward mirroring the life of the relationship itself.

    This novel would be an excellent choice for a book club as it challenges our perceptions of love, Alzheimer's disease, and awkward familial relationships in blended family and other family issues.

    This novel is insightful and timely- a tribute to the frailty of familial love.
  • Patty S. (Towson, MD)
    Believe In These Characters!
    I was so moved by MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS that I had to let it sit for a couple of days before I could write about it. It is the story of a family that will experience hard things. It took me almost no time at all to become invested in Joshua Henkin's characters. They are alive and their experiences ring true, from the sweetness to the excruciating pain. Through it all, it is love and compassion that keeps them putting one foot in front of the other. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.
  • Susan P. (Boston, MA)
    Morningside Heights
    This is a sweet and sad story. Pru, a young Jewish woman from the Midwest, starts graduate school at Columbia and falls for her professor. She finds all the lovely things about him are counterbalanced by problems (his previous marriage, his overshadowing fame) and, later, his declining health. Not a long book, but a very deliberate and well-thought-out story of perhaps an ordinary person who really is inspirational (without trying to be anything remotely like that). Hard to put down!
  • Mary S. (Hilton Head Island, SC)
    Realistic and Compelling
    Seldom does a story about a family attain the realism that the author did in this book. Perhaps I am at an age when the storyline depicts situations similar to my own, but I identified with each of the characters completely. The author's use of parallel timelines captured my attention and made me want to read on and learn "what happens next". The life situations were believable and enduring-- I highly recommend this book as a quick, enjoyable read!
  • Cynthia V. (New York, NY)
    Surprisingly Uplifting
    A novel about a literature professor's battle with early onset Alzheimer's does not sound like something I'd ordinarily be drawn to. But this book is so much more. The setting is contemporary Upper West Side New York in the environs of Columbia University. The family members experience complex and sometimes contradictory emotions, which are honest and unsentimental. I found the author's writing of the family dynamics lovingly natural and unselfconscious. The time frame goes back and forth, but easily understood and serves character development well. Reading this compassionate, well-written and ultimately life affirming novel was a pleasure.
  • Judith Guffey
    Everyman’s story
    The revolving doors of these families kept me engaged and eager to read the next part. A story of love, mistrust, abandonment, forgiveness, and care for one another. Poignant and bittersweet. I devoured this book in a few hours.

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