The Old Place: Book summary and reviews of The Old Place by Bobby Finger

The Old Place

by Bobby Finger

The Old Place by Bobby Finger X
The Old Place by Bobby Finger
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A bighearted and moving debut about a wry retired schoolteacher whose decade-old secret threatens to come to light and send shockwaves through her small Texas town.

Billington, Texas, is a place where nothing changes. Well, almost nothing. For the first time in nearly four decades, Mary Alice Roth is not getting ready for the first day of school at Billington High. A few months into her retirement—or, district mandated exile as she calls it—Mary Alice does not know how to fill her days. The annual picnic is coming up, but that isn't nearly enough since the menu never changes and she had the roles mentally assigned weeks ago. At least there's Ellie, who stops by each morning for coffee and whose reemergence in Mary Alice's life is the one thing soothing the sting of retirement.

Mary Alice and Ellie were a pair since the day Ellie moved in next door. That they both were single mothers—Mary Alice widowed, Ellie divorced—with sons the same age was a pleasant coincidence, but they were forever linked when they lost the boys, one right after the other. Years later, the two are working their way back to a comfortable friendship. But when Mary Alice's sister arrives on her doorstep with a staggering piece of news, it jeopardizes the careful shell she's built around her life. The whole of her friendship with Ellie is put at risk, the fabric of a place as steadfast as Billington is questioned, and the unflappable, knotty fixture that is Mary Alice Roth might have to change after all.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Mary Alice Roth is a jigsaw puzzle of a character, as complicated as any Henry James hero...Finger handles the nature of Kenny and Michael's friendship and the town's reaction with unexpected nuance, showing the problematic confusion in how people see themselves, see others, and assume they are seen by others...A surprising page-turner—homey, funny, yet with dark corners of anger and grief." – Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Finger debuts with an engaging story of a former high school math teacher and the secrets that catch up with her...Though the narrative tends to meander, and some of the twists are telegraphed early, Finger has a firm handle on Billington's complex and stifling social dynamics. Fans of small-town yarns will find much to like." - Publishers Weekly

"Cozy, enthralling, and driven by complex, endearing women, The Old Place explore the mysterious act of realizing the worst in oneself and pushing forward anyway." – Booklist

"Reading Finger's playful portrait of the denizens of a small Southern town embracing and forgiving their many flaws feels like laughing with your best friend while sipping sweet tea on the back porch." - Washington Post

"Unforgettable…hits the rare and satisfying double note of harrowing and delightful…At its heart, The Old Place is about the way people relate to one another: family, neighbors, new and old friends. The messiness, pain and grace of these relationships are candidly portrayed in a story that will inspire laughter and tears, making this debut a memorable achievement indeed." – Shelf Awareness

"Finger writes this town, and each of his characters, with deft tenderness. To read The Old Place is to be thoroughly immersed in a place you can't help but love." – LitHub

"I loved being inside this skillful novel—at the planning parties for church fundraisers, learning to drive with a can of beer in the cupholder, and in the heads of some wonderfully tangy old Texan ladies. Bobby Finger has built a rich world in The Old Place, and I will think of it every time I make toast." - Emma Straub, author of All Adults Here

"The Old Place is a wry but affectionate portrait of small-town life, its complicated rites and alliances, its various absurdities, and, most importantly, its people. Bobby Finger's debut is funny and genuinely moving—an utter charmer." - Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

"Bobby Finger's The Old Place is a wryly funny, bittersweet, emotionally generous novel. I missed the characters so much when it was over, and wished I could read another book about them all. It's a heck of a debut." - Jami Attenberg, author of The Middlesteins and I Came All This Way to Meet You

This information about The Old Place was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Bobby Finger

Bobby Finger is a writer and co-host of the popular celebrity and entertainment podcast, Who? Weekly. A Texas native, he lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Old Place is his debut novel.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more literary fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Moth
    Moth
    by Melody Razak
    On August 15, 1947, India gained independence from the United Kingdom, and on that same day the ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Lonely People
    All the Lonely People
    by Mike Gayle
    Mike Gayle's charming novel All the Lonely People introduces us to Hubert Bird, an 82-year-old ...
  • Book Jacket: Perish
    Perish
    by LaToya Watkins
    It's a commonly cited fact that many perpetrators of sexual abuse, particularly men, are victims of ...
  • Book Jacket: Afterlives
    Afterlives
    by Abdulrazak Gurnah
    Afterlives, from Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, begins in late 19th century East Africa in ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Family Izquierdo
    by Rubén Degollado

    A masterful debut that weaves together the lives of three generations of a Mexican American family bound by love, and a curse.

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Who Said...

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.