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An Available Man: Book summary and reviews of An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer

An Available Man

A Novel

by Hilma Wolitzer

An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer X
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2012
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In this tender and funny novel, award-winning author Hilma Wolitzer mines the unpredictable fallout of suddenly becoming single later in life, and the chaos and joys of falling in love the second time around. When Edward Schuyler, a modest and bookish sixty-two-year-old science teacher, is widowed, he finds himself ambushed by female attention. There are plenty of unattached women around, but a healthy, handsome, available man is a rare and desirable creature. Edward receives phone calls from widows seeking love, or at least lunch, while well-meaning friends try to set him up at dinner parties. Even an attractive married neighbor offers herself to him.

The problem is that Edward doesn't feel available. He's still mourning his beloved wife, Bee, and prefers solitude and the familiar routine of work, gardening, and bird-watching. But then his stepchildren surprise him by placing a personal ad in The New York Review of Books on his behalf. Soon the letters flood in, and Edward is torn between his loyalty to Bee's memory and his growing longing for connection. Gradually, reluctantly, he begins dating ("dating after death," as one correspondent puts it), and his encounters are variously startling, comical, and sad. Just when Edward thinks he has the game figured out, a chance meeting proves that love always arrives when it's least expected.

With wit, warmth, and a keen understanding of the heart, An Available Man explores aspects of loneliness and togetherness, and the difference in the options open to men and women of a certain age. Most of all, the novel celebrates the endurance of love, and its thrilling capacity to bloom anew.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Wolitzer [writes] of the pain of losing a partner and its aftermath... with remarkable insight, grace, and humor. A warm, keenly incisive view of life's vicissitudes by a writer too seldom heard from." - Booklist

"This sweet story of a man's diving back into the dating pool at an older age will especially appeal to readers in that demographic." - Library Journal

"When tension is packed off in a few pages... it's both a relief... and a disappointment, because of how contrived it feels." - Publishers Weekly

"I absolutely loved An Available Man (and not, I swear, because I'm partial to widowers). For a start, Edward Schuyler is someone I desperately wish I could invite to my next dinner party (and not, I swear, because there are half a dozen women I’d like him to meet). This is a book to savor page by page, filled with astute detail, both comic and mournful, about what it's like to be middle-aged and lonely yet not give up on the search for love." - Julia Glass, author of The Widower's Tale and Three Junes

"Wolitzers rapturously charming look at love in late life plumbs the depths of grief and longing to reveal the heady shine of new possibilities. What can I say? With its cast of exuberantly alive characters and a wise and witty plot, this book is love at first sight." - Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

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Author Information

Hilma Wolitzer

Hilma Wolitzer is the author of several novels, including Summer Reading, The Doctor's Daughter, Hearts, Ending, and Tunnel of Love, as well as a nonfiction book, The Company of Writers. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award. She has taught writing at the University of Iowa, New York University, and Columbia University. Visit her online at www.hilmawolitzer.com.

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