With wry candor and tender humor, Ayelet Waldman has crafted a strikingly beautiful novel for our time, tackling the absurdities of modern life and reminding us why we love some people no matter what.
candor and tender humor, acclaimed novelist Ayelet Waldman has crafted a
strikingly beautiful novel for our time, tackling the absurdities of
modern life and reminding us why we love some people no matter what.
For Emilia Greenleaf, life is by turns a comedy of errors and an emotional minefield. Yes, she's a Harvard Law grad who married her soul mate. Yes, they live in elegant comfort on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. But with her one-and-only, Jack, came a stepsona know-it-all preschooler named William who has become her number one responsibility every Wednesday afternoon. With William, Emilia encounters a number of impossible pursuitssuch as the pursuit of cab drivers who speed away when they see William's industrial-strength car seat and the pursuit of lactose-free, strawberry-flavored, patisserie-quality cupcakes, despite the fact that William's allergy is a figment of his over-protective mother's imagination.
As much as Emilia wants to find common ground with William, she becomes completely preoccupied when she loses her newborn daughter. After this, the sight of any child brings her to tears, and Wednesdays with William are almost impossible. When his unceasing questions turn to the baby's death, Emilia is at a total loss. Doesn't anyone understand that self-pity is a full-time job? Ironically, it is only through her blundering attempts to bond with William that she finally heals herself and learns what family really means.
Usually, if I duck my head and walk briskly, I can make it past the playground at West Eighty-first Street. I start preparing in the elevator, my eyes on the long brass arrow as it ticks down from the seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth floor. Sometimes the elevator stops and one of my neighbors gets on, and I have no choice but to crack the carapace of my solitude, and pretend civility. If it's one of the younger ones, the guitar player with the brush of red hair and the peeling skin, say, or the movie executive in the rumpled jeans and the buttery leather coat, it's enough to muster a polite nod of the head. The older ones require more. The steel-haired women in the self-consciously bohemian dresses, folds of purple peeping from ...
How should the reader side? How much sympathy should we have for Emilia? How much hurt is it acceptable for her to inflict in her pain, and on who? ... At the end of this heartfelt and well-paced novel nothing tangible has changed; Emilia still misses Isabel, still finds William's questions trying, still finds it a challenge to cope with the ex-wife; but she has survived and grown through her grief, having been transformed into someone who can appreciate the "accidental beauty" of life in both the good and bad moments.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (342 words).
Once a year for the last five years, former public defender Ayelet Waldman has
turned out a volume in her Mommy Track mystery series, starring Juliet
Applebaum, ex-public defender and "self-employed mother". In mystery
genre terms the Mommy Track books are best described as 'cozies'
(mysteries with low body counts, with the murders usually committed off stage
- or at least not graphically described!).
However, in 2003 she broke the mold and published Daughter's Keeper, a politically charged novel about a woman's battle with the American legal system's inflexible drug laws; and returned in 2006 with Love and Other Impossible Pursuits. In parallel to her books she's also an outspoken blogger and has written...
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A compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.
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