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The Widower's Tale: A Novel | [Julia Glass]

The Widower's Tale: A Novel

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement; his grandson, Robert, has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician; Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool in Percy's barn, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.
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Publisher's Summary

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, seventy-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents, and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.

One relationship Percy treasures is the bond with his oldest grandchild, Robert, a premed student at Harvard. Robert has long assumed he will follow in the footsteps of his mother, a prominent physician, but he begins to question his ambitions when confronted by a charismatic roommate who preaches—and begins to practice—an extreme form of ecological activism, targeting Boston’s most affluent suburbs.

Meanwhile, two other men become fatefully involved with Percy and Robert: Ira, a gay teacher at the preschool, and Celestino, a Guatemalan gardener who works for Percy’s neighbor, each one striving to overcome a sense of personal exile. Choices made by all four men, as well as by the women around them, collide forcefully on one lovely spring evening, upending everyone’s lives, but none more radically than Percy’s.

With equal parts affection and satire, Julia Glass spins a captivating tale about the loyalties, rivalries, and secrets of a very particular family. Yet again, she plumbs the human heart brilliantly, dramatically, and movingly.

©2010 Random House Audio; ©2010 Julia Glass

What the Critics Say

“Elaborately plotted and luxuriously paced, Glass’s inquisitive, compassionate, funny, and suspenseful saga addresses significant and thorny social issues with emotional veracity, artistic nuance, and a profound perception of the grand interconnectivity of life.” (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (383 )
5 star
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4.1 (142 )
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4.3 (143 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jon 11-03-10
    Jon 11-03-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    5
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    "Great performance, great writing, wonderful story"

    This was not a reading - it was a performance! Mark Bramhall had incredible accents and emotions that add to an already wonderfully written book. This is a must listen!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Santa Fe, NM, United States 09-23-10
    Kelly Santa Fe, NM, United States 09-23-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shedding old skin ..."

    A thoroughly enjoyable book who's main charactar is a curmudgeonly, newly-retired 70 year old widower whose comfortable but rather boring existence is first upset then enriched by newcomers in his life. His willingness, although begrudgingly, to open his property to an up-scaled nursery school that renovates and relocates into his barn also begins to open his previously sheltered life. Every door that opens seems to bring struggle and disappointment and eventually growth, love and maybe even a bit of happiness. The Widower Tale is endearing!

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Walker Texas in the winter, NY in the summer 12-23-10
    Kathryn Walker Texas in the winter, NY in the summer 12-23-10 Member Since 2004

    katiedid

    HELPFUL VOTES
    24
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    "Loved it"

    Julia Glass has written another novel in which I could lose myself. I loved and cared about the characters and the story kept my attention from start to finish. Mark Bramhall's narration is brilliant! He clearly delineates each character and emotions come through without being overly done.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 09-16-10
    Dennis Washington, DC, United States 09-16-10 Member Since 2002

    Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Taler Made"

    Julia Glass spins a tale of life in a small New England town that draws the listener into the life of Percy Darling, the eponymous widower, and his attempt to recover from his wife's death thirty years ago. Glass's insights into a senior citizen, his children, extended family, friends and acquaintances make each character real, i.e., flawed but sympathetic. There are neither heroes nor villains, yet, just as we hope we can, the characters muddle though life wiser for the experience.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan C. S. Eastern Pennsylvania, USA 11-09-10
    Susan C. S. Eastern Pennsylvania, USA 11-09-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Baffling choice by the Narrator."

    I can't understand why the narrator chose to portray the main character in the voice of an extremely elderly man with a stereotypical Boston Brahmin accent. The man is actually 71 years old and specifically mentions that he grew up in a bookish household in Montclair New Jersey. This choice skews the entire narrative and makes the central character almost comically flat. He's not a character, but a caricature, one invented not by the author, but by the Narrator. Too bad.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret CHILOQUIN, OR, United States 07-26-13
    Margaret CHILOQUIN, OR, United States 07-26-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Community"

    this book reminds me of the value of community and how much family and friends mean to all of us. Central character is delightful - imperfectly perfect and those who revolve about him both support and challenge him in ways that are realistic. I didn't want it to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Auburn, CA, United States 04-27-12
    Patricia Auburn, CA, United States 04-27-12

    pjlyon

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Certain Kind of Maturity"

    I throughly enjoyed Julia Glasses "The Widower's Tale," but, then again, I am of a certain age.

    Mark Bramhall was the perfect, slow, almost drawling voice of an older man, but far from boring. He made Percy Darling jump to life with his gently sardonic wit, and insightful self deprecations.

    The book was a little slow going at times, and its punches were slow to build rather than a constant bombardment of action, but I think it was well worth the listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-17-11
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 07-17-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Too Many Ideas"

    I did love Julia Glass' "Three Junes" so I thought this would be a good choice. The story is entertaining enough, but there are too many threads. You don't get confused, but they don't connect. Each is very interesting, but as I said, they didn't connect enough. The immigrant part, especially.

    Narrator Bramhall does a wonderful job of narrating, but I agree with another reviewer that the Brahmin accent of the central character did not fit well. He distinguishes the characters very well.

    So this wasn't a bad choice, just not stellar.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Smith 04-03-11
    J. Smith 04-03-11 Member Since 2010
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    27
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    "An enjoyable listen, but..."

    While this was an interesting story and held my attention over the time it took to listen to it, I found Percy (the widower) to be pretty selfish. Considering all the angst that others in his life were going through, I found it annoying that he generally put himself above everyone else in his life. It might have been a more interesting story to have taken place about 10 years earlier in his life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy NoCal 03-28-11
    Peggy NoCal 03-28-11 Member Since 2010

    Herbthyme

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    "Dull and boring"

    There are very few books I don't finish. This was one. Not only was the story dull, the speaker's voice put me to sleep every time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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