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
“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)
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!
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!
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.
Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Julia Glass is a really fine writer and Mark Bramhall is a superb narrator. He nailed the voice of Percy Darling, the widower in the tale, as well as a range of other voices, the next best of which was a Guatemalan character, Celestino.
Glass weaves a tight tale, that encompasses multiple generations and perspectives, ranging from pre-school, immigration, and gentrification issues, to name a few. In other words, Glass is in touch with contemporary issues and manages to address them in a totally delightful story.
I was discussing books with a friend the other day, and we each admitted that we have trouble these days reading stories about painful issues, the Holocaust, war, racism, abuse, and terror. Sometimes we simply want to read a good story, well-written and meaningful but not horrific. That's a fine description of The Widower's Tale which I was sorry to finish. I wanted to stay with these characters; they were people I liked.
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