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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

Critic Reviews

“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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • Santa Fe, NM, United States
  • 09-23-10

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!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dennis
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 09-16-10

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great!

great story and fantastic writing; very interesting characters and the narration was perfect loved it

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A great tale

Would you listen to The Widower's Tale again? Why?

Yes, the characters are all so engaging. The narration was dead on point.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Widower's Tale?

his grandsons dilemma.

What does Mark Bramhall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Each character was so unique. He held their uniqueness throughout the story.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

really satisfying contemporary story

liked it a lot. most of the characters were real and n appealing.satisfying finish, too, without being too neat

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Patricia
  • Auburn, CA, United States
  • 04-27-12

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.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Patti
  • Chittenango, NY, United States
  • 07-17-11

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.