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Henry, Himself

A Novel
Narrated by: Richmond Hoxie
Length: 11 hrs and 59 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A member of the greatest generation looks back on the loves and losses of his past and comes to treasure the present anew in this poignant and thoughtful new novel from a modern master.

Stewart O'Nan is renowned for illuminating the unexpected grace of everyday life and the resilience of ordinary people with humor, intelligence, and compassion. In this prequel to the beloved Emily, Alone, he offers an unsentimental, moving life story of a 20th-century everyman. 

Soldier, son, lover, husband, breadwinner, churchgoer, Henry Maxwell has spent his whole life trying to live with honor. A native Pittsburgher and engineer, he's always believed in logic, sacrifice, and hard work. Now, 75 and retired, he feels the world has passed him by. It's 1998, the American century is ending, and nothing is simple anymore. His children are distant, their unhappiness a mystery. Only his wife, Emily, and dog, Rufus, stand by him. Once so confident, as Henry's strength and memory desert him, he weighs his dreams against his regrets and is left with questions he can't answer: Is he a good man? Has he done right by the people he loves? And with time running out, what, realistically, can he hope for?

Like Emily, Alone, Henry, Himself is a wry, warmhearted portrait of an American original who believes he's reached a dead end only to discover life is full of surprises.

©2019 Stewart O'Nan (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"As usual, this profoundly unpretentious writer employs lucid, no-frills prose to cogently convey complicated emotions and fraught family interactions. The novel makes no claims for Henry or his kin as exceptional people but instead celebrates the fullness and uniqueness of each ordinary human being. Astute and tender, rich in lovely images and revealing details - another wonderful piece of work from the immensely gifted O'Nan." (Kirkus)

"Charming, meditative, gently funny, and stealthily poignant portrait [of Henry].... O'Nan elevates the routines and chores of quiet domesticity to a nearly spiritual level in his lingering attention to details.... Like Richard Russo and Anne Tyler, O'Nan discerningly celebrates the glory of the ordinary in this pitch-perfect tale of the hidden everyday valor of a humble and good man." (Booklist

“Engaging and immersive.... One of O’Nan’s gifts is his ability to craft his characters with such uncanny attention to detail that the reader comes to care for them as the author does.... [A] poignant, everyman story.” (Book Page)   

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Mitford lovers this is for you!

Everything about this book is satisfying! The performance is spot on, the best I’ve ever heard. The main character is Henry, a common guy who draws you into his life with such a sweetness that you’ll want to read it all in a day. If you love the Mitford series, you will love this book!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Tho I preferred emily alone...

This was a seemingly completely accurate portrait of a marriage of upper middle class people in their 70s. Rich in detail of the humdrum parts of life which inform a larger lived experience. Petty inner thoughts, routines, the ways couples work together -and around-each other over the course of 50 years. I saw in my own parents and here that as one’s life narrows in focus, things that are no big deal become very important. Cleaning gutters, choice of stamp to mail Christmas cards, family disagreements about variations on a casserole. Somehow, O’Nan seems to make the micro-moments of a life so informative of a deeper truth about the human experience- Here as well as in Emily Alone and in last night at the lobster.