REVIEW: EMILY, ALONE, BY STEWART O’NAN

 

A sequel to the bestselling, much-beloved Wish You Were Here, Stewart O’Nan’s intimate new novel follows Emily Maxwell, a widow whose grown children have long moved away. She dreams of visits by her grandchildren while mourning the turnover of her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood, but when her sole companion and sister-in-law Arlene faints at their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily’s days change. As she grapples with her new independence, she discovers a hidden strength and realizes that life always offers new possibilities. Like most older women, Emily is a familiar yet invisible figure, one rarely portrayed so honestly. Her mingled feelings—of pride and regret, joy and sorrow— are gracefully rendered in wholly unexpected ways. Once again making the ordinary and overlooked not merely visible but vital to understanding our own lives, Emily, Alone confirms O’Nan as an American master.

 

My Thoughts: As the years pass, people begin to settle into their routines, expecting little else except loss and the passage of time. But the characters in Emily, Alone, especially Emily herself, show us that each day can bring new life and new experiences.

Emily and her sister-in-law Arlene have their established routines: lunch on Tuesday at the diner, with their coupon. Occasional walks and visits to art museums. Looking ahead to the holidays. On one such day at the diner, however, Arlene has an episode that leads to hospitalization, and Emily’s routines are shaken to the core. She has to start driving again so she can visit Arlene and bring things to her. She varies her days, and even in the exhaustion of it all, there is something rejuvenating.

The holidays bring reminders of the family conflicts and issues, but with her new lease on life, Emily finds ways to enjoy the moments. And even with each loss, she realizes that each new day is a gift.

I liked how she enjoyed each day, even after some extra challenges, including aches, pains, and illnesses. Her dog Rufus was her steady companion and added an extra something to the story.

The inevitability of death follows each day, but so does the bliss of new possibilities with the dawn. The story was slow, but in that savoring kind of pace that I love now and then. As we followed the seasons, the holidays, and the measured routines of each day, the passage of time brought something new and inspirational, even as the end also loomed. By the conclusion, I felt as though Emily was a friend I would never forget.

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CURL UP WITH BOOKS, MOVIES, & OUR ROUTINES

 

If you have something to muse or rant about, head on over to Should Be Reading and join in.

Possible topics:

Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

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Recently I downloaded two books that I hadn’t even considered buying or reading…because they had been made into movies.  And I LOVE movies.

Yes, I love books, but books made into movies are my go-to thing.

If I Stay (click for review)was a book that left me sighing and weeping a little.  But the movie, which I saw yesterday, even more so.  To find out more about WHY, check out my Sunday Potpourri post.

 

 

I had noticed this title On Demand, but hadn’t watched it…but then my daughter kept urging me to do so, saying she was sure I’d love it.  Does that girl know me, or what?

I watched it On Demand…but then recorded it later last night, after noticing it on Starz.  I want to be able to watch it again…and you never know about On Demand.  Some of those movies hang around, and others disappear quickly.

I used to buy DVDs for everything…and you can tell by my DVD shelves…I have more than 800 movies there, and that doesn’t count the few VCR tapes that I still have!

Here’s a brief glimpse of a portion of the shelves that extend the length of the hallway.

photo(2)

 

 

My obsessions (which I prefer to call collections) are numerous, but recently I’ve been purging my bookshelves.  They are overflowing again, even though my habit nowadays is to download new books to Sparky.

But there are those giveaways and those Vine review books!

Right now I’m reading a Vine book called Falling Into Place, by Amy Zhang, from Vine.  In some ways, it is reminiscent of If I Stay, as the girl in the story has also been in a horrendous accident and is lying in a hospital bed, while the world (and her world in the past) swirl around her.

But how she got there is very different.

 

Earlier today, I read a lovely post by Nose Graze, a blog I recently started following.  She talks about her routines and how much she loves them.

And I could definitely relate.  Even though mine is different, the similarities exist in the security of having something real and secure in our worlds…something that we look forward to in our days.

What has your day been like so far?  Your week?  Do you savor the routines, or do you like playing it by ear?

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