Review: Henry, Himself

Henry, Himself
By Stewart O’Nan
Viking, 9780735223042, April 9, 2019, 384pp.

The Short of It:

Thoroughly enjoyed visiting with these characters again.

The Rest of It:

There are three books about the Maxwell family:

Wish You Were Here
Emily, Alone
and lastly, Henry, Himself

In the first book, we already know of Henry’s passing and witnessed its effect on the family he left behind. In the second book, we focus on Emily, Henry’s wife and how everything has changed and how she suddenly finds herself on her own. In Henry, Himself, we go back to Henry’s last time at the lake house, before Wish You Were Here.

Are you still with me?

In Henry, Himself, O’Nan makes it clear that Henry’s days are numbered which adds a layer of sadness to the story. In fact, even Henry is aware that the day is coming.

What you should know about these books is that they are day-in-the-life type reads. Henry and Emily go about their days making sandwiches, painting window trimming, taking Rufus for a walk. When a holiday weekend comes up, they pack it up and head for their house on Lake Chautauqua and all their adult kids and their kids descend upon the place for a few days. As with any family, there are family struggles to deal with and nothing brings them out like togetherness.

I have to tell you, even though there isn’t a lot of action to speak of, I adore these books. There is something comforting about routine. The whole process of packing up one house to go to your lake house and vice versa is so soothing. I’m not even sure why. Henry’s willingness to be the “yes” guy to all of Emily’s requests, although sometimes grudgingly, is sweet. But aging can be a beast too and O’Nan reminds us of that.

In summary, all of the books together tell the story of a family that has been through  many challenges but somehow manages to always come together when they need to. I’ve loved all of the books in this series and I have hope that Rufus (the dog) will get his own book soon.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

13 thoughts on “Review: Henry, Himself”

    1. Kathy, there is NO action. You just have to know that going in. It’s very much Henry going through his days at home and on the lake. I find it comforting. Maybe because I am always so busy and the idea of having all that time to fill when your kids no longer live with you is kind of sad but also comforting. At least to me!

    1. If you like day-in-the-life type stuff then read them. But if you need more action or plot then you can probably skip them. I just enjoy O’Nan’s quiet style of writing.

  1. These sounds like what I call “gentle reads” where we get to enjoy the characters even though there isn’t a lot of “action.” And sometimes a gentle read is just what I am looking for.

    1. Yes, a very gentle read. The other thing too is I like being around older people. I love their stories and their dedication to routine and how they like to have things just so. That is how these characters are. They are forever married and know each other so well.

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