Tag Archives: Aging

Review: The Weekend

The Weekend

The Weekend
By Charlotte Wood
Riverhead Books, 9780593086438, August 2020, 272pp.

The Short of It:

Started off as a sweet story about three friends coming together after a friend’s death, but then was punched through with sadness and a little darkness which I was not expecting.

The Rest of It:

After the passing of their friend Sylvie, Adele, Jude, Wendy and her dog Finn, arrive at Sylvie’s old beach house to prepare it for sale. Adele, a former actress who still has her looks about her, prances around, flaunting her flexibility which she still possesses even in her 70s. Jude, the most sensible but also the most abrasive of the trio, puts up with her to a point but lets everyone know when they are annoying or slacking at the task at hand. After all, they have a job to do.

Wendy arrives a little sad over the death of her friend but also sad about the husband she lost and the next chapter of their lives. They aren’t getting any younger. By her side, is her sweet dog Finn who is also getting on in his years. So much so that he has anxiety attacks, paces relentlessly and has accidents, regularly. Wendy knows that she should put him down, but can’t bring herself to do so. Poor Finn.

The author does a magnificent job of capturing that fleeting feeling of time passing too quickly. In their prime, these four women were formidable and strong, successful and bonded through friendship. But in their 70s, they are tired and short with each other as they each figure out how they fit together without their friend Sylvie. As insecurities flare and one big secret is revealed that threatens to destroy their friendship, they pause for a moment to figure out where they want to go because even at this age, they have choices.

I really enjoyed this book and the writing in particular but there was one big problem I had with it and it’s the treatment of the elderly dog, Finn. I know that a beloved dog approaching the end of its life was probably intentional given that these ladies were also getting on in years and approaching the last stage of life, but the way this poor animal is treated by the other ladies in the house really bothered me. He’s full of anxiety, pushed around, forced to sleep outside even though he’s terrified of his own shadow. I really do not know why the author chose to include such horrible treatment of this poor dog. It was terribly disappointing and I felt, a poor choice and unfortunately affected how I felt about the book overall.

If you can get past these moments with the dog, then you might appreciate the writing, as I did. But I felt so sorry for this poor pup. I really did.

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

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.