Tag Archives: Stewart O’Nan

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.

Review: City of Secrets

City of Secrets

City of Secrets
By Stewart O’Nan
Viking, Hardcover, 9780670785964, April 2016, 208pp.

The Short of It:

O’Nan is a master storyteller. He can take any topic and make it good

The Rest of It:

From Goodreads:

A noirish, deeply felt novel of intrigue and identity written in O’Nan’s trademark lucent style, City of Secrets asks how both despair and faith can lead us astray, and what happens when, with the noblest intentions, we join movements beyond our control.

In 1945, Jewish refugees were forced to flee to Palestine. There, they had to rely on the underground for survival. As you can imagine, taking on new identities and trying to blend created quite a challenge. City of Secrets follows a man named Brand, as he tries to navigate the new life he is forced to live.

This is one of those situations where the topic isn’t really my thing but because of O’Nan’s  writing and an effort on my part to step outside of my comfort zone , I decided to read it anyway. That said, O’Nan delivers quite a satisfying read.  As Brand’s character evolves, things become more complex which makes the reading a little tense at times.

All in all, I think this is a very different book for O’Nan. I’ve read many of his books and this one has a different feel than some of his others. He always manages to deliver strong characters and a good story though which is why I continue to go back to him and this one is so short!

With all of the summer reading lists coming out right now, this one is a little different but if the subject matter appeals to you give it a go.

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