Tag Archives: Viking

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: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow
By Amor Towles
Viking, 9780670026197, September 2016, 480pp.

The Short of It:

Thoroughly charming.

The Rest of It:

I tend to shy away from historical fiction and because of that, when A Gentleman in Moscow first came out, I didn’t think much of it. However, after all this time, it’s still a bestseller and you really don’t see that with many books. So, when it came time for my book club to select our books for the year, I pitched it and I’m very glad I did.

It’s the year 1922 and Count Alexander Rostov pens a counter-revolutionary poem which lands him under house arrest at the Hotel Metropol, a grand, luxurious hotel. Because of his friends in high places, he escapes execution but finds himself imprisoned in a smallish room but for the most part, left to his own devices.

The book covers his 30+ years at the hotel and is filled with gorgeous descriptions of the decadent meals prepared and enjoyed, the people he encounters, all of which play a critical role to the story, This is escapism at its best and yet, it’s also about imprisonment as the Russian Revolution unfolds outside.

This book is delightful. Charming. Entertaining, Touching. It’s a feel-good story but is tinged with the very real-world politics of that time period. Towles does an amazing job of making every moment mean something. Nothing seems wasted. I turned that last page and that was it. I was in love.

It was announced back in February that Kenneth Branagh will play the Count in the upcoming mini-series. He is also producing the series so I expect it to be very good.

If you are one of the few who have not read it yet, you really must.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.