The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass


Audiobook.  This is another wonderfully plotted book (as was Seven Types of Ambiguity).  The most prominent voice is the widower, a 70 year old retired librarian who worked in the Reference Room at Widener Library at Harvard.  The New England accent and the crotchety old fashioned outlook was reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge.  Just as I was growing weary of his outlook, other voices took over; Celestino, the Guatemalan gardener; and Robert, the librarian's grandson who was a student. 

One of the plotlines is the retired librarian's unlikely romance with a woman of 50 he met while buying swimming trunks.  Speaking of unlikely, his name is Percy Darling.  The book opens with the story of his barn being remade to house the local pre-school called Elves and Fairies thus providing his na'er-do-well daughter a place to work.  Another character with a substantial role is Ira, one of the teachers, and his partner Anthony, an attorney.  Robert, the grandson, involves himself disasterously with his roommate who is an eco-terrorist.  Robert's mother is the saintly Trudy, that is, she is a saint to her patients, women with breast cancer.  Otherwise, she's pretty unavailable.  Celestino, the gardener, has a rich and appealing story.

How can this all come together in a credible and appealing plot, you ask?  Amazing as it may seem, it does. 

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