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Emily, Alone (Emily Maxwell) Paperback – December 27, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
In Emily, Alone, Mr. O'Nan revisits Emily, the Maxell family matriarch from a prior book, Wish You Were Here. Anyone who is seeking an action-based book or "a story arc" (as taught in college writing classes) will be sorely disappointed. But for those readers who are intrigued by a near-perfect portrait of a winningly flawed elderly woman who is still alive with anxieties, hopes, and frustrations, this is an unsparingly candid and beautifully rendered novel.
Emily Maxwell is part of a gentle but dying breed, a representative of a generation that is anchored to faith, friends and family. She mourns the civilities that are gradually going the way of the dinosaur - thank you notes, Mother's Day remembrances, and the kindness of strangers. Her two adult children have turned out imperfect - a recovering alcoholic daughter and an eager-to-please son who often acquiesces to an uncaring daughter-in-law.
With her old cadre of friends dwindling and her children caught up in their own lives, Emily fills her days with two-for-one buffet breakfasts with her sister-in-law Arlene, classical music, and her daily routine with her obstreperous dog Rufus, who is instantly recognizable to anyone who has spent life with an aging, sometimes unruly, always goofy and loving animal.Read more ›
You learn so much about Emily though her deliberations, her friendship with sister-in-law, Arlene, her dynamics with family, and her devotion to Rufus, who is one of the most convincing, unadulterated dogs I've met in a book. Emily's uncluttered life is centered on her aging dog, on waiting to see her children and grandchildren, (who live far away), and attending the funerals of her peers. Her faith is fastidious and her charity is steadfast. She's frugal, but not parsimonious. Of course, Emily isn't without blemishes--she has her own peculiarities and peckish ways, the details that make a fictional character authentic and memorable.
O'Nan's portrait of Emily is bald and unflinching. Many issues that affect the elderly are addressed and thoroughly examined. What happens in this story is conveyed through small gestures, in Emily's day-to-day activities, in the minutiae of her thoughts and conversations. Her transactions with the younger world around her are subtly shattering, the visible world that casts her to the sidelines and render her invisible. But Emily isn't pitiful--far from it. O'Nan's polished, unstinting prose and nuanced narrative paint a portrait of a plain and austere woman who has lived an unadorned, faithful life, a woman of her time.Read more ›
In EMILY, ALONE, O'Nan revisits Emily Maxwell, who was introduced in his earlier book, WISH YOU WERE HERE, and follows her through one gray Pittsburgh winter and into the spring. The pace, like Emily's own, is slow and rhythmic with an attention to detail, feeling, and the subtle changes in self and season that we so often allow to pass us by without notice or comment. With the aging but independent Emily as a guide, the life of an elderly woman is portrayed with lovely observation, thoughtful insight, and a gracefulness of language that makes this novel transcend particulars and move toward the universal.
Emily still lives in the house she shared with her husband, Henry, and where she raised her two children, Margaret and Kenneth. Now her only housemate is an aging dog named Rufus. But she spends many days with her friend and sister-in-law, Arlene, at their favorite restaurant, at church, at their country club, or at the funerals of friends and neighbors. When Arlene, who was always the driver on their excursions, has an episode that lands her in the hospital, Emily must drive for the first time in a long time. The sense of freedom and accomplishment is powerful and uplifting.
As she still pines for her family, frets over her own funeral arrangements, deeply misses her husband, keeps busy with mundane tasks, longs for the springtime, and worries about Rufus, Emily takes a chance and buys a new car. She surprises herself with her daring, yet remains acutely aware of the passage of time and its effect on her and those around her throughout the novel.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most of the book dragged and was not interesting. I liked the relationship between Emily and Rufus...it seemed parallel. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Linda Haynsworth-Krueger
This one begins at a more rapid and engaging pace than the prequel. Emily and Arlene have become closer buddies if not friends, due in most part by their dependence upon each... Read morePublished 3 months ago by DGB
While I appreciated the amazing writing of this "every life". I was a little disappointed that not a lot happened in the story. Read morePublished 4 months ago by RNolen
As an aging senior with many of the same disappointments, obsessions and fears as Emily, I was stunned by this book. How does a 40-something year old man know these things??? Read morePublished 5 months ago by Lydia
A wonderful sensitive portrayal. Lessons for living and aging with vitality.Published 5 months ago by Dennis A. Mcandrew
I simply loved this book! I was amazed that the author could so convincingly
interpret and express Emily's thoughts. Read more
I enjoyed this book. I could identify with Emily. This author certainly has a way with describing events in detail. I love it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Joanne Sellner
Emily Alone by Stewart ONan
All she has left is her friend and neither of them drive well but they do go out once a week. Read more