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Epilogue: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 26, 2008

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Grief is in two parts, writes Roiphe (Fruitful; 1185 Park Avenue). The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. In her new memoir of late-life widowhood, she encounters the latter. Roiphe's husband, H (Herman), died of a heart attack after 39 years of marriage. He left stacks of publications forwarded from his office that she can't help reading—psychoanalytic case histories in which patients are known only by initials. She lives in a stunned, rhythmless disconnect, unsure how to mark time, sleep or stave off fear and loneliness. Thoughts of suicide comfort her as her former sense of independence evaporates. She struggles to manage her finances, decide where to live, keep up with the contents of her refrigerator and learn countless tasks that had always been H's. Courtship, sex and gender roles confound her as she ventures to date men she meets through and the personal ad that her daughters place on her behalf. She considers her role in her family, her circle of friends, her new sisterhood of widows and the broader world in which she has no right to complain. In poignant flashes of everyday moments and memories, Roiphe tells an unflinching and unsentimental story of widowhood's stupefying disquiet, of surviving love and living on. (Sept.) ""
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved."


“In poignant flashes of everyday moments and memories, Roiphe tells an unflinching and unsentimental story of widowhood’s stupefying disquiet, of surviving love and living on.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Each word seems like the individual beat of a human heart. . . . As fragile and as haunting as memory itself.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred))

“Radiates with raw emotion and is both painful to read and terrifying to consider. . . . No one can really prepare a woman for this passage in life, but Roiphe’s luminous memoir is a beacon of help and, ultimately, hope.” (Booklist)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061254622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061254628
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Federico (Fred) Moramarco VINE VOICE on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are few books that look at life, death, and aging squarely in the face, but this is one of them. Anne Roiphe has written a deeply felt account of her experience of widowhood. While the book is not cheerful, it is unexpectedly life affirming. Particularly engaging (and often funny) are her descriptions of many internet relationships developed on She doggedly continues to seek a life partner, despite the unsuitability of so many of her cyber suitors. She seems particularly drawn to a right-winger from Albany even though his e mails are filled with hate and venom. She recognizes the wounded soul beneath the anger and carries on the correspondence much longer than she probably should have. She continually grieves the loss of her psychoanalyst husband who she refers to as "H" throughout the book. In fact, all the individuals are identified only by their initials as if to both protect their privacy and reveal everything at the same time. The book shows us how we hold on to grief as we try to release it, how we retain our illusions as we try to shed them, and especially how those of us who continue to brave the storms and arrows of outrageous fortune choose to carry on. Let me offer an altered paraphrase of Whitman: who touches this book touches the heart and soul of a woman.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Maeri VINE VOICE on December 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Anne Roiphe's long-time husband dies, she writes that men are her "necessary other," and wonders: "Could it be that a woman without a man is always on the edge of appearing as a figure of fun, a disappointed woman like a nun or the obese girl that stays at home the night of the senior prom?" Ms. Rophie was so dependent on her late husband that she's unable to unlock the door of her apartment by herself or hail a cab. She's never done her own taxes or gone to the movies alone. If you're looking for a book about widowhood with a feminist perspective, expect to be disappointed.

Although I'm sympathetic to Rophie's loss, this book is filled with mean-spirited self-pity. Rophie owns an Upper West side co-op and a house in the Hamptons that she is able to sell after her husband's death. She's certainly in much better off than the majority of widowed women in this country (or the world, for that matter). But does her suffering give her empathy or insight into the lives of the less fortunate? No: "I have trouble staying at such a distance from myself that I can worry more about the orphans in Ethiopia that I do about who will have dinner with me tomorrow evening." Nuns and overweight teenage girls aren't the only objects of Rophie's scorn. She writes cruelly about an older woman neighbor with "yellow stained white hair" whose "back is bent over at a forty-five degree angle" with osteoporosis--"I should do more than nod and smile when I pass her. I should speak. But I don't." Much of the book is written in such short, flat uninflected sentences.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
While Joan Didion's THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING is likely to remain the touchstone for contemporary books about a widow's grief, Anne Roiphe's new memoir is a painfully honest and deeply affecting companion to Didion's work.

In December 2005, Herman Roiphe ("H.," as she refers to him throughout the memoir), a well-known New York psychoanalyst, her husband of 39 years and 12 years her senior, died suddenly. Now Anne must begin her life again as a widow at the age of 69. "Grief is in two parts," she writes. "The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life. This book is about the second. Although the division between the two parts is not a line, a wall or a chasm." With that candid insight, Roiphe launches her account of the 18 months or so that followed her husband's death.

What's striking about Roiphe's situation, especially for such a highly educated, sophisticated woman, is how ill-equipped she seems to be to deal with some of the daily reality of it. Like many widows, she's mystified when it comes to financial matters ("This is his job. But he is not here and now I will do it, badly, but I will do it. Resentfully I will do it."). But she's equally at sea trying to perform even the most mundane of tasks, like fitting her key into the door of her apartment, which she always had left to her husband, or deciding which subway to take in a city where she's lived all her life. It's as if the loss of H. has rendered her disabled in some mysterious fashion.

Granted, some of the challenges Roiphe must confront are hardly the ordinary stuff of widowhood. Claiming that she's forbidden to provide details, she's left to clean up a lawsuit "for a considerable amount of money stemming from something in my husband's past.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cary B. Barad on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In the aftermath of her husband's death, this still-attractive and accomplished 69-year old writer and mother sought male companionship through an online matching service and a classified ad. Her subsequent experiences and the men she meets are humorously and candidly recounted in a frank and engaging fashion. Sort of like Joan Didion's memoir, but with less emphasis on the grieving process and more on the search for renewal and romance.
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