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Half the Kingdom: A Novel Hardcover – October 1, 2013

11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The 85-year-old Lore Segal&'s latest offering is a slim novel haunted by a specter worse than death: the loss of one&'s mind. Joe Bernstine is the retired director of the Concordance Center, a think tank devoted to eschatology. As Joe&'s own personal end draws near, he assembles an eclectic team of family and associates for one final project, The Compendium of End-of-World Scenarios, an encyclopedic catalogue of potential doom. Yet, as his team gets drawn into assisting Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in dealing with its recent rash of copycat Alzheimer&'s (which has mysteriously struck all of the 62-plus patients who entered its ER with debilitating dementia), their own problems manifest. Joe has his family and associates enter the hospital in an attempt to decipher the mystery from within. The novel is structured in short sections, each titled after the character it follows, such as Ida Farkasz or Francis Rhinelander, and, aside from one mention of 9/11, it seems as if the book was written in the 1970s and preserved in amber. By weaving together the multiple narratives of those suffering from and fighting the epidemic, Segal&'s story is both a disjointed and comprehensive tableau of the inevitable cruelty of mortality, or as one character puts it, the Arbus Factor of old age. (Oct.)

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The staff of Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in New York have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of dementia patients. Apparently, people who seem perfectly clearheaded one day arrive at the hospital’s emergency room the next with advanced Alzheimer’s. Are these sudden, dramatic symptoms the results of the normal aging process or some kind of terrorist plot? To answer this question is the task of Joe Bernstine, the retired director of a Connecticut think tank. Joe has developed an increasing obsession with growing old and has taken on a new project, to compile the world’s first encyclopedia of end-of-the-world scenarios. Joe has gathered an eclectic cast of characters to help him collect data, including his cantankerous daughter, Bethy, and Lucy Feingold, the widow of his friend, Bernie, who herself will end up wandering the halls of the dreaded hospital. Segal, Pulitzer Prize nominee for Shakespeare’s Kitchen (2007), has collected a very disparate group of people and expertly tied them together. With masterful dialogue and a good dose of black humor, she creates characters that are both easily recognizable and refreshingly new. Funny, sad, and at times deeply moving, Half the Kingdom is a fascinating novel, a well-crafted, meaningful examination of life and death and all that lies in between. --Carol Gladstein
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; First Edition edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612193021
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612193021
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,693 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lore Segal is the author of the Pulitzer nominated Shakespeare's Kitchen, as well as the recently re-issued novels Lucinella, Other People's Houses, and Her First American. She is the recipient of the American Academy and the Institutes of Arts and Letters Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize. She contributes to The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, The New Republic and other publications. She lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Book Babe on October 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was recommended to me in a book club email I get. It's really funny and very beautifully written. Anyone who has ever walked into a hospital emergency room will immediately recognize the black humor, and the anxiety we all feel about illness and getting old - perfectly captured here. It was a quick read, but I find myself still wondering about some of the characters.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Katherine H. Burkman on November 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lore Segal writes with compassion and humor as she brings a group of older people to life on the edge. Fabulous book. Katherine Burkman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate on April 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I have very mixed feelings about this novel...It engaged me in a way that made it a one day read, because it felt comfortable the way it progressed...and yet I was lost inside it unsure if what the narrator was trying to impart to me.
It would feel like a conspiracy....that seventh floor, or would it feel more like abandonment? It does feel at times that dementia is contagious or infectious.
I think this is a book to be re-read at a different time, perhaps a month from now by a less distracted mind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jerrold Goldstein on July 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Creative and puzzling with provocative observations on contemporary life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Waited through the entire book for the story to begin. All of it seemed like a prelude to a story. Mostly characters doing the same thing over and over.
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By Mali19 on February 15, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I did not like it. Too difficult to follow the characters and storyline. Did not hold my interest.
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