From Publishers Weekly
No one can accuse Gaffney of shying away from mortality. Against the genteel backdrop of Wake House, a Maryland home for the elderly, Caddie Winger, a music teacher, endures a string of losses the summer she turns 33. In a way, it comes as no surprise, since most of her friends are nearly half a century older than she is. Caddie has always lived with her determinedly wacky grandmother, Nana, who moves into Wake House after she breaks a leg while working on one of her embarrassing lawn sculptures. Soon, Caddie is spending all her time at the small convalescent home and growing especially close to Thea, a firecracker who convinces Caddie to smoke pot and dance in the rain. Despite the fun they have together, the sober realities of old age are never far off, and Caddie's affair with a man her own age-disappearing slick-o Christopher-doesn't do much to cheer her up. The novel has its larkier moments, especially in the spirited, pitch-perfect conversations between Caddie and Nana and the sniping among Nana's fellow Wake House residents. But mostly Caddie suffers and struggles as Nana's ditziness looks more like dementia, money grows scarce, and she is plagued by crippling self-doubt. The redemptive romance, with 30-something Wake House resident Henry Magill, convalescing from a sky-diving accident that killed his fiancée, echoes the core love story in Gaffney's last novel, Flight Lessons Here, too, a damaged hero offers a profound attractiveness the reader recognizes ages ahead of the heroine. Caddie is endearing, and while some fans will cherish her fealty to her sorrows, others may feel more bummed than uplifted.
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Gaffney, author of The Saving Graces (1999), offers a tale about a woman facing changes in her quiet life. At 32, Caddie Winger is perfectly happy to be living with her grandmother, Frances, who raised her, and giving music lessons. But after Frances takes a fall and breaks her leg, she insists on moving to Wake House, a convalescent home. There, Frances meets a diverse group of older folks: a pair of sisters, two women who used to be married to the same man (at different times), and a cranky but lovable curmudgeon. She also meets Magill, a young man whose sense of balance has been thrown off by a tragic skydiving accident. Meanwhile, Caddie gradually adjusts to living alone, then, when she meets sexy Christopher, the director of the Creative Animal Therapy School, she is genuinely surprised by his interest in her. Slightly predictable and somewhat slow at first, Gaffney's novel picks up the pace once Caddie gets involved with Christopher, and by the end, the reader is thoroughly drawn into Caddie's world. Kristine Huntley
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