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The Pleasure Was Mine Hardcover – February 10, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312339321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312339326
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,451,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. "My wife has gone. I can't say that I blame her. ... She had probably had enough of my temper, my dark moods, my foul mouth, my all-around disagreeable self. ... She had probably had enough of what most everybody wondered and some, over the years, were rude enough to ask: How in the world did a tall, thin, fair-skinned beauty and one of the most respected high school English teachers ... in all of South Carolina ... wind up married to a short, dark, fat-faced, jug-eared house painter?" That pithy summary sounds like the prelude to a typical novel about divorce and infidelity, but for Hays it serves as a setup for the transformation of a family in which an older man cares for his wife during her descent into Alzheimer's. The transformation begins when Prate Marshbanks, the remarkable, curmudgeonly protagonist, gets a visitor for the summer: his nine-year-old grandson, Jackson, whose mother died in a car accident several years before. But, despite Jackson's grieving presence, Marshbanks remains preoccupied with his own battle to ensure compassionate care for his wife, whom he has had to place in a nursing home. Hays's elegiac, penetrating description of Prate's marriage frames the landscape of this brilliant novel about love, loss, marriage and family. He offers a grim but hopeful treatment of a difficult subject, and his elegant writing and sharp, tender portraits of the Marshbanks make a potent combination.
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Review

"...Hays beautifully captures a husband's grief as he watches his beloved wife slip into Alzheimer's. ...Colloquial in tone, braced by its narrator's stoic, plainspoken candor, Hays's latest outing feels timely and true. ...An intimate, loving portrait of a dreaded disease's devastating effects."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"…Hays beautifully captures a husband's grief as he watches his beloved wife slip into Alzheimer's. …Colloquial in tone, braced by its narrator's stoic, plainspoken candor, Hays's latest outing feels timely and true. …An intimate, loving portrait of a dreaded disease's devastating effects." (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 32 customer reviews
The characters are real, and the emotions are raw.
L. Phipps
The specific story told in this book addresses the emotional issues of dealing with Alzheimer's disease through the eyes of a loving spouse.
Kindle Customer
It puts forward the idea that love only seems to be real to us, when we are in the memory of someone we love.
Paula Kane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Paula Kane on March 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Because my mother has suffered from Alzheimer's for the past ten years, I usually avoid anything related to the disease (fact or fiction) like the plague, but because I'm familiar with Tommy Hays's sweetly haunting writing from his first two novels, Sam's Crossing and In the Family Way, I knew it would be worth the pain.

In his new novel, The Pleasure Was Mine, Mr. Hays is able to reveal the heartbreaking and often inhuman realities of Alzheimer's, while at the same time exposing the kernel of youth and love at the heart of those we often see as aged and that many in our new culture of eternal youth, have written off.

This book tells a story, like a small well painted picture, of Irene's, but more importantly Prate, her husband's, frightening descent into the world of Alzheimer's. It exposes the often-heartless reality of long term care and the system and culture that surround it, but really it is about much more.

The story speaks clearly and hopefully to a generation of Baby Boomers faced with their own ageing parents, impending mortality, and genetic weaknesses. It has a lot to teach about growing old with grace. It puts forward the idea that love only seems to be real to us, when we are in the memory of someone we love. It reminds us to be aware and place a great value on that love while we are able.

Mr. Hays explores the experience of loneliness that can a occur at any age through the characters of Jackson and Newell, the grieving young son and father, and Prate, the grandfather, father, and husband of the afflicted Irene Generational lines become blurred when traits as diverse as, curmudgeonly temper, large ears, and artistic ability appear in new but familiar forms in each of these three men.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David G. Sutliff on May 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
this is an absolutely fine book, a wonderful read, and so uplifting. i don't know why more authors and publishers don't wirte and print books like this. it is so nice to read a story about ordinary folks and how real character carries them through the twists in their lives. you feel that you are right there with the folks, and you learn a few things about life.

it is a supurbly written story and so nicely crafted so that you can drift along with this family easily. also, he has touched on many difficult issues and poingnant themes without pulling too hard on the heart strings with mushy wording. a real trick, that.

a truly enjoyable read. get a copy for yourself, and send one to a good friend. dgs
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on June 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
We all probably know a Prate Marshbanks. He's a good person who thinks he's as tough as can be, but in reality he's a softie. Family comes first, not afraid of a day's work, intelligent but his greatest asset is common sense. We all know the type, and if by chance you don't, Tommy Hays creates this exact character in his book THE PLEASURE WAS MINE.

THE PLEASURE WAS MINE tells the story of Prate, who in his senior years has to take care of his wife Irene. Irene was once the most beautiful girl in the town, a lawyer's daughter, and English teacher, someone who in Prate's estimation was too good for him. Yet the two have a wonderful marriage, raise a son together, and at least as far as Prate is concerned, the two never fall out of love. This love and dedication is being tested now that Irene has Alzheimer's. Prate spends most of his days caring for Irene, but his routine is disrupted when his son Newell calls and asks him to baby-sit for Jackson, Newell's son. Prate reluctantly agrees believing his widowed son may need some time away but he wonders how he's entertain a sullen, bookish, and somewhat quirky young boy like Jackson. The two bond, and this bonding creates a new family dynamic.

The beauty of this book is due to Tommy Hays' carefully structured writing. This book could easily go in at least five different directions, but Hays is careful to present the story through Prate's eyes and by doing so, we become immersed in this man's story and grow to feel for him and the other characters in the story. Readers may think that a husband caring for an ailing wife with Alzheimer's is similar to the story of THE NOTEBOOK, Hays avoids sentimentality.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Russell-forsythe on May 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book, full of humor, sadness, and warmth. The characters are complex, especially Prate, the main character. He has a charming way of being cantankerous and loving at the same time. If anyone has had a family member with dementia, this book will make you smile and make you cry. Prate's wife, who has Alzheimers, shows us the ups and downs, the humor and tenderness, the childlike dependency and the glimmers of remembering times past. Having the young grandson appear brings out a richness in all the characters. I especially enjoyed the sense of place depicted in the book. There are allusions to Greenville, SC, past and present, as well as the artsy world of Asheville, NC and Penland. This is well-worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Lister on March 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Tommy Hays has achieved that delicate balance of realism with affection for imperfect characters in dealing with the family tragedy of Alzheimer's. His narrator is a retired working man unflinchingly aware of his persistent shortcomings, forgivably nostalgic, and a prime candidate to feel that his wife's Alzheimer's has short-changed their golden years. But despite his emotional absence from a half-century of marriage, he manages to show up for that long goodbye that Alzheimer's affords yet so few of us fully embrace. This is a humanizing work by a gifted and caring writer.
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More About the Author


Tommy Hays's first middle grade novel, What I Came to Tell You, is about a boy named Grover who, ever since his mother died earlier in the year, spends all his spare time in his beloved bamboo grove near his house, weaving leaves into elaborate tapestries that he then delivers to his mother's grave. The idea for the book came from when Hays's own children used to spend hours in what they called the Bamboo Forest, a small stand of bamboo in their neighbor's yard. What I Came to Tell You was recently chosen as a Fall 2013 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) as one of the books booksellers are most eager to sell. Hays has written three adult novels as well, his most recent being The Pleasure Was Mine, which has been used in numerous community reads and was read on NPR's Radio Reader. For more about the author please visit his website - www.tommyhays.com.


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