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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"...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)