As with many of my favorite books, I found this through a review on the NPR Books website. I purchased it during the book buying frenzy that ultimately resulted in my resolve to go 100 days without buying books (of which I am on day 46. And while I have not spent money on any books in 46 days, I have coerced other people into buying me books enough to feel only modestly pleased with my accomplishments thus far).
I was immediately captivated with this book, which follows Edward Schuyler, a 62 year-old who is recently widowed. As he mourns and tries to assemble a life after the death of his wife, he must also contend with people who try to set him up with other "available" women before he is ready. This includes his well-meaning children, who put an advertisement in the dating section of the New York Review of Books on his behalf that reads: Science Guy. Erudite and kind, balding but handsome. Our widowed dad is the real thing for the right woman. Jersey/Metropolitan New York.
Author Hilma Wolitzer invents a world in which we, too, grieve for Edward and his beloved Bee. Within the landscape of Edward's memories, Wolitzer creates a relationship with which anyone who has been in love can identify: the idiosyncrasies, the inside jokes, the complicit understandings between two like-minded people. Edward often observes situations and imagines what Bee would say. This is particularly funny when he receives a post-funeral casserole with an accidental, suspicious-looking hair at the bottom. Ah! The surprise, he imagines Bee saying. Wolitzer's characters are original and fresh.
We mourn with Edward; but we also cheer for him when he begins to move forward. I have noticed recently that my favorite books tend to be those in which the characters are gentle, introspective people who are kind and funny (intentionally funny or otherwise). Edward Schuyler espouses each of these qualities. I loved to read about him. This is one of the loveliest novels I've read this year.