Depressing, slow, and uninteresting
A lovely, well-written book that really gets at the heart of a character. The author really brings the reader into the Eileen's mind and creates a well-rounded character with all the strengths and flaws of a real person. For example, Eileen suffers from prejudice and some snap judgments about people who are from "other" groups , but is also capable of immense intelligence and compassion.
Her husband's life starts out great, but he will later strain all of Eileen's compassion.
You would not think that it would be possible to make everyday suburban life so compelling, but Matthew Thomas does just that.
Also, I think that the name of the character "Connell" is an inside joke, a nod to the name of a fellow writer.
Warning: Very wordy book about Alzheimer's.
The backstory is waay too long.
The cover does not warn you how depressing the book is, or what it is about.
If you watch the movie "Still Alice" that is quite enough for most people.
Well worth a read, if you want to learn about how Alzheimer's Disease could affect all members of a family. I especially enjoyed the author's portrayal of a principled man's struggle against his inevitable decline.
Where as others found this book too slow, I found it a page turner. Matthew Thomas' book explores the themes of love, loss, what it means to be a family, and how ultimately we all struggle both internally and externally. The most compelling thing to me was his ability to capture and detail the minds of his protagonists: the compassion and striving we manifest, and the pettiness we are each capable of.
Perhaps this book resonates more with people who have struggled with the loss of a loved one to brain disease, or to those who are older and experienced the way life can put an end to dreams, but peace can still be found.
At first the story dragged and I wondered where it was leading but once it got onto the early Alzheimer's symptoms it became more and more interesting. Many of the symptoms relate to my experiences in our family and I recognized them before they were acknowledged in the story, so I knew where it was going. The characters are well formed though I still can't sympathize with Eileen insisting on buying a house with so many problems when she must have realized she wasn't going to get any help from her husband to do the repairs and maintenance. That part of her character, to me, was unbelievable. I also thought the book would have worked better as two stories - one about Irish immigrants and the second about early onset Alzheimer's.
A heartbreaking, if a tad long at 500+ pages, account of a family devastated by early onset Alzheimer's. The reason this book is so long is because it's trying to be two books at once--a story about a family struggling with early onset Alzheimer's, and a cultural history of Irish immigrants in New York. I think Matthew Thomas should have pared down the Irish immigrant backstory to spare my arms (this is a heavy book!), but if Thomas wanted to have both elements in the story, I can't fault him for that. Lastly, I love the King Lear connection in the title.
A tragic story that ends in hope makes compelling reading. Thomas’ debut 610 page novel tells a story that could happen to anyone. What happens when your spouse is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his 50’s. How do you explain his bizarre behaviors to your high school aged son? How does cope with Dad who mentally and emotionally is no longer dad? How do you cope with the financial burden, how does your life continue? Lawyers suggest divorce so that Medicaid will help, but emotionally how can do you that. How do you handle working a full-time job and coming home to nurse your spouse, and how do you keep your heart from breaking when he’s moved to a nursing home. Beautifully written, this story will stay with the reader long after the book has been read.
The pace of this book is somewhat slow. But hang in there. The last hundred pages pack an emotional wallop. An incredible depiction of the different stages of Alzheimer's and the effect on families.
This book was a trip down memory lane. I grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens and even went to the same elementary school! Matthew Thomas paints an accurate portrait of the Irish-Catholic milieu of New York City.
I kept thinking of Alice McDermott as I read this book and then I learned he was one of her students. Well, Mr. Thomas you did learn well.
Very evocative and presents a real family--you know folks like these. Worth the read
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