October 14, 2010 by Reader's Connection
Percy Darling is a recently retired Massachusetts librarian who, for reasons I won´t disclose, allows his treasured (though unused) barn to be turned into a preschool; and The Widower’s Tale begins on the first day of school.
Percy, whose life will never be the same, is the widower in question, and he’s the novel’s central character; but other stories are being told, here. A gay preschool teacher named Ira, a Guatemalen gardener named Celestino, and Percy’s grandson Robert all bear parts of the narrative. One of the book’s fascinations for me was to watch author Julia Glass tell the story from four male points of view, while allowing her female characters to shine brilliantly. Percy’s two daughters are the first to come to mind, but love interests and friends and obsessive female neighbors all play a part.
Also amazing is the way the four narratives flow into each other, how Robert’s roommate helps Celestino and how Ira’s would-be husband helps . . . I’m getting ahead of myself. The story–and with all these interactions it really is all one story–moves through some sorrowful territory, but there are grins along the way.
A closing unsupported prediction: Oprah will pick this book.