Synopses & Reviews
At age seventy-five, Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the familiar, steadfast company of her husband. But when Charles succumbs to an injury he suffered in the woods, she is left suddenly and inconsolably alone.
As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past. She remembers the intense joys and tough rials of her fifty-year marriage to Charles and he challenge of raising three very different children, particularly a daughter whose needs she never quite understood. And she lovingly recalls her own childhood, when her parents generously opened their home to friends and relatives during the Great Depression.
Curiously, her past comes full circle when several displaced people seek shelter in Sarah's big, empty home—breathing new spirit into a life she had thought was spent and done, and even offering the opportunity to mend the relationship that had troubled her the most.
The first to arrive are Sarah's rebellious teenage granddaughter, Lottie, and two of her disaffected young friends. They are soon followed by an Israeli pacifist in need of a retreat, a young mother and son who've lost their home in a fire, and a woman and her infant fleeing a violent partner. This unlikely flock forms a family of sorts, whose members nurture and protect each other. Together, all of them, including Sarah, face their fears—both real and imagined—discover their hidden strengths and abilities, and slowly rebuild their lives.
In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who finds a startling, fulfilling new role just when she thought her best years were behind her.
"Maloy explored northern landscapes and Quaker faith in her memoir A Stone Bridge North; she returns to both in her moving debut novel. When 75-year-old Sarah Lucas's husband, Charles, succumbs to an injury at the peak of a particularly brutal Vermont winter, her worst later-life fears of physical mishap are realized. In grief, Sarah's memories take her back to the Great Depression, when her parents generously opened their home to countless friends and relatives, and to her own regretted missteps as a parent. The chance to recreate the one experience and rectify the other arrives uninvited when a variety of lost souls Sarah's own teenage granddaughter; an Israeli pacifist; a devastated young mother and child seek shelter and solace in Sarah's too-empty home. The motley assortment of characters, many of whom have been touched by violence, deliver passionate apostrophes on peace and justice, and together Sarah and her boarders discover unseen beauty in the landscape, uncover hidden talents and develop a nurturing, healing community. Maloy's wordplay and startling nature imagery enchant, but readers will have to decide if the spectacular climax, an expression of its characters' principles in action, is out of place with the novel's quiet thoughtfulness." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A tender and wise story of what happens when love lasts. This vivid and original novel seizes and surprises the reader....A stunning, elegant debut." Katharine Weber, author of Triangle and The Little Women
"Kate Maloy's remarkable heroine [is] a woman so passionate, so intelligent, and so full of life that most readers will quickly forget that she happens to be in her seventies. This is a wonderful debut." Margot Livesey, author of The Missing World
"This is a splendid book, written in spare, clean prose, in which the knots of grief and complication are eased to resolution by wisdom and love."— Peter Pouncey, author of Rules for Old Men Waiting
"This lovely tale depicts the surprises and changes that come about with aging....Maloy has created a truly engrossing novel, with situations at times both joyful and horribly sad and an entirely likable protagonist surrounded by an eclectic cast of friends and family. An excellent book club selection; highly recommended." Library Journal
"A striking portrait of a marriage that is as imperfect and amiable as its participants." Kirkus Reviews
"A story about the profound gifts of time, love, and loss. . . . Maloy's message is about affirming the profundity of grief by expressing that energy in positive ways. This story is her generous vision of how things could be."--The Olympian The Olympia Olympian
"A luminously textured novel that insists that grief need not diminish a life but instead can offer up a bounty of surprises, that choices don't have to narrow as we age but in fact can grow more plentiful, and finally, and most important, that love can be as open and expansive as the sky itself. I loved this rich and haunting novel.” —Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble
"[A] moving debut novel. . . .Maloy's wordplay and startling nature imagery enchant."
—Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly
"Every Last Cuckoo is an impressive step in a new literary direction."-- MSNBC.com column, “Can't Miss: This Week's Best Offerings," week of 1/20 - 1/26 MSNBC.COM
"The appeal of Maloy's debut--which has the fast-forward quality of a fairy tale--is not in its subtlety but in its conviction." --People
"Maloy's novel grabs the reader by the heart...In this portrait of a long and loving marriage, [she] gives us a real human family, with all its love and conflict and change, as well as a look at the richness that can come with age." --The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"A wonderful story of human potential and what is possible when strangers become family. . . . This heartwarming tale is an excellent read."—Roanoke Times Roanoke Times
"Marvelous...Its tenderly wrought portrayal of elderly life has an unexpectedly powerful effect." --The Oregonian
"A truly engrossing novel...This lovely tale depicts the surprises and changes that come with aging...An excellent book club selection." --Library Journal
At age seventy-five, Sarah thought that her life was settled and assured: she and Charles would live out their days in the quiet comfort of their rural Vermont home. But now, with Charles gone, Sarah is unable to find peace. That is, until her home unforeseeably becomes an unruly refuge for wayward souls. First comes her teenage granddaughter Lottie, who can't abide living with her mother. She's soon joined by two similarly displaced young friends; an Israeli soldier who needs a retreat; a young mother and son who've lost their home to a fire; and a woman and her infant fleeing a violent partner.
In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, author Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who finds the most rewarding role of her life just when she thought the best years were over.
In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, author Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who finds the most rewarding role of her life just when she thought the best years were over.
Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles's sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone.
As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years they spent raising their three very different children; and her childhood during the Great Depression, when her parents opened their home to countless relatives and neighbors. So, when a variety of wayward souls come seeking shelter in Sarah's own big, empty home, her past comes full circle. As this unruly flock forms a family of sorts, they--with Sarah--nurture and protect one another, all the while discovering their unsuspected strengths and courage.
In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who gracefully accepts a surprising new role just when she though her best years were behind her.
About the Author
Kate Maloy is the author of the memoir A Stone Bridge North: Reflections in a New Life.
Her work has been published online in Literary Mama
and in the Readerville Journal,
the Kenyon Review,
and the anthologies For Keeps