VSL// A terrific novel (not by Jonathan Franzen)

We get an irascible 70-year-old narrator set in his ways, an eco-terrorist group and a progressive nursery school—not elements that necessarily add up to a book you can’t put down. But Julia Glass’s latest, The Widower’s Tale (available 9/7), weaves these plot points (and more) together for an immensely satisfying and entertaining read.

Percy Darling’s wife died in an accident more than 30 years ago, and he’s become both haunted and progressively stubborn in his solitude. His two daughters have taken different paths: One’s a workaholic oncologist in Boston; the other, lost after leaving her husband and children in New York, has convinced him to allow his barn renovated for a hoity-toity preschool. As new people are forced upon him, Percy’s life takes a turn for the unexpected, including new love and introspection into the past. Meanwhile, Glass allows peeks into some of the other lives in Percy’s universe, including his premed grandson’s struggle with his roommate’s new zealotry for activism; a Guatemalan immigrant’s secret; and a young gay schoolteacher’s struggles. If all this sounds confusing, it isn’t—Glass deftly handles each with keen observations and grace.

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VSL// A terrific novel (not by Jonathan Franzen)