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February 16, 2012 / Leslie

Review: An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer

An Available Man
by Hilma Wolitzer

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: January 24, 2012
Format: Hardback | 288 pages
Rating: 3½ of 5

Edward Schuyler is a recently widowed, bookish sixty-two-year-old science teacher. An available older man will get a lot of attention from the ladies, especially when he’s not only unattached, but also handsome and healthy.

Edward receives phone calls from widows wanting to meet for lunch, friends surreptitiously set him up on dates at dinner parties, and even his own children try to help with his social life by placing an ad in the personals of The New York Review. It read: “Science Guy. Erudite and kind, balding but handsome. Our widowed dad is the real thing for the right woman.”

Edward is still mourning the loss of his wife, Bee, and prefers the familiar routine of work, gardening, and bird-watching. Gradually Edward begins to reconcile his feelings of loyalty to Bee and the need to move on with his life, and that includes romantic relationships with women.

The book is a nicely written, easy read. It is tender and charming with just the right amount of humor. There is an interesting cast of secondary characters surrounding Edward including his step-children, mother-in-law, friends and co-workers and Edward’s relationships with them are nicely developed.

For the most part I enjoyed the book but there was one thing that annoyed me. At one point the plot took what I can only call a “weird turn”, and to describe my feelings in detail would be a spoiler. Edward begins a relationship that is very unbelievable and does not fit with what we have been told about him. Not that people don’t get involved in wrong relationships, they do, but this is an intelligent, stable man who should know better based on his past experiences. Also, there is a lot of foreshadowing in this relationship that never comes to pass and I’m still trying to figure out how this particular woman added to the story.

Other than my one plot objection and perhaps a too nicely tied up ending, an overall pleasant read.
Source: Review copy provided by LibraryThing.



Leave a Comment
  1. sagustocox / Feb 16 2012 6:06 am

    This sounds interesting, but I too would be wondering about the unusual relationship and all the foreshadowing…especially if it seems as though it didn’t add much to the story


    • Leslie / Feb 16 2012 11:41 am

      Maybe I read too many thrillers but I felt I was being set up for something to happen with this character and then, poof, nothing. It’s over.


  2. Leeswammes / Feb 16 2012 9:46 am

    Sounds like a fun read. Sometimes things that are unbelievable are done in such a way that you’re happy to accept it as part of the story but in this case it sounds like that wouldn’t work.


    • Leslie / Feb 16 2012 11:45 am

      I still liked the book and it did start out great. And then it dwindled down to just another nice book that I would probably forget about if I hadn’t written about it here. Again, maybe it’s just me. Sometimes a story is just a story, no need to look for more.


  3. BermudaOnion / Feb 16 2012 12:51 pm

    Sounds interesting, weird twist and all. It also sounds true. The mother of a friend of mine passed away a few years ago and women were calling her father the day of the funeral.


  4. Suko / Feb 17 2012 12:48 am

    Nice, honest review, Leslie. It sounds like you expected a bit more, but that you enjoyed it anyway.


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