An Available Man
Author: Hilma Wolitzer
Published: January 24, 2012
Genre: contemporary fiction
Hardcover: 304 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): When Edward Schuyler, a modest and bookish sixty-two-year-old science teacher, is widowed, he finds himself ambushed by female attention. There are plenty of unattached women around, but a healthy, handsome, available man is a rare and desirable creature. Edward receives phone calls from widows seeking love, or at least lunch, while well-meaning friends try to set him up at dinner parties. Even an attractive married neighbor offers herself to him. The problem is that Edward doesn’t feel available. He’s still mourning his beloved wife, Bee, and prefers solitude and the familiar routine of work, gardening, and bird-watching. But then his stepchildren surprise him by placing a personal ad in The New York Review of Books on his behalf. Soon the letters flood in, and Edward is torn between his loyalty to Bee’s memory and his growing longing for connection. Gradually, reluctantly, he begins dating (“dating after death,” as one correspondent puts it), and his encounters are variously startling, comical, and sad. Just when Edward thinks he has the game figured out, a chance meeting proves that love always arrives when it’s least expected.
My Thoughts: A few months ago, I read the description for this book and decided that I had to read it (here's my post to prove it!) I finally stumbled upon this book at my library and grabbed it. I was a bit reluctant to start it, though. I'm in my early twenties and haven't had to deal with the great loss that Edward experiences in this book. After a week of the book staring me down, I finally picked it up and gobbled the novel up in less than 2 days. Hilma Wolitzer tells a charming story about a man coming to grips with love at an older age, learning about the loss of it and rediscovering it. When I say charming, I really mean it. You can't help but fall in love with Edward and root for him as he goes on all of these dates and makes a connection with a woman from his past. In some ways, this book reminded me so much of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (link to my review), except that instead of being set in the English countryside, the background here is New York City and the suburbs of New Jersey.
This was just a cozy book to curl up with and forget about everything else. Wolitzer has created a cast of characters that are flawed but still loveable. She pulls you into the story, but it isn't because it's so fast paced. It's because she's crafted a perfect little world and she's allowing you to peek into it. I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Wolitzer's work in the future and would recommend her to anyone who enjoys reading about finding love for a second time (no matter how old or young you are).