Magda Danvers is studying for her final examination. Once a robust, fiery college professor she now lies in her bedroom dying of cancer. But Magda sees her death as a unique opportunity to assess her life. She has nothing to lose or gain and therefore she can judge the motives of those around her with absolute clarity. Her husband Francis, who has devoted 25 years to her career and happiness, knows their marriage is ending, but can not even conceive of his life without her. Across town, another marriage is ending. Alice Henry, who has seen too many deaths in her lifetime, has recently experienced the stillbirth of her son. Hugo Henry realizes that he does not have the ability to comfort his wife and that their mutual misery will eventually drive them apart. As Alice becomes increasingly involved with the Danvers household and Hugo struggles to begin his next novel, we are able to contrast the two couples and their experiences.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
The person who selected this book did so because she was struck by Gail Godwin’s absolutely accurate portrayal of the death of a loved one. She felt that this novel would help its readers grasp the importance of listening to the dying person and of trying to imagine what they are going through -rather than thinking of your own potential loss and brushing aside what they are trying to tell you. The Critics were impressed by the complexity and detail that went into this book. You felt as if you had read Hugo’s novel and had attended one of Magda’s lectures. The bits of essays, the speeches and the outlines of stories that were included made you feel that these were real people with real lives. Recommended.