EVERY LAST CUCKOO by Kate Maloy

EVERY LAST CUCKOO

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From Maloy (A Stone Bridge North: Reflections on a New Life, 2002), an earnest novel about a septuagenarian finding a second life after the death of her husband.

Sarah and Charles are enjoying old age. Things aren’t implausibly perfect—Sarah has a contentious relationship with daughter Charlotte, and Charles can’t connect with son David—but they have a rich life in their native Vermont, with friends and fulfilling pursuits. The first third of the story follows Sarah and Charles as they conduct daily business, with Sarah reminiscing about their long and mostly happy marriage. This may sound like dull stuff, but this is the best of the novel, a striking portrait of a marriage that is as imperfect and amiable as its participants. Then one day Charles has an accident while hiking, and dies shortly thereafter from his injuries. Sarah mourns but soon her new, entirely unplanned life begins. Mordechai (her friend’s Israeli cousin) moves into a small cabin on her property to write his book. Then teenage granddaughter Lottie moves in because she simply can’t bear another day with her parents. After that, Sarah allows a few of Lottie’s friends, similarly rebelling, to live in the large house too. It vaguely reminds Sarah of her Depression childhood home, peopled with her extended family, a poor but companionable bunch. Then Sandy and her five-year-old, Tyler, move in (their trailer burned down) and then Josie, who ran away from her abusive husband with her infant son. Sarah’s son David quips that his childhood home has been turned into a commune, and there is certainly that feeling of camaraderie among the unlikely roommates. Sarah takes up photography and meditation and attempts to mend her relationship with Charlotte before it’s too late. Though the latter half of the novel is filled with people and their various stories, its heart is back at the beginning with Sarah and Charles. All that follows feels a bit predictable.

A likable if uneven tale of discovering yourself in old age.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-56512-541-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2007