Cathleen Schine is the best-selling author of THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT. Talk about funny! I laughed my head off over that one. And I laughed a lot while reading THEY MAY NOW MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO, as well.
There’re a lot of books about NYC this year. More than ever before. It’s such a great place to set your story. This time the story concerns an old Jewish couple who live in a rent-controlled apartment. The Bergman’s are living a challenging existence mainly due to Aaron’s heart disease, colon and bladder cancers, and his Alzheimer’s …. And his wife, Joy, is recovering from her own health issues. She cares for Aaron while still keeping down a part-time job at a museum. Joy is 86. No wonder the kids are concerned.
This witty novel is filled with black comedy. We watch as this strong determined woman deals with all the atrocities of old age and care-giving. She is determined to keep Aaron home with her. She needs to take care of him. Their trips to the park reignite a friendship with an old boyfriend of Joy’s from many years before she even met Aaron. Karl becomes not only a friend of Joy, but a friend of Aaron. And as Aaron’s health deteriorates we see the children Molly and Daniel begin hovering around Joy. Especially when the restored friendship proves to be getting a little to close for comfort.
Once Aaron passes away, the family come together to deal with Joy’s widowhood. Each of them feels guilty in some way or other. Molly, the daughter, lives in L.A. now with her lesbian partner. They have Joy come to visit hoping she will fall in love with the place and want to move there. They even adopt a tiny dog for Joy to “care” for and walk. The trouble is the dog hates walking. And then a giant tricycle is purchased for Joy to ride around in. But she’s no dummy. She misses NYC. She loves the city and can’t wait to return. Then Daniel, the son, attempts to have Joy move in with him and his family. But, his wife and daughters don’t really want this. And Joy wants it even less.
So, what is to become of Joy? That’s the question. She does not feel like she “belongs” anywhere anymore. And she just can’t seem to cope with some of the everyday mundane things such as paying bills and going through mail. Some of this seemed a bit much for me, but what do I know.
I enjoyed the short, to the point, sentences. And I loved how Schine moved the story along with great dialogue. However, the middle of the book bogged me down. I just wanted to get on with it. Other than that, it was really good. But, I think authors have to be very careful. An awful lot of baby boomers are aging. We don’t want to hear from all of them…
I got my copy of THEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO, by Cathleen Schine, from my local library.