Well over one year ago, Joshua Henkin contacted me through email. He asked if I’d read his book. He would send me a review copy through the mail. Henkin is a novelist who lives in Brooklyn, New York. I took a chance and said I would read it. I almost never take unsolicited works. The book arrived and I read it. It was very good. MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS is written with a lot of heart and soul. Written with great feeling, this novel deserves the positive attention it is now receiving. The pandemic came to town and so the publication date was pushed forward to June, 2021. What a long time to wait when you’re an author with a new book. But it’s all good in this case. Waiting was smart.
So, what’s it about? It’s about a marriage and a family. It takes place in Brooklyn. It’s contemporary. Prudence is a student in a Shakespeare class taught by Spence at Columbia University. She’s six years younger than Spence and he is married with a son. The two fall crazy in love. Older professor falls for younger student. Not a new story. However, move forward thirty years and their story begins to change, slowly but surely. You see, Spence is not doing so well. He’s slowed down. Not himself. Pru is noticing things that have to be addressed. And then comes the dreaded diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s. Everything about their lives change drastically when Pru becomes Spence’s caregiver. Their daughter Sarah has just gone off to medical school way out in California. The tension mounts and the difference is in the air, it’s palpable now.
This could have been a very sad and depressing story. But Henkin pulls it off beautifully. His prose is distinctive and lovely. The story is beautiful. He knows Brooklyn. And it shows.
Spence’s first wife has always been in the picture. She and Spence and Prudence have cultivated a special relationship that is certainly unique. I think it adds so much to this story. And Arlo, their son, is a character with a lot of baggage but becomes an important part of the story toward the culmination.
Henkin does a super job of giving us Prudence in all her angst. After all, being a caregiver to an Alzheimer patient who used to be a brilliant and vital partner, has got to be a daunting task, at best. Where’s that man I married? What’s happening? I’m feeling betrayed. And she is not old. The part of the book where Prudence is attracted to another man is, I think, very well executed.
I was so pleased when Indy Next chose Joshua’s book, MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS for the June cover. That’s a big deal and well deserved!
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS by Joshua Henkin will be available for purchase Tuesday, June 15th. We will have them on sale at Copperfish Books for 20% off for your reading pleasure. My review copy arrived from the publisher, Pantheon. This new novel is going to push Henkin up to yet another level as a literary author. Do not miss it!