When Pru Steiner met and married Spence Robin--her dazzling young hotshot English professor at Columbia--she thought she knew what she was signing up for. But thirty years later, when Spence develops early-onset Alzheimer's, the peaceful (if ambivalent) life Pru has built for herself begins to crumble.
Readers will find it hard to resist Mendelson’s radiant optimism, for she creates a world in which people naturally find and follow the arc of their true talents, lovers’ defenses miraculously melt away, and decency and compassion are richly rewarded. This is one seductive novel.
Henkin brilliantly conveys the complexities of a New York City family in this humane, compulsively readable tale ... humor and insight ... Equally well handled is Pru’s transformation from wife and lover to caretaker—wrenching changes that Henkin conveys without dissolving into sentimentality or cliché, but rather leaving readers with a kernel of hope. This is a stunning achievement.
Henkin specializes in melancholy stories about complicated families, and this one is a real heartbreaker. His portrait of Pru is nuanced and sensitive, following her into one of the darkest places a spouse can go and hitting the notes just right. The other point-of-view character is Arlo, a dyslexic genius raised haphazardly by his bohemian mom and his underinvolved dad—his trajectory is interesting but distant from the emotional core of the story. Some of the most powerful moments in the book are sudden insights into Spence’s experience—more of these would have been welcome ... Caring for a spouse with Alzheimers is an ever more common heartbreak, illuminated by this tender portrait of a marriage.