Every Last Cuckoo: A Novel by Kate Maloy | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Every Last Cuckoo

Every Last Cuckoo

3.5 29
by Kate Maloy
     
 

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Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles's sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone.

As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years

Overview

Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles's sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone.

As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years they spent raising their three very different children; and her childhood during the Great Depression, when her parents opened their home to countless relatives and neighbors. So, when a variety of wayward souls come seeking shelter in Sarah's own big, empty home, her past comes full circle. As this unruly flock forms a family of sorts, they—with Sarah—nurture and protect one another, all the while discovering their unsuspected strengths and courage.

In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who gracefully accepts a surprising new role just when she though her best years were behind her.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Maloy explored northern landscapes and Quaker faith in her memoir A Stone Bridge North; she returns to both in her moving debut novel. When 75-year-old Sarah Lucas's husband, Charles, succumbs to an injury at the peak of a particularly brutal Vermont winter, her worst later-life fears of physical mishap are realized. In grief, Sarah's memories take her back to the Great Depression, when her parents generously opened their home to countless friends and relatives, and to her own regretted missteps as a parent. The chance to recreate the one experience and rectify the other arrives uninvited when a variety of lost souls-Sarah's own teenage granddaughter; an Israeli pacifist; a devastated young mother and child-seek shelter and solace in Sarah's too-empty home. The motley assortment of characters, many of whom have been touched by violence, deliver passionate apostrophes on peace and justice, and together Sarah and her boarders discover unseen beauty in the landscape, uncover hidden talents and develop a nurturing, healing community. Maloy's wordplay and startling nature imagery enchant, but readers will have to decide if the spectacular climax, an expression of its characters' principles in action, is out of place with the novel's quiet thoughtfulness. (Jan.)

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Library Journal

This lovely tale depicts the surprises and changes that come about with aging. Upon the unexpected death of her husband, Sarah finds strength and a capacity for caring that she never thought she would know without him. Amid bittersweet memories of her beloved Charles, Sarah becomes the unlikely den mother to an ever-growing bunch of lost souls. Surprising her wary family and even herself, she discovers a will to go on and share her home and thus her heart again. She likens the way her house fills with boarders to the way in which a cuckoo inserts itself into the nest of another bird and make its home there. Maloy (A Stone Bridge North) has created a truly engrossing novel, with situations at times both joyful and horribly sad and an entirely likable protagonist surrounded by an eclectic cast of friends and family. An excellent book club selection; highly recommended for public libraries.
—Leann Restaino

Kirkus Reviews
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 herrelationship 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.
MSNBC.COM
"Every Last Cuckoo is an impressive step in a new literary direction."— MSNBC.com column, “Can't Miss: This Week's Best Offerings," week of 1/20 - 1/26
People Magazine
"The appeal of Maloy's debut—which has the fast-forward quality of a fairy tale—is not in its subtlety but in its conviction."—People, 3-star review
New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Kate Maloy's sweetly inspiring first novel, "Every Last Cuckoo," is a lovely meditation on what miracles can happen when we simply open our hearts. . . . Maloy's novel grabs the reader by the heart — it is rare indeed to find such assured fiction about love that endures over time. . . . In this portrait of a long and loving marriage, Maloy gives us a real human family, with all its love and conflict and change, as well as a look at the richness that can come with age."—New Orleans Times-Picayune
Roanoke Times
"A wonderful story of human potential and what is possible when strangers become family. . . . This heartwarming tale is an excellent read."—Roanoke Times
The Olympia Olympian
"A story about the profound gifts of time, love, and loss. . . . Maloy's message is about affirming the profundity of grief by expressing that energy in positive ways. This story is her generous vision of how things could be."—The Olympian
The New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Maloy's novel grabs the reader by the heart...In this portrait of a long and loving marriage, [she] gives us a real human family, with all its love and conflict and change, as well as a look at the richness that can come with age." —The New Orleans Times-Picayune
People
"The appeal of Maloy's debut—which has the fast-forward quality of a fairy tale—is not in its subtlety but in its conviction." —People
Oregonian
"Marvelous...Its tenderly wrought portrayal of elderly life has an unexpectedly powerful effect." —The Oregonian
From the Publisher
"A story about the profound gifts of time, love, and loss. . . . Maloy's message is about affirming the profundity of grief by expressing that energy in positive ways. This story is her generous vision of how things could be."—The Olympian

"Maloy's novel grabs the reader by the heart...In this portrait of a long and loving marriage, [she] gives us a real human family, with all its love and conflict and change, as well as a look at the richness that can come with age." —The New Orleans Times-Picayune

"The appeal of Maloy's debut—which has the fast-forward quality of a fairy tale—is not in its subtlety but in its conviction." —People

"Marvelous...Its tenderly wrought portrayal of elderly life has an unexpectedly powerful effect." —The Oregonian

"A truly engrossing novel...This lovely tale depicts the surprises and changes that come with aging...An excellent book club selection." —Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565125414
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
01/22/2008
Pages:
277
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Kate Maloy is the author of the memoir A Stone Bridge North: Reflections in a New Life. Her work has been published online in Literary Mama and VerbSap and in the Readerville Journal, the Kenyon Review, and the anthologies For Keeps and Choice. She lives with her husband on the central coast of Oregon. Author Web site: www.katemaloy.com.

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