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Posted March 18, 2015
Goodbye Emily is a powerful and moving story; and of my favorite books of all time. This book made me laugh and cry and stayed with me long after I closed the book.
Walt Ellington, a.k.a. Sparky has Broken-Heart Syndrome. Emily, the love of his life died two years ago, but for Sparky it was as if it had just happened. Sparky despite his name has no zest for life. He lost it when Emily died. Sparky took up drinking, isolated from his friends, and lost his job as a professor at Milton College.
He was wasting away until his daughter confronted him about his failing health. He agreed it was time to make some changes. One of those changes, he decided would be a road trip to Woodstock, the place where he first met his beloved Emily. Sparky wanted his friends Buck and Josh with him when he said his final goodbye. Buck was totally onboard with Sparky’s idea. The fact that Josh had Alzheimer's Disease and that they would have to break him out of an Assisted Care Living Facility for their nostalgic hippie trip was just a wrinkle in their plan.
This book is so much more than just a trip down memory lane. It’s a story about life, its joys its heartaches and everything in-between. Michael Murphy touched my heart deeply in this story, moving me to tears of both joy and sorrow. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. It will. This author’s writing is so engrossing and includes so many authentic details of the 1960’s, that you will feel as if you are actually there.
I highly recommend reading Goodbye Emily. There isn’t a boring page in the entire book. I read it in one day and loved every single moment of it. Treat yourself to a powerful journey. You’ll be glad you did. I guarantee it.
~5 out of 5 Stars
Posted April 24, 2013
I love a good story that I can wrap my arms around. Goodbye Emily is one of those. Although the generation-defining moment of Woodstock serves as the catalyst for the plot, the emotions of the characters cross many generations, whether you remember Woodstock or not. As a boomer, I connected with Sparky immediately. The emotional conflicts he experiences are universal to us boomers as we age: love and loss, guilt and resolution, fear and inspiration. Above all, though, it is Sparky and gang's quest to recapture their coming-of-age spirit while facing their own mortality that stands out. Michael Murphy beautifully keeps Emily alive in Sparky's heart from the first word to the last. Oh, to have that feeling of naivety again, where you can climb up on the stage after the show and hand Jimi Hendrix a camera to take your picture. Magic.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 9, 2013
This book has as good a hook as I’ve come across.
Like many ebooks I’m reading nowadays this one isn’t overly long. Having said that, it’s exactly the right length for the story. There’s no verbiage to mar the crisp and descriptive language. And it’s told in the immediacy of first person point of view. I liked it very much.
To me it’s a road story; the storyline centering on Woodstock, the famous music festival held in 1969, and encompassing two time periods: the time of the festival and the present. They run concurrently, chapters jumping between each. The 1969 story tells of the meeting between the narrator, Walter Ellington, a forciby-retired retired professor, and his future wife, Emily, at Woodstock. The present story tells of events leading up to their return with the narrator’s two best friends. Music plays a big part as the three used to have a band in their school days.
This is a boomer genre novel; one that portrays mature characters finding their place in the world after retirement, after the family has grown and left home, after everything familiar has often been turned on its head and they’re left floundering. It’s make or break time for many and at novel opening Walter has been floundering for two years.
Also making important contributions are the lingering effects on war veterans and the onset of Alzheimer’s.
If it sounds like a tough read be assured that it’s not. As I say, the writing is crisp. The dialogue carries the story as nothing else can—I’m a fan of good dialogue—and the story is heart warming. I had a few lumps in the throat while reading.
A good read.
Posted March 7, 2013
Life is worth living. That's the theme that spoke to me when I read Michael Murphy's wonderful novel "Goodbye Emily." The characters came alive and played out a journey that graciously brought me along. Plot and subplots were seemlessly--skillfully--interwoven, immersing me in a mixture of nostalgia, friendship, love, loss, heartache, humor, rock and roll, and, ultimately, an uplifting of the soul. This heart-warming story would not release me from its emotional power, and I imagine it won't for some time to come. In a word: Magnificent.(Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2013
Goodbye Emily is tale of long-term friendships, the enduring bond of marriage and the delicate balance of parenting adult children. MIchael Murphy has weaved a story of a road trip fraught with obstacles and enduring characters that left me wanting more.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2013
Goodbye Emily is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Sparky, a Baby Boomer and the main character, comes to life in Michael Murphy's pages as he struggles to come to terms with his wife's death. This isn't just a 1960s flashback or a rehash of the Woodstock experience--it's a tale of friendship, love, and healing that will appeal to all ages. I read the book in one day.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 14, 2013
Sparky is a fantasitc character to root for as he reunites with friends for a trip to Woodstock. This book makes you feel you've been there if you never made the trip and awakes memories of those who were attending this big event. I had the priviledge of reading this as it was being written and boy did I hate to wait for the next chapters. Cherie LeeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 31, 2012
Michael Murphy's Goodbye Emily is an homage to friendship and the Woodstock Nation. Part road trip, part buddy book, all interesting,
Goodbye Emily takes the reader back in time when Sparky, the main character, decides to fulfill a promise he made to his wife and two
male friends to return to Max Yasgur's farm outside Bethel, NY, where the Woodstock concert took place.
Sparky met Emily at Woodstock and married her. Dead two years from cancer when the book opens, Sparky has yet to deal with his
grief. He keeps Emily's ashes in an urn on the coffee table.
Sparky has lost touch with the other boys from Woodstock. He wonders why his former best friend Buck, another of the Woodstock
boys, skipped his wife's funeral. He learns that the third member of the trio, Josh, suffers from Alzheimer's and lives in assisted living.
Josh, who is non-verbal, begins singing along with them. Sparky thinks that if he can reach Josh through music he can bring a
semblance of quality of life back to his friend.
One thing leads to another. Before Sparky realizes what he is doing, Buck has repainted Emily's van as a peace mobile, Sparky and
Buck have kidnapped Josh from his residence, and the trio is on the run from the law. All they want to do is return to Woodstock and
scatter Emily's ashes.
Mayhem ensues. A quick read guaranteed to leave the reader feeling nostalgic for a time that now only lives in memory.
Posted December 23, 2012
When I read Goodbye Emily, I imagined what it would have been like to actually attend Woodstock. There's the same nostalgia for those days from ones who went and those who only read about it later, like me. I recommend this book for that reason and because Murphy's humor is so deft. He treads lightly on difficult topics like aging and illness. In the end you feel great about it all. This is a fine story.
Toby Fesler Heathcotte, Author
President, Arizona Authors Association