An Available Man

An Available Man

by Hilma Wolitzer

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In this tender and funny novel, award-winning author Hilma Wolitzer mines the unpredictable fallout of suddenly becoming single later in life, and the chaos and joys of falling in love the second time around. When Edward Schuyler, a modest and bookish sixty-two-year-old science teacher, is widowed, he finds himself ambushed by female attention. There are plenty of unattached women around, but a healthy, handsome, available man is a rare and desirable creature. Edward receives phone calls from widows seeking love, or at least lunch, while well-meaning friends try to set him up at dinner parties. Even an attractive married neighbor offers herself to him.

The problem is that Edward doesn’t feel available. He’s still mourning his beloved wife, Bee, and prefers solitude and the familiar routine of work, gardening, and bird-watching. But then his stepchildren surprise him by placing a personal ad in The New York Review of Books on his behalf. Soon the letters flood in, and Edward is torn between his loyalty to Bee’s memory and his growing longing for connection. Gradually, reluctantly, he begins dating (“dating after death,” as one correspondent puts it), and his encounters are variously startling, comical, and sad. Just when Edward thinks he has the game figured out, a chance meeting proves that love always arrives when it’s least expected.

With wit, warmth, and a keen understanding of the heart, An Available Man explores aspects of loneliness and togetherness, and the difference in the options open to men and women of a certain age. Most of all, the novel celebrates the endurance of love, and its thrilling capacity to bloom anew.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
“Funny, wise and touching.”—The Washington Post
“Wonderful . . . [Hilma] Wolitzer’s vision of the world, for all its sorrow, is often hilarious and always compassionate.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Smart and poignant, An Available Man explores some universal truths—that the past is never past, life is for the living, and dating is really, really hard.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Charming . . . Wolitzer is a champ at the closely observed, droll novel of manners.”—NPR
“[Hilma Wolitzer is an] American literary treasure.”—The Boston Globe
“A deeply satisfying story of love lost and found.”—Bookreporter

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345527561
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/24/2012
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 339,162
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Hilma Wolitzer is the author of several novels, including Summer Reading, The Doctor’s Daughter, Hearts, Ending, and Tunnel of Love, as well as a nonfiction book, The Company of Writers. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award.  She has taught writing at the University of Iowa, New York University, and Columbia University.

Read an Excerpt


Out of the Woodwork

Edward Schuyler was ironing his oldest blue oxford shirtin the living room on a Saturday afternoon when the first telephone call came.He'd taken up ironing a few months before, not long after his wife, Bee, haddied. That happened in early summer, when school was out, and he couldn'tconcentrate on anything besides his grief and longing. At first, he onlypressed things of hers that he'd found in a basket of tangled clean clothing inthe laundry room. He had thought of it then as a way of reconnecting with herwhen she was so irrevocably gone, when he couldn't even will her into hisdreams.

And she did come back in a rush of disordered memories ashe stood at the ironing board. But he had no control over what he remembered,sometimes seeing her when they first met, or years later in her flowered chintzchair across the room, talking on the telephone and kneading the dog's bellywith her bare feet-Bee called it multitasking-or in the last days of her life,pausing so long between breaths that he found himself holding his own breathuntil she began again.

Still, this random collage of their days together wasbetter than nothing, and it was oddly comforting to smooth the wrinkles out ofher blouses, to restore their collapsed bosoms and sleeves and hang them in hercloset, where they looked orderly, expectant. And he liked the hiss of steam inthe quiet house and the yeasty smell of the scorched cloth.

Now he lay the iron down on the trivet and, with Bingo,the elderly dog, padding right behind him, went into the kitchen to answer thephone. Without his reading glasses, which didn't appear to be anywhere, Edward couldn'tmake out the caller I.D. But when he said hello there was no reply, and heassumed he'd hear one of those recorded messages from someone running forsomething. It was late October, after all. Half his mail these days wascomposed of political flyers, the other half divided between bills and belatednotes of sympathy. He was about to hang up when a woman's voice said, "Ed?Is that you?"

No one he knew called him Ed, or Eddie. Sometimes atelemarketer made a stab at sudden intimacy that way, but he was not a man whoinvited the casual use of nicknames. Even Bee, who knew him as well as anyone,and loved him, had always called him Edward. Her two grown children still kepttheir childhood names for him-Nick addressing him as "Schuyler" or"Professor," and Julie as "Poppy." Nick's bride, Amanda,said "Dad," a little self-consciously, while reserving the title"Daddy," as Julie did, for her own father.

"This is Edward, yes," he said into the phone."Who is this?" and the woman said, "You don't know me, Ed, butwe have a good friend in common."

He didn't say anything and she continued. "My nameis Dorothy Clark, Dodie to you. Joy Feldman and I went to schooltogether."

Edward tried to imagine sweet, matronly Joy as aschoolgirl, but all he could think of was the Tuna Surprise casserole she'dslid into his freezer right after the funeral, and that days later he'd found asingle hair at its defrosted center. Bee might have said, Ah, the surprise! Hehad a chilly premonition that this woman was going to try to sell him somethingdeath-related, like perpetual grave care, or hit him up for a contribution tosome obscure charity in Bee's memory.

But her voice seemed to deepen a little with emotion asshe said, in response to his silence, "You and I are in the same boat, Ed.I mean I'm recently widowed, too, and Joy thought . . . well,that we should probably get to know each other."

He wondered why Joy would have ever thought that, andthen he understood, with a little shock of revulsion and amusement, not unlikethe way he'd felt when he discovered the hair in the casserole. "Isee," Edward said. "That was kind of her, but I'm afraid she wasmistaken. I'm not really looking for . . . for any new friends at themoment." At the bird feeder tray right outside the window, a fewchickadees settled and pecked.

"Oh, of course," Dorothy Clark said in abrighter tone. "Everyone has their own timetable for grieving. But whenyou're ready, why don't you give me a ring. I live in Tenafly, we'repractically neighbors. I'll give you my number." There was a flurry at thebird feeder as a jay arrived, scattering seed and the chickadees.

"All right," Edward said resignedly, politely.He was polite to telemarketers, too, even those who took liberties with hisname.

She was suspicious, though. "Do you have apencil?" she asked. If he had a pencil, he might have noted the chickadeesand the jay in his neglected birding journal, or tapped on the window with itto interrupt the bullying. But he said, "Sure, go ahead," and sherecited the number slowly, twice. At least she didn't ask him to read it backto her.

He returned to the living room, but the glide of the ironover the worn blue field of his shirt was no longer soothing. His lonelinesshad been disturbed, and he wanted it back.

One evening near the end, he was reading at Bee'sbedside, his free hand resting lightly on her arm; she seemed to be asleep.Then she opened her glazed eyes and said, "Look at you. They'll becrawling out of the woodwork."

"What will, sweetheart?" he'd asked, but sheshut her eyes and didn't answer.

She had said many strange things during those last nightsand days. "Oh, what will I do without you?" she'd cried out once, asif he were the one dying and leaving her behind. And there were drug-inducedhallucinations, of small children standing at the foot of her bed, and micescrambling in the bathtub. Maybe there were more vermin waiting in the woodworkof her fevered dream.

It wasn't until the second phone call, a few days afterthe one from Dorothy Clark, that he finally got Bee's meaning. This time thecaller introduced herself as Madge Miller, a vaguely familiar name. She and Beehad been in the same book club a while back and she'd heard the sad newsthrough a grapevine of mutual friends. She was just calling to commiserate, shesaid-what a terrible shame, what a beautiful, bright woman in the prime of herlife. And maybe he'd like some company soon, for lunch or a drink.

Later that afternoon, Edward went into the kitchen andrummaged in what one of the children, in childhood, had aptly dubbed "thecrazy drawer." Among the loose batteries and spare shoelaces, the expiredsupermarket coupons and the keys that didn't open any known doors, he found thechain that had briefly kept Bee's reading glasses conveniently dangling fromher neck, until she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and declared thatshe'd rather go blind.

Now Edward untangled the chain and attached it to hisglasses, carefully avoiding his reflection, which he imagined bore anunfortunate resemblance to his third-grade teacher, Miss

Du Pont. His own students would have a field day. Buthe'd only use the chain at home, where he often mislaid his glasses, and atleast he'd be prepared to screen any future phone calls from strangers.


Bachelor Days

For a very long time, following a disastrous affair,Edward believed he would never marry. He had gone out with many women, but likehis father he'd fallen in love-in what promised to be a fatal and final way-withonly one of them. Her name was Laurel Ann Arquette, and she'd taught Frenchjust down the hall from his lab at Fenton Day, a private school on the UpperWest Side of Manhattan. Another teacher had introduced them at lunch onLaurel's first day.

He stood and said, "Hello, and welcome to perdition."The spoon he'd been stirring his coffee with clanged to the floor, making herlaugh, a bell that chimed from the top of his head to the pit of his belly. Herabundant hair was prematurely white, silver really, and her face was actually heart-shaped.She was as slender as a schoolgirl, for whom she might be mistaken, if not forthat hair and her knowing presence. "Edward," she said in return, asif she were naming or anointing him, and she let her hand be swallowed by his.

It was 1974. They were both in their mid-twenties thenand each school day became an agony of hours until they could meet at hisapartment in Hell's Kitchen and make raw and exhausting love. They were veryprudent at Fenton, though, sitting discreetly apart in the faculty room, nevereven accidentally touching in the corridors, and resisting the temptation toexchange loaded glances.

But everyone, from the overstimulated students to theamused lunch ladies, knew anyway, somehow. One morning, he confiscated a notebetween two seventh-graders in his homeroom: "Does Dr. S. couche avecMademoiselle A.?" Oui! Yes, he did, every chance he could, and he might aswell have worn a sandwich board advertising his ardor. Even ripping up thatsilly note and frowning severely at the giggling transgressors didn't quelltheir excitement.

But once Edward and Laurel announced their engagement,right after their second spring break together, they became as boring to thestudents as their own parents, and somewhat less interesting to everyone else.Still, the engaged couple were consumed by their new status, and began to makewedding plans. He'd hoped for something simple, but Laurel wanted the wholeshow, in an almost unconscious act of defiance against her divorced parents,who had eloped to Maryland with Laurel already on board.

Edward thought she was conflating the lavishness of areception with the success of a marriage, but he went along with her. She'dbeen such a miserable child, passed back and forth between her depressed motherand angry father like a hand grenade that might suddenly go off. Once, she toldEdward, her parents had an argument that threatened to become physical, andLaurel, stepping between them, was accidentally knocked to the ground. Sheclaimed her hair had turned white as a result of all that early tension."You can't imagine," she said, and he couldn't.

His own parents had stuck it out, their early passionhaving metamorphosed into something lower-key but lasting, a soufflé collapsedinto a comforting soup of days. They were as dazzled as Edward was by Laurel,and would have remortgaged their house in Elmont to buy her happiness, andthereby their son's. As it turned out, they only had to dig into theirretirement fund to come up with the lion's share of the wedding expenses.

Edward swore that he would pay them back someday. Therewas nothing offered from the bride's side; money, squandered and lost, was oneof the many contentions between the still-contentious elder Arquettes. Laurelhad been estranged from both of them, and only after Edward urged her did shesend them invitations.

Edward didn't want a church service-he wavered betweenatheism and agnosticism, between science and the unknown. But Laurel, anonbeliever herself, insisted that they had to hedge their bets. When thearrangements began to get out of hand, they quarreled. "You don't carewhat I want," she accused him, unfairly, in the sweetly suffocating,refrigerated breath of the florist's shop.

She wanted a couturier gown and fountains of Cristal. Shewanted to have tiny, speckled yellow orchids that might have been plucked fromsome mossy jungle placed at every table in the Rainbow Room, and there were toomany tables. How could she complain about feelings of isolation and still listmore than 150 friends who had to be invited? He'd only met a few of them.

He came back at her with, "You don't even know whatyou really want." But he gave in, finally, to everything, perverselypleased that she seemed more outraged than hurt by his resistance. She'd beenhurt enough in her life. He wanted to protect and defend her, even before theirofficial vows, to make up for her stolen happiness. And although he knew better-biologywas his subject, after all-the heat between them seemed as if it might neverdie.

A week before the wedding, they lay in their usual post-sexualstupor. Edward was still marveling at her body, the bold and innovative waysshe used it, the way she looked-those small breasts, as tender as if they'donly recently budded; the springy, surprisingly dark hair of her bush. Wordsfrom Human Anatomy 101 struck him with new poignancy. Scapular. Clavicle. Sheextricated herself, turning away from him, and, instead of her usual, throatilywhispered "Je t'aime," or "Again, please," she said,"I almost got married once before, you know."

He hadn't known; she'd never mentioned it. His heart wasjust slowing, and he hoped she couldn't feel the way it began to leap againstthe curve of her spine. "To David?" he asked, as casually as hecould. David had been her previous boyfriend. She and Edward, after they'ddeclared their love for each other, had exchanged romantic histories-it was aritual of intimacy that was painful but necessary; Laurel said so. And everyonein her past, as in his, seemed ephemeral, anyway, like people encountered in adream.

"No," she said, her voice slightly muffled byher pillow. "It was Joe."

"Joe? Who's Joe?" Edward said.

"This guy, Joe Ettlinger. Before I was withDavid."

"Are you making this up?" he asked.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I should have toldyou."

"Yes," he agreed. "You should have."

"I'm sorry," she said again, less distinctly.

"What happened?" he asked.

"We fell out."

"Over what?" Edward said, imagining rareorchids and sparkling Cristal at the heart of the story.

"This and that, I don't really remember. We justfell out of love."

He couldn't picture that kind of falling, a plunge out oflove, like a film about diving played in reverse. "For good?" hesaid.

"Yes, of course," she answered, after a lengthypause. "I'm almost asleep," she said then. "Let's stop talkingnow, okay?"

Despite that cautionary conversation, he was still takenby surprise when she didn't show up at the church the following Saturday. Hewaited for her in the vestry for what seemed like years, but was actually lessthan two hours. Mysteriously, she had decided to spend the previous night inher mother's apartment, which Edward had taken as a good omen. Peace on earth,goodwill toward everyone!

And there were her mother and his sitting in front rowson opposite sides of the satin-swathed aisle, the two of them looking sisterlyin their elaborate hats, their long gloves and trembling corsages. But Mrs.Arquette said, when asked about it later, that she hadn't seen or spoken toLaurel in weeks.

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An Available Man: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
E_M_13423 More than 1 year ago
An Available Man is a sensitive exploration of a senior man’s attempt to overcome grief and regain his life. I couldn't help but cheer him on. This well-written story is filled with wit and grace and also humor. Heartwarming and sentimental, I recommend this to everyone.
SandyHeart More than 1 year ago
Although this is fiction I found it insightful in regards to what a widower might go through. The emotional turmoil of dealing with death of a spouse, family and friends trying to "fix" him up for dating as well as his physical needs. I bought the book because my business is working with Singles and had noted that men reacted differently than woman as a result of losing a spouse. It definitely confirmed my observations that widowers have different wants and needs and must go through recovery on their own schedule, some longer some shorter and doesn't have anything to do with how much they loved their deceased spouse. Would be on my gift list for both widowers and their families.
oakvue More than 1 year ago
very apropos for the aging boomer generation ... good book for a discussion group
BookLoaner More than 1 year ago
LOVED THIS BOOK !! The author did an amazing job with the story line and memorable cast of characters. The heart-wrenching story of Edward and the loss of his wife Bee was brilliantly told and was a page-turner right from the beginning. Don't miss this one; now I'll go back and read some earlier writings from this brilliant author!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with so much of the praise that both readers and professional critics have laid on this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it until it got near the end. Then I felt that the resolution was rushed and really not in keeping with Edward's nature. I don't wish to give the ending away so I won't go into detail, but it kept me from giving the book five stars. Actually, I'd give it a 3 and one-half.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book - learning to live (and date and perhaps even fall in love) after a spouse's death, from the man's point of view! Very good book. Great fiction with a very real feel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. My mother died when I was 36 and my father was 66 and I thought that this was a realistic portrayal of life after an event changes your life and you are forced to go on and make a new life without the person you expected to spend the rest of your life with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd read praise for Hilma Wolitzer's work over the years, but "An Available Man" was a disappointment. Nothing about it--plot, characters, quality of prose--drew me in, despite the subject matter, which should have been fertile ground for an experienced novelist. While many reviewers describe Wolitzer's narrative voice as wise and infused with humor, I found none of that in a story that moved ploddingly along to its end. The book gets one star for the presence of dogs in the story.
Litfan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel turned out to be so much more than I expected. It centers on the likeable, grieving sixty-something Edward, who has just lost his wife Bee to cancer. Edward is confronted with heartwrenching grief, while trying to fend off the well-meaning attempts of others to help him ¿move on.¿ The story is gripping from the beginning and Edward is a beloved character you immediately root for. He is so well-written that I found myself experiencing his feelings as I read the story. His grief process is realistic and poignantly described. As Edward approaches the one year anniversary of Bee¿s death, his friends begin a not-so-subtle campaign to set him up, and his family puts an ad in the personals for him. Soon, a stunned Edward is bombarded with women. From awkward fix-ups at dinner parties, to a date with a widow which becomes a memorial to her dead husband, Edward¿s first forays back into the dating world are rendered with believable hilarity and poignancy. A touching story of a man starting over, at a point in his life when he thought he¿d be settling into retirement with the love of his life, this is a well-written depiction of ¿dating after death¿ with an unforgettable cast of characters.
brnoze on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of a widower who is a bit lost, a bit lonely and truly confused about how he will manage this new life as a widower. I really liked Edward. The story was fast, the characters well developed, the scope not so broad that you didn't feel it tried too hard. All in all, I thought it was a fun read and will be recommending it as a future read for my book club. This should provide good conversations about what men of a certain age are thinking, or not thinking. I liked this so much more than Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. (Which I thought felt like a slow boat to England) An Available Man had me smiling, wondering how my husband would react to losing me, thinking about women of a certain age on the prowl, and enjoying the scenery of NYC and surrounding area as the backdrop to the story. Don't take it too seriously, it is not supposed to be a roadmap through beareavement, just a good character driven story. I liked it.
cemming on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Journey of a widowed science teacher, after having lost the love of his life in his 60s, to adjust to his new life as a bachelor. Suddenly sought after as a partner, Edward Schuyler initially avoids contact with single women, even those his well-meaning friends try to foist on him during dinner parties. But when his children place a personal ad for him, he's forced to face the fact of his loneliness.Edward wades gingerly through a dating scene that's completely evolved since his last foray, stepping lightly into the strange world of singles. Adding to his confusion is the reappearance of his first love, the woman who jilted him years earlier. Can a once happily-married widower find love again? Only if he can wade through the onslaught of women searching desperately for a late-life mate. Does his lasting love for Beatrice, his late wife, have place in his future?Wolitzer's wonderful book, well written and thoughtful, works through a widower's dilemmas with admirable empathy.
kitkeller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hilma Wolitzer has created an endearing main character in Edward, the 62-year old widower. I especially like her frank treatment of his feelings, towards friends and family, following the death of his wife. As someone the same age as Edward, I have watched friends lose a life partner, and have struggled to understand their feelings and reactions. Ms. Wolitzer's portrayal is insightful and poignant. The characters are fully developed, flawed and realistic. Highly recommend this book.
ltcl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Available Man is a quiet read and is just the ticket for a reader who wants to get to know the characters and visit the scenes as a fly on the wall or bird in the tree. Edward has just lost the love of his life, his wife Bea, and soon after is inundated with dates or fix-ups. His stepdaughters, his friends and neighbors all just want him to not be alone and help him by placing a personal ad. This sets off a series of letters and blind dates that are funny and poignant but leave him still missing his wife and more out of sorts. When he does meet someone that peaks his interest an old fiance appears out of the blue and shakes things up. Will Edward's life ever work itself out despite everyone's good intentions? The book will appeal to lovers of Major Pettigrew Takes a Stand and all of us who have lost someone we love. I received this book as an advance copy and have already recommended it to many people.
karenthib on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hilma Wolitzer has become a favorite of mine since reading The Doctor's Daughter (and, later, Summer Reading). I really enjoyed this new novel. What could have been throw-away chick-lit (or ma'am-lit, given her target audience) was instead a meaningful exploration of continuing on after the death of a spouse. The novel was interspersed with moments of needed humor as Edward navigated the dating world, but also deep tenderness. Some of the scenes between Edward and his mother-in-law moved me to tears. I was a little annoyed with some of the decisions Wolitzer had Edward make and felt some of them were a little rushed. I also had a hard time keeping up with how much time was supposed to have passed during the story. At one point, it was supposed to have been two years later and I didn't feel that passage of time at all -- a little confusing. But those were minor quibbles. I don't often find myself thinking this (especially after just finishing Stephen King's 11/22/63, which I felt should have been 250 pages shorter), but I think this novel could have been even longer to flesh out those passages. Overall I found this another very strong novel from Wolitzer and would highly recommend it.
lmnop2652 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿An Available Man¿ (Ballantine Books) by Hilma Wolitzer is an Early Reviewer book for me, and the most enjoyable one I¿ve read for review for LibraryThing thus far.The ¿available man¿ is 62-year-old Edward Schuyler, who lost his wife, Bee, to cancer. A simple, mostly clean story (I remember at least one mention of a four-letter word that just did not belong in this book) that tells of Edward¿s family and friend¿s attempts to get him into the world of living (dating) once again. Edward just wants to be left alone with his loss and memories, but there¿s also a side of him that wants to be out in the world again. He does need that nudge by those who love him.The characters were well formed, though sometimes Edward seemed to be older than his 62 years¿perhaps because I¿m close to that age and don¿t see myself as ¿elderly,¿ whereas I thought of Edward as that from the outset. However, he was not nearly as elderly as his mother-in-law, a favorite character in the story for me. She was wonderful, and I especially enjoyed the relationship between her and her son-in-law.I must say that the end seemed a bit rushed in tidying up and I was a bit thrown by Olga¿s seemingly total flip from one image in my mind based on her introduction to the story, to a completely different, vibrant woman by the book¿s end. But then, that was Edward¿s experience of her, as well. Perhaps I need to re-read these bits to determine how she was actually presented and compare it to my mind¿s interpretation of that intro.Great, easy read about characters that were easy to love and in a realistic setting. I will seek out more titles by Hilma Wolitzer.
jlafleur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A touching story of a 62 yo widower pushed into "dating after death" (as he puts it) by his well intentioned children. Aside from "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand", the male version of finding love in middle age - or later, is a seldom told story compared to the reams of "Chick Lit" out there. Some other reviewers have complained about stereotyping of the female characters. I feel they are fairly realistic and at least somewhat sympathetic. The real stereotype would be a well to do 62 year old dating a blatantly money seeking 30 yo - all too common in my experience. I get why the guys are into it, but I always wonder about the younger woman's motivation.Well written and recommended.
Loried on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book which I received as an Early Reviewer. I thought the main character, Edward, was well-developed, although his family life seemed a bit too perfect to be credible to me, especially being his "step-family". I found the book touching and a good portrayal of a grieving spouse starting life alone. As others have noted, this book would probably be appreciated by those who like Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.
kdkelly92 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Edward Schuyler, recent widower, 'An Available Man" was very appealing. It was very interesting to read about this situation from a man's point of view. Edward and all of the other characters seemed very real and believable I really enjoyed this book and would like to read more of this author's work.
MsNick on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer follows the 3 years of Edward Schuyler's life as a widower and his ensuing reentry into dating. I enjoyed Wolitzer's prose as she eloquently and thoughtfully captured the depths of Edward's love for his deceased wife and his period of mourning.
wcath on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer is the tender, funny, and at turns, heartbreaking story of what happens to a rather shy widower in his early 60's when his step-daughters and the local widows scheme to try and find him companionship and, perhaps, even love. Edward Schuyler is a science teacher at a private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is somewhat proper and retiring in both his professional and private life. The death of his beloved wife, Bee, after a long illness seems both a blessing and a sorrow, releasing her from her suffering but setting him adrift. He seems surrounded by her presence and goes on with his life, quietly mourning his loss and making do as a single man. That is until Bee's prediction that "they will be coming out of the wookwork" begins to come true. First, he starts getting phone calls from lonely women who call him Ed and presume a great friendship out of mere acquaintance. There are Tuna Surprise casseroles from almost complete strangers. And as if this were not enough, his step-daughter and daughter-in-law place a personals ad for him in the New York Times Review of Books. What follows is a series of funny, awkward and even some quite horrible dates with a variety of women. An Available Man is a story of love and loss, of the things that make a life. Edward Schuyler is a truly memorable character. I enjoyed it tremendously.
nyiper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A widow with stepchildren who want him to date again embarks on the task only to run into the woman who left him at the alter as a young man. We accompany him through the various relationships. I happily kept turning pages to see what happened next. It's wonderful to read a story from a man's point of view on being alone and his efforts to do something about it or try and avoid the "problem" altogether.
alandee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An Available Man is the delightful tale of Edward Schuyler, early sixties, teacher of science, birder and a recent widower. All he desired was to be left alone with the memories of his beloved wife, Bee, and his own solitary pursuits. This self-contained man was skeptical and reluctant by the efforts of his stepchildren to reintroduce him to the dating world. His experiences are heartwarming and comical, and the women are imprudently forward or sadly pathetic. On this voyage of discovery, Edward does let his guard down securing his happiness and the chance to love once again. The reader will enjoy the richly drawn characters in this charming story.
Angel2649 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Received an advance copy of this book about a recently widowed man and his well meaning friends and family. As his wife said as she lay dying, woman are going to come out the woodwork once they know you're available. After about a year, his children place an ad without his knowledge to find a suitable partner for him. They feel he is lonely and not doing enough to find someone to date. Piles of letters arrive from some normal sounding women and some rather crazy ones. He selects a couple to go out to dinner with, but discovers that he has nothing in common with any of them. A past flame comes into his life, and for awhile, that seems to be enough. But soon he discovers that you can't relive the past. A nice easy book to read and interesting to read a male's perspective on what life is like after losing a spouse.
bookczuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In most couples, women outlive the men. Check out any senior citizens gathering and you'll see that to be a man of a certain age gives you great opportunities, in some cases more than you had at the peak of youth and virility. (In fact, we just happened to watch an episode of Stephen Fry in America (made in 2006) and part of one episode he spoke to a couple of single men in the seniors dancing scene. Pretty funny.)An Available Man picks up life with Edward Schuyler shortly after they death of his wife, and is climb back into the world as an unattached male of a certain age. There are some genuinely tender, loving, and realistic moments in the store. Edward's kind of a reclusive guy: a science teacher at a private school and a bird watcher who keeps a journal on the birding he does. Well meaning friends, and even his step-children (with whom he maintains a wonderful relationship) try to fix him up with women, sometimes with quite amusing results. The children even go so far as to put an personals ad in The New York Review for him:Science Guy. Erudite and kind, balding but handsome. Our widowed dad is the real thing for the right woman.Edward reluctantly begins to see a few women, while keeping his love for his departed Bea alive. My main objection to the book has to do with one of these women, with whom I just can't believe he got involved with. (To say much more would be a big spoiler, but even a science guy, especially one erudite and bookish, should know that no good can come out of certain things. Relations with lunatics, even lunatics where there's good sex involved, usually don't come out well.A few things I really LOVED in the book: Edward's aging mother-in-law, Gladys, and his relationship with her. It was heartwarming to see how much he cared about her and about his stepchildren. She had the feisty approach to life that bumma had, and a similar saltiness, and some of my favorite lines in the book were spoken by her. I also liked some of the museum bits, particularly at the Cloisters. All in all, I enjoyed this book, and am thankful to LibraryThing and Ballantine Books for sending it along. I fully intend to pre-decease my husband. If he dies before me, I'll kill him.
hammockqueen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a very good book. Held my interest immediately and liked the characters. I will buy this for some of my friends. The main character, Edward, is very human in his reactions to his wifes' death and the subsequent chasings of single women. I've heard about this phonomenon and this showed how quickly it happrens. Excellent.