National best seller and Today show Book Club selection, Broken for You is the story of two women in self-imposed exile whose lives are transformed when their paths intersect. Stephanie Kallos's debut novel is a work of infinite charm, wit and heart. It is also a glorious homage to the beauty of broken things. When we meet septuagenarian Margaret Hughes, she is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. As their tentative friendship evolves, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to the younger woman. This launches a series of unanticipated events, leading Margaret to discover a way to redeem her cursed past, and Wanda to learn the true purpose of her cross-country journey. Both funny and heartbreaking, Broken for You is a testament to the saving graces of surrogate families and shows how far the tiniest repair jobs can go in righting the world's wrongs.
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Read an Excerpt
MargaretWhen Margaret Hughes found out she had a brain tumor, she stared at the black-and-white images illuminated on the screen behind her physician's desk-"slices," he called them. She was surprised to see that her brain looked like two halves of a desiccated walnut.
Her physician spoke of cisterns, vessels, ventricles, a star. Of cells that had forgotten how to die. It was so complicated, so difficult to understand, but in all fairness she had no one to blame but herself. She was the one who'd insisted on seeing the images, made him promise that he'd be straightforward, tell her the names of things, explain why she'd been experiencing these headaches, these slips of the tongue, errors in cognition, apparitions. The fact that he continually referred to the images as "slices" only made matters worse; Margaret had already been so flustered before her appointment that she'd left home without finishing breakfast.
Dr. Leising pointed out the mass effect of the enhancing something-or-other as seen on Coronal Slice #16. Margaret's stomach rumbled.
I can't believe it, she thought. I forgot to eat my jelly toast.
Her physician concluded his speech and asked Margaret how she wished to proceed, what interventional options she wanted to pursue, and was there anyone she'd like to call. "Stephen perhaps?" he suggested, rather too lightly. "Mightn't he want to know?"
Well, of course her ex-husband would want to know. Couples don't go through what she and Stephen had without forging some kind of enduring connection-even (although few people understood this) a complicated, battle-comrade kind of love.
But there was something irritating in Dr. Leising's tone-as if he didn't think she should hear his prognosis in the absence of a male shoulder to weep on. As if she couldn't handle things without the benefit of counsel by some father-by-proxy. Margaret had managed her own affairs nicely for most of her life. She wouldn't be railroaded, pitied, or bamboozled now. I might look like a nice, diffident old lady, she thought, but I'm not about to be treated like one.
She asked a few pointed questions. Dr. Leising gave answers which she considered unacceptable, evasive, patronizing, and then launched into yet another discussion of her "slices." Would it never end?
Margaret couldn't listen anymore, so she excused herself to the rest room, took the elevator down to the street, and walked until she came upon a cafe with the words "Desserts, Etcetera" painted on the windows. She deliberated. On the rare occasions when she had to leave the house, she made sure to have as little contact as possible with other people; on the other hand, she was so hungry that she felt nauseous. Peeking through the window, Margaret saw that the cafe was open but empty of customers. This was satisfactory, so she went in.
Inside was a display case filled with artfully presented pies, cakes, cookies, and an assortment of French pastries. Margaret whispered their names: Génoise à l'orange. Mousse au chocolat. Crème Brûlée. Roulade à la confiture. She felt better already. Hanging over the counter was a menu written on a large chalkboard which included sandwiches and soups as well as desserts.
An anorexic-looking girl with short blue-black hair and black lipstick was talking into a telephone behind the counter. "I don't give a shit, Jimmy," she was saying, her voice tense and hissing, "You CANNOT use the juicer at three o'clock in the morning, I don't care HOW aggravated your 'vata' is!" Margaret waved to get the girl's attention. "Gotta go. Bye."
The girl hung up and loped to the counter. "Yes," she enunciated through clenched teeth. "What can I get for you?"
"It all looks so good," Margaret said. On closer inspection of the girl's face, Margaret was alarmed to see that she was wearing a gold ring through her right nostril. She tried not to stare at it. "What is your soup of the day?"
"Split pea," the girl said, and sniffed.
God, Margaret thought, I hope she doesn't have a cold.
"Well, in that case . . . I'll take a slice of raspberry cheesecake, a slice of pear ganache, the crème brûlée, and the caramel flan."
Nose Ring began punching the buttons of a small calculator. Her fingernails were painted dark blue and sprinkled with glitter. They looked like miniature galaxies. "Do you want whipped cream on your flan?"
"Excuse me?" Margaret said. "Whipped what?"
"Cream. On the flan."
"No, thank you," Margaret said without thinking, but then, "I mean yes! Why not? Whipped cream!"
"Will that be all?"
"Tea, perhaps. Do you have peppermint tea?"
"Have a seat," Nose Ring said. "I'll bring it out when it's ready."
Margaret awaited her desserts. On the café walls there were several black-and-white photographs of empty buildings, streets, docks, parks. Margaret didn't much care for them. There were no people in the photographs, and something about the time of day the photographer chose or the angle at which he took the photos gave even the most benign landmarks-the Seattle-to-Bainbridge ferry, the pergola in Pioneer Square, the Smith Tower-a menacing, doomsday appearance. They made Seattle look like a ghost town, and they reminded Margaret of an old movie. . . . What was it? It took place in New York City; it was about the end of the world. . . . She had found the movie very disturbing, although she couldn't say why. She couldn't for the life of her remember the name of it.
"The World, the Flesh, and the Devil," said Nose Ring as she arrived at Margaret's table.
"That old black-and-white movie about the end of the world. You were saying that you couldn't remember the name of it."
"Uh-huh." Nose Ring began unloading dishes and tea things from a large tray. "Harry Belafonte, Inger Stevens, and Mel Ferrer. The World, the Flesh, and the Devil."
"Unless you mean On the Beach."
"I don't think so."
"Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Fred Astaire? Directed by Stanley Kramer."
"No . . . I would've remembered Fred Astaire."
"Or you could be thinking of Fail Safe. With Henry Fonda as the president."
"I think you were right the first time."
Nose Ring stood up straight and announced, "I'm a film student."
"I see." Margaret smiled and nodded. She made another effort not to look at Nose Ring's nose ring. "Well, that must be very interesting!"
Nose Ring sighed. "Do you have everything you need?"
"Yes! Thank you! It looks lovely."
Nose Ring resumed her place behind the counter.
Margaret took a small, yellowed photograph out of her wallet; it was a school picture of Daniel, taken when he was eight. She stared at it.
The whole thing was quite simple, really.
According to Robert Leising, MD, and the various other neurology, oncology, and so-on-colleagues with whom he had consulted, Margaret had a very common type of malignant brain tumor: an "astrocytoma." A slow-growing star. The traditional treatment was surgery followed by radiation.
"What's the prognosis?" she had asked.
"Well," and here Dr. Leising had pulled one of six sheets of film off the light board and scrutinized it, "your age is-?"
As if he doesn't know, Margaret thought. "Seventy-five."
"Seventy-five." Dr. Leising nodded thoughtfully. He glanced at Margaret before resuming his study of the film. "Depending on the characteristics of the tumor-which we can't clearly define without getting in there and removing as much of it as possible-with treatment you have a chance of living as long as several years or as little as two."
"How much of a chance?"
Dr. Leising didn't look up. "Twenty-five percent."
"That's with treatment?"
"What happens if we don't do anything?"
"I mean, if I only have a twenty-five percent chance of surviving this anyway, why don't we just leave it alone?"
"Maybe I haven't made myself clear, Margaret," Dr. Leising said, as if he were speaking to a nincompoop. That was when he resumed his discussion of Margaret's slices in a way that clearly constituted the American Medical Association's form of filibustering.
So, this was her choice: She could either undergo a lot of treatment and die, sooner or later, or she could undergo no treatment at all and die, sooner or later.
"Is something wrong?" Nose Ring had returned. "You haven't tried anything."
Margaret swallowed hard. Now that all of this lovely food was in front of her, she found that she wasn't hungry after all. She took a sip of tea, just to be polite.
"Is that your grandson?" Nose Ring asked, leaning closer. "Cute."
She's quite a young girl beneath all that makeup, Margaret realized. And much too thin. "Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
Nose Ring shrugged. "What is it?"
"Well, it's a rather trite question, I suppose, but if you found out that you had only a short while to live, maybe a year or two, how would you spend your time?"
The girl frowned. She picked absentmindedly at her fingernails, and showers of silver glitter flaked off and fell toward the floor. Margaret tried to follow the trajectory of the glitter, but it seemed to vanish into thin air.
"I suppose I'd think about whatever it is that scares me the most-relationshipwise, I mean-and then do it. Do the opposite of what I've always done."
Margaret studied Nose Ring. She'd always assumed that people who embraced dramatic vogues in fashion were actually compensating for an innate dullness of character or chronic insecurity. She'd expected someone who looked like Nose Ring to offer a superficial answer to her rather trite question: "Take up hang-gliding! Sail around the world! Race hot-air balloons!" Something along those lines.
"It would be a last chance, wouldn't it?" the girl went on. "To break all your old bad habits?" She caught herself worrying her hands and promptly stopped. "Well anyway, here's your bill. Pay whenever you're ready." She made her way back to the counter, looking pensive.
Margaret contemplated her own habits. She stared at Daniel's photo. He had been at that age when most children are self-conscious in front of a camera. But in this picture his expression was relaxed, serious, and sage. "You can see exactly what he's going to look like when he's twenty!" Margaret remembered saying to Stephen all those years ago, when the package they'd ordered came home from school: one 8x10, two 5x7s, four 3x5s, and many, many billfolds.
But Daniel would never be twenty. The 8x10 remained unframed. The billfolds were never passed out to school friends and teachers. Margaret wondered if Stephen still kept a photograph of their son in his wallet, along with pictures he surely carried of the children he had with his second wife. His living children.
"Jimbo?" Nose Ring was on the telephone, speaking gently. "I'm sorry I yelled before. . . . Yeah, I know. . . . I love you, too. You want me to pick up some Häagen-Dazs on the way home? . . . No, I'm not kidding."
Maybe it was time for a change. A commuted sentence. Margaret had no difficulty knowing what was required. Daniel stared back at her, without forgiveness, but without condemnation, either, his eyes alight with the detached, loving wisdom of a little monk. Margaret tucked the photograph back into her pocketbook, sipped her tea, and waited until Nose Ring hung up the telephone.
"Excuse me, dear," she called across the room. "Have you a pen I might borrow?"
"Sure. Are you a writer?"
"Oh, no," Margaret said automatically. "I'm . . ." I'm anything I want to be, she thought. Anything at all. "I'm the woman who invented the garlic press!"
"Ah." Nose Ring handed over her pen. "I'll get more hot water for your tea."
"Thank you, dear. That's very kind."
Margaret turned over the bill and began writing. "Room for rent in large Capitol Hill home. $250. All utilities included. Month-to-month. Private bath . . ." By the time she was satisfied with the ad, her appetite was back. She started with the crème brûlée.
Magnifique! she thought, not minding that the café had begun to fill up with customers and she was no longer alone. C'est parfait.
Before she actually placed the ad she would have to ask permission. Of course she would. She couldn't just willy-nilly start taking in boarders without consulting her housemates. After all, they'd lived together practically forever. She'd tended their needs, kept them pristine and perfect, sheltered them. With the exception of those few intervening years when Stephen and Daniel had shared the house, they'd had her completely to themselves. Her devotion was unquestionable. Still, she knew they'd feel threatened. They'd never stand for a unilateral decision. It would take finesse, skill, and diplomacy to pull this off. What she intended would be a hard sell.
Of course, they'd want to know what was in it for them. They'd have a point. She'd have to come up with something.
Praise? Admiration? That might be an incentive. They'd be in contact with another set of human eyes. What could be the harm in that? They'd be ogled and applauded by someone besides her. That should be enough for the vast majority. Most of them were a bit shallow anyway. Fools for flattery. Yes, that could work. And she'd never take on anyone clumsy or bullish, that was certain. The more diffident among them could be reassured about that. They'd be in no danger.
So there. That was settled.
The next question was, how would she broach the subject? And who would she speak to first? Who would be the most receptive to change?
Not the soup tureens; as a group, they were consistently unimaginative and stodgy. The game pie dishes at least had a sense of humor, but they were cowardly, and always took sides with anything lidded. Which eliminated the teapots and casseroles and so on. It was very tricky, as the lot of them were quite cliquish. All of the figurines were out; in spite of her best efforts, she could never manage to address them without sounding condescending, and they resented her for it. One or two of the teacups might be sympathetic. She also considered the gold-encrusted inkstands, who, for all their decorative excess, had always struck her as fair-minded and sensible.
But, no. The others would never be convinced by anything so diminutive as an inkstand. She'd need an ally that was at the very least physically impressive. Objects responded to things like size and blunt speech. Margaret roamed the rooms of the house in her mind's eye: the Aviary Suite, Bonbon Dish Room, Smoke and Snuff Room . . .
Aha! She had it. The pair of Qing Dynasty garden seats. They'd be perfect. Large and commanding, with their sea-green celadon glaze, they were not only elegant but wise and plain-speaking. The fact that they once sat in the open air had given them more free-thinking views. And if all that weren't enough, there was the added prestige of their appraised value: eight thousand dollars each. The other garden seats were worth five thousand or less. If she could win over the Qing twins, Margaret knew, they'd get everyone to give her a fair hearing.
Margaret reviewed her defense. She headed out to the sunny atrium (also known as the Chinese Garden Seat Room), cleaning flannel in hand. She'd surprise all of them with a thorough polishing first to get in their good graces. Then she would plead her case to the Qings.
Copyright © 2004 by Stephanie Kallos. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reading Group Guide
1. How is Margaret portrayed in the beginning? Who is this woman who is entombed in a vast, carefully dusted house with her father's collection? An unlikely heroine, she is an old, peculiar recluse. How is her diagnosis an inciting force for change? Talk about her growing appreciation of the uncommonness of common things.
2. In the clamor of the first armload of plate crashing, Wanda "suddenly knew that she had found a home with someone who was as deeply aggrieved and crazy as she was. It was tremendously comforting" (p. 133). How does the Hughes house, truly a sanatorium, provide a haven and structure for these women to pass through madness to sanity? Can you think of other books or plays that explore the same theme?
3. When Wanda reflects on her life in the theater, she says, "You're part of this intense family for a while, and then everyone moves on" (p. 165). How does Troy shift the rules? What is different about the steady accretion of people at the Hughes house?
4. How much is it possible to know another person? What are the limitations imposed on characters in Broken for You, both by accidents of history and by their own actions? Even with breakthroughs of knowledge and trust, do any characters keep a part that is private? Which ones? Margaret and Wanda, for instance, as close as they are, each retain core secrets until almost the end. Why? And what are the secrets? Why does M. J. Striker withhold his own secret and recognition so long?
5. What do we learn about Margaret's mother? How does she function in the book? Were you reminded of Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit? In her visitations, what is her value to Margaret? There is high comedy in her shenanigans. "Oh, Margaret really! You must enjoy this hoopla while you can. Believe me when I tell you it's no fun being part of a scandal after you're dead" (p. 289). Is Margaret working something else out in these spectral appearances? (The visits of Daniel are fewer and very different. How?)
6. Did you find conflicts between traditional values and newer ones? Where? Which characters grow larger or more sympathetic from being challenged by younger people? Does the converse hold?
7. How is the theme of the quest important in the book? Which characters commit themselves to seeking someone lost? What are the results? Who abandons the quest and why? Are there surprising rewards?
8. Parenting is explored in various characters' stories. Discuss Oscar, Margaret, and Michael as parents. Others? How is the idea of surrogate parenting developed? How successful is it?
9. "Once the door is open . . . you can't shut it again, impose limits, set degrees of openness . . ." (p. 126). In what ways do Margaret and Wanda, and later Gus and M.J., irrevocably make themselves available and vulnerable to life?
10. What does it mean to bear witness in this book? "Margaret had been given the privilege of bearing witness to Wanda's life" (p. 126). What other characters participate in this act? What are the larger ramifications of bearing witness, and why does it matter? For instance, why does it matter to honor the dead and find out their stories and try to fulfill their wishes?
11. Talk about the title. To how many characters and things and ways of life does it pertain? What is meant by a "dissolution of borders" on page 269?
12. How is the star motif expanded in the book? Think about the star imagery from Margaret to l942 school children in Europe. (See page 282 for some of Margaret's own thoughts on the subject. And see page 290 for a further amplification of the symbol.)
13. "The Hughes Collection Scandal: Desecration or Deification?" (p. 278). What do you think about the central occupation in the book? Art? Or half-crazed mayhem? What do Wanda's pieces say about her as an artist? What does the media criticism of her work say about the art? "Consider the artist's point of view" (p. 293). Do you accept the premise that salvation or restitution may come through destruction and loss-and moving on? Which characters find their own salvation through building up others?
14. How does the Crazy Plate Academy serve as a culmination of the process that has gone on through the book? "Sorting was like beachcombing on a shore where every pebble is precious and time is boundless. And the familiar way everyone chatted-so many hands in constant, purposeful, attentive motion-gave Margaret the feeling of being at a quilting bee, a barn raising, or a wake" (pp. 327-328). What do these activities, certainly disparate, have in common?
15. How does the fact that neither Margaret nor Wanda is Jewish affect their joint efforts vis-à-vis the Holocaust victims and memories? When does expiation for her Nazi-sympathizer father become important for Margaret? Do you agree that "at the center of this controversy is the concept of worth: what we as humans value-and why" (p. 280)? When Margaret is researching Irma's past in Paris, she realizes, "Bodies had been shattered and things had not" (p. 313). How directly does her involvement in the making of tesserae correct this imbalance? Does the appearance of the Jewish patron Babs Cohen add credibility to the undertaking? Discuss other times Judaism appears in the novel. Think about, for instance, Sam Kosminsky singing in Hebrew at dinner, the background imagery of Kristallnacht (p. 227), the museum in Paris, and Bruce singing the blessing.
16. Irma Kosminsky is the most vocal proponent for doing mitzvahs. What are some of them? How do you explain her life-affirming resilience and sense of humor? How does she explain it? In a conversation with M.J. we hear "Why bother, Mrs. K? . . . We both know you're going to win" (p. 274). Apart from Scrabble, how else does Irma "win" in the book?
17. Discuss Stephanie Kallos's definition of a relationship: "a marvel of construction, built up over time and out of fragments of shared experience . . . Maybe we feel such a strong kinship with pique assiette because it is the visual metaphor that best describes us; after all, we spend much of our lives hurling bits of the figurative and literal past into the world's landfill-and then regret it. We build our identities from that detritus of regret. Every relationship worth keeping sustains, at the very least, splintered glazes, hairline fractures, cracks. And aren't these flaws the prerequisites of intimacy?" (p. 295). Do you find this an alarming view of human behavior? Or do you find it oddly comforting?
18. What is the significance of the Sevre chocolate service? How is the mystery resolved? What is the story of the single teacup? "It was like that all through the war, things like that, little things that people did" (p. 321). What ultimately is the fate of the tête-à-tête?
19. How is the poetry of Yeats interwoven in the book? Why in particular should it be Yeats who recurs?
20. What were the funniest parts of the book for you? Think of Irma, with her dry survivor wit as well as her bolder humor. Recall Maurice, whose clumsiness is a boon in the Hughes house. And Margaret's outrageous mother. Talk about other moments of high or low comedy.
21. How are love and sex recurring symbols of healing and joy? Think about specific relationships, those that survive and those that don't. Describe M.J.'s loves, both as Striker and as O'Casey. How do you compare young love to that of older people? Why does Wanda wait so long to accept Troy as her lover? What does the parenthood of Susan and Bruce say about love, sex, and family?
22. The china, both whole and in pieces, generates stories, such as the ice-fishing ninety-two-year-old Alta Fogle. "Maybe this is true. Maybe not. You can never be sure: all objects in the Hughes house have to have meaning, and if their past is not known, stories are invented" (p. 337). In chapter thirty-two, the narrator addresses the reader directly, as if one were M. J. Striker approaching the Hughes house. "Pay attention. Let your mind embrace metaphors. It's your first clue about what goes on here" (p. 337). How do these quotations help us understand multiple levels of the story? Is the making of mosaic art also a metaphor for writing stories, the novel, for instance?
23. Did you find the dream sequences effective in conjuring up the memories and surreal perceptions of the injured Wanda and the dying Margaret? As a reader was it hard for you to suspend disbelief in a kind of free fall? Have you encountered magic realism in other books? In the third dream sequence, Margaret approaches Wanda. "Be happy. . . . We're worth more broken" (p. 348). How is the last line of Margaret's dream, "The balloon arcs up forever, into the night sky, past millions of glittering stars" (p. 350), magically apt?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
From reading other reviews it is clear you either love this book or feel completely removed from it. I wouldn't say I hated it, because I just don't care enough to feel that strongly about it. I heard great things about this book and have tried at least six times to read it. I've read more than half of it, but just don't care about the characters enough to finish. I find the writing tedious and the story is completely unbelievable. I can't relate at all, and generally I would say I'm highly empathetic. So, buyer beware. Might want to check this out at Barnes and Noble store and read a chapter before buying. I would NEVER recommend this, although clearly lots of people disagree.
This was a selection for our book club. I'm so glad they chose it! It is an excellent book. Great depth to the characters. Interesting the way she pulled characters together that you couldn't imagine how they were connected. Broken pieces were put back together into something new and beautiful.
I enjoyed this book. Heartwarming.
I have to say this is one of my all time favorites, the author knows how to create a story one can believe. Reminiscent of John Irving. Buy it now.
This book has it all! Romance! Dispair! New beginnings! Art! Nazis! History! Laughter! Pathos! Very skillfully told tale of two unlikely roommates and their past, present and future lives. I have recommended it to many friends. This writer is worth following.
This is a book about history, and about redemption. A series of coincidences lands the reader directly in the world of a young woman searching for true love, who crosses paths with an old woman just served with a death sentence. The 2 discover purpose and joy in each other's lives.
The story line is good but starts slow. The characters are likeable and believable.
I have told several people about this book, shared my copy, and bought one for someone else. Outstanding character development. Wonderful protrayal of shattered lives coming together into something greater than the individuals. Also appreciated the theme of what possessions mean to us.
I figured that this would be a good hut depressing read- one woman is diagnosed with a brain tumor, the other was just dumped- but at the end of the story, (even though I was crying), I still felt uplifted. The book was a little wordy at times, and the story a little far-fetched, but I would still recommend it. I felt the writing style to be unique and the characters well written and endearing.
I picked this book for our bookclub read and I personally loved this book. While theoretically the plot is a little far-fetched, I enjoyed the writing and found myself becoming attached to the two main characters. I was especially moved at the very end and found myself crying. Books don't normally move me like that. It's a good read - don't give up on it.
This is our book club read for the month of July. I was not looking forward to reading the book after reading some of the reviews however, there has not been a book in quite some time that hooked me as this book did. Never mind that some of the situations seem too easy and that the friendships are formed quickly. This book reminds us how vulnerable we are, how we become who we are, how others influence us. And how, ultimately, we are changed by those who we touch and those who touch us. Give it a whirl, you won't regret the ride.
Incredible book! The characters, especially Margaret's dead mother and son, are very well developed. The plot is about a WHOLE lot more than broken china......highly enjoyable read!!!
I loved this book because I didn't ever know quite where it was going and from the first sentence I just let the author take me there.
Margaret discovers she has about two years to live. Weighted down by the responsibility of the house and possessions she inherited from her father, she decides to share with others. First to arrive is Wanda Shulz whose present and past teems with secrets. The ghost of Margaret's mother haunts the place, critisizing her daughter. The spectre of Wanda's father seeps into the story.
This story was pretty good and Margaret a nice character. I liked the first part of the book best and felt the second with all those strangers getting along so well a little unbelievable, to say the least.
This book was a little difficult to get into at first, but it was well worth the effort. I wish the author had told us a bit more at the end about the relationship between two of the characters at the end (It's difficult to explain that statement without spoiling the book.)
Margaret is an older woman who has lived alone in a mansion for a very long time. She finds out she has cancer and then decides to start taking in boarders. Wanda is her first boarder. Her boyfriend has broken up with her and she needs somewhere else to stay. The women hit it off and slowly reveal their secrets to one another. Margaret starts taking in other boarders and soon a surrogate family is developed.I really liked this first novel by Kallos--especially the first and and last parts of the book. The middle section I didn't much care for, or I would have rated this a 4.5. Also, there was quite a bit of s * x and language that I didn't like. I did like how Margaret and Wanda not only forge a strong friendship but also start "really living" for the first time after they meet each other. There is much more to this novel that I don't want to give away. I really did like the storyline, but it did seem like there were a few too many coincidences at the end. Overall, a fantastic first effort!
I love this book. The second half has some challenging plot twists. But the writing is beautiful, even delicious, and the characters well developed. Finding believable older women characters lovingly portrayed along with an eclectic assortment of interesting folks of all ages was heartwarming. I hope she writes more books as good as this one.
This was beautifully written book. Only the second book so far this year to give me goosebumps while reading the conclusion.
A young woman moves in to a room offered by an old woman in and old house. The house seems to rock under the weight of the ceramic and porcelain figures it holds. When the young woman has a devastating accident, her home stay is facilitated by the old woman and a chef who also lives in the house. The book finishes in a staggeringly beautiful way with the younger woman discovering her true artist, and the older woman discovering her redemption.
I listened to this from Audible--it was a slow, slow start and I almost gave up on it. It did gain momentum and turned out to be a decent story. Not one I would read again or put on the top of a recommended list.
I loved this book. The author turned a story that could have been morbid and depressing into something uplifting. Yes, I shed a couple of tears here and there, but over-all this story is about fixing what's broken. It is one of my all-time favorites and one I recommend to all my friends!
Margaret Hughes has lived alone in a large Seattle mansion filled with valuable antiques. Now living with a diagnosis of a brain tumor, Margaret decides to expand her life by taking a boarder into her home. Her choice is Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart and a desire to find her former boyfriend. At first the women seem to continue living their separate lives, making no demands upon each other. But as the crack in the wall between them expands, so does their horizons, pulling more quirky people into their lives.It has taken me awhile to write a review, because I was unsure how I felt about the book. If you had asked me when I was in the first half, I would have said it was boring. The second half was better. But I have found it to be one of those books that has grown on me after the reading. In particular, I find I have great sympathy with Margaret, as she was left being ¿the keeper of the stuff¿ from her childhood. Though not on the same scale, I, too, was continuously reminded of the value of all the ¿stuff¿ that was being left to me. And I don¿t find Margaret¿s decision to start breaking things as strange at all, as I, also, pictured myself standing on a third floor balcony dropping an expensive statue. I didn¿t do it, but it sure was tempting.
love the "broken" characters in this book. the writing was superb!
"WONDERFUL" I loved this book and had it been possible, I would have given it another star I think I would describe this as a Fairy Tale for adults, or even a Fable. Usually I like to imagine the looks of characters in my own mind, but I even appreciated the cover! I'm not sure I ever could have come up with the perfect Wanda, but there she is on the cover!