The Widower's Notebook

The Widower's Notebook

by Jonathan Santlofer


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Written with unexpected humor and great warmth, The Widower's Notebook is a portrait of a marriage, an account of the complexities of finding oneself single again after losing your spouse, and a story of the enduring power of familial love.

"This is deeply moving ... beautifully written and modulated, with a dollop of droll, black humor. It is such an achievement, like running uphill against a strong wind."—Joyce Carol Oates

On a summer day in New York Jonathan Santlofer discovers his wife, Joy, gasping for breath on their living room couch. After a frenzied 911 call, an ambulance race across Manhattan, and hours pacing in a hospital waiting room, a doctor finally delivers the fateful news. Consumed by grief, Jonathan desperately tries to pursue life as he always had—writing, social engagements, and working on his art—but finds it nearly impossible to admit his deep feelings of loss to anyone, not even his to beloved daughter, Doria, or to himself.

As Jonathan grieves and heals, he tries to unravel what happened to Joy, a journey that will take him nearly two years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143132493
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/10/2018
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 620,312
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Santlofer is a writer and artist. His debut novel, The Death Artist, was an international bestseller, translated into seventeen languages, and is currently in development for screen adaptation. His fourth novel, Anatomy of Fear, won the Nero Award for best novel of 2009. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. He is also the creator and editor of several anthologies including It Occurs to Me That I Am America, a collection of original stories and art. His paintings and drawings are included in many public and private collections. He lives in New York City.

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Excerpted from "The Widower's Notebook"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Jonathan Santlofer.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

When Joy Santlofer died suddenly, the day after a seemingly minor knee surgery, her husband, Jonathan, felt, in a word, unmoored. “I had lost my anchor,” he writes. “I was at sea, floating and floundering.” Thrust suddenly into the unfamiliar and unforgiving world of all-encompassing grief, Jonathan found himself in need of help but unable to ask for it. After all, men are too often taught to be strong, to be stoic, or, at the very least, to act like it.

As Jonathan grieved and healed, he tried to unravel what exactly had happened to Joy, a journey that took him nearly two years of writing, drawing, and binge-watching Netflix into the wee hours of the morning. A story of love and loss, the enduring power of familial love, regrets and reinvention, The Widower’s Notebook is an important addition to the literature of grief, and one that shines a light on an often-overlooked side of loss.

1. The opening pages show how time and the world itself seem to collapse in moments of trauma. Have you ever experienced anything like this?

2. As Jonathan discusses in the book, men and women are often presumed to have different ways of grieving. Do you feel that this is so? Discuss the different ways we all grieve as well as the similarities.

3. If you have experienced loss, what did you find was helpful for coping and healing in your process?

4. Jonathan began to draw and write as two outlets of processing his grief. Do you have any creative outlets you turn to in difficult times, or what might you try as a new creative process to help deal with trauma or grief?

5. Jonathan’s friends proved to be a mixed bag when it came to advice and support. What do you think is the best way friends can support those who are grieving?

6. Lily, Joy’s cat, becomes an unlikely close companion in Jonathan’s days of grief. Why do you think it is sometimes easier to connect with pets and animals when we are going through difficult times?

7. The Widower’s Notebook has quite a bit of humor as well as sadness. How does Jonathan use humor? To express his grief, to deflect it, or for another purpose entirely?

8. “Do we overcome grief? The answer, for me, is not really” (p. 243). Reflect on this statement.

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