An Available Manby Wolitzer, Hilma
Set in New York City, this is a funny, perceptive love story about a high school teacher's journey from grief to new love after the death of his wife. Edward Schuyler is a healthy, well-respected man in his early sixties. Following Bee's death from cancer, he is bombarded with food and attention from his wife's single friends and responses to a personal ad his children place in a magazine. At his first party with old friends after Bee's death, he is blindsided when one of the women physically throws herself at him. To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that an available man of a certain age is a great catch. Or as Bee said to Edward toward the end of her life, "Look at you. They'll be crawling out of the woodwork."
Wolitzer uses flashbacks to provide insight into Bee's down-to-earth character, as Edward draws on Bee's sharp social observations to navigate his new world. These flashbacks also reveal the intimate, domestic details of a comfortable home and loving marriage. Edward is an appealing, vulnerable character confused by his grief and single status after years of marriage. His family, including a stepdaughter and stepson involved in their own dramas, his humorous but grieving mother-in-law, and his colleagues at work add depth and color to Edward's history. The New York City setting and the cultural manners of educated urban dwellers are finely rendered by Wolitzer's descriptions. An Available Man is a good choice for readers who have enjoyed novels such as The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine and Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman or for fans of Nora Ephron's movies.
Reviewed by ds, 05/12. Other reviews by ds. Have you read this book? Tell us what you think!