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Sarah Lucas imagined the rest of her days would be spent living peacefully in her rural Vermont home in the steadfast company of her husband. But now, with Charles's sudden passing, seventy-five-year-old Sarah is left inconsolably alone.

As grief settles in, Sarah's mind lingers on her past: her imperfect but devoted fifty-year marriage to Charles; the years they spent raising their three very different children; and her childhood during the Great Depression, when her parents opened their home to countless relatives and neighbors. So, when a variety of wayward souls come seeking shelter in Sarah's own big, empty home, her past comes full circle. As this unruly flock forms a family of sorts, they—with Sarah—nurture and protect one another, all the while discovering their unsuspected strengths and courage.

In the tradition of Jane Smiley and Sue Miller, Kate Maloy has crafted a wise and gratifying novel about a woman who gracefully accepts a surprising new role just when she though her best years were behind her.

Topics: Love and Grief

Published: Workman eBooks on
ISBN: 9781565129467
List price: $13.95
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I love Vermont and Vermonters, even though I doubt I could live through the winter and mud seasons year after year...I did, however, thoroughly enjoy this book. The one subplot that did not really fit and was not fully developed revolved around Josie. I feel the author more or less threw it in to introduce the issue of domestic abuse. The novel did not need it. Better to read novels by Chris Bohjalian to get an in-depth look at specific social issues, ranging from homelessness to abortion...more
I really liked the characters and setting in the book. But, the author was a bit preachy about issues, even though I agreed with her. Also the dramatic conclusion was too much for the tone of the story.more
Charles and Sarah are an older married couple who’ve raised three children. Like most marriages, theirs has had its ups and downs, but they’ve settled into a happy, comfortable routine. Their three children are grown and successful, but Charles struggles with his relationship with their son David and Sarah and their daughter Charlotte have their differences. Their other son, Tom brings home a lovely young woman and life seems good.When Charles passes away unexpectedly, Sarah finds herself at loose ends. Things that she deemed so important at one time (a clean house, great meals, etc) no longer interest her. There’s a small cabin on Sarah’s property and when a friend asks her to allow her cousin to live in it and write, Sarah reluctantly agrees. Sarah’s daughter, Charlotte, and granddaughter, Lottie, are having trouble getting along so Sarah permits Lottie to move in with her.Lottie persuades Sarah to allow several of her friends to move in and from there, things mushroom, and Sarah finds herself providing a safe haven for “every last cuckoo.”The beginning of Every Last Cuckoo, by Kate Maloy, is told in a non-linear fashion so it took me a while to discover where the story was going. The family dynamics were very believable because they’re so well written. I felt like the ups and downs in Charles and Sarah’s marriage were so realistic too. Even though I’m not as old as Kate, I could relate to her and was so glad when she discovered the wisdom she had inside. I enjoyed this well written book, but found the middle to be a little be too philosophical for me and the ending a little bit long and predictable.more
After more than fifty years, the marriage of Sarah and Charles Lucas has settled in to a comfortable rhythm. The tempo of their relationship, however, has not been steady—excitement, sadness, love, and coolness have all affected the pace.At seventy-five years old, Sarah has seen six generations of her family and is looking forward to great-grandchildren so she can be in the exact middle of all the relatives she’ll ever remember. And although she knows death, from the tragically young to the grateful old, she is not prepared to face sudden widowhood, especially because Charles was still so vigorous.The story of Sarah's first year of the last quarter of her life crosses time and pushes boundaries. Familiar chores cease to have meaning, and old wounds no longer matter. Memories can be so startling that it seems as if they were able to stop time. Yet without thought or score, new tempos take over in almost incremental steps, and one day, life seems to be bursting with possibility.Every Last Cuckoo examines much more than death and grieving; it is a novel about life, families, relationships, and personal growth. It's about learning to recognize that almost everyone, no matter his or her age or situation, has something to teach us. And throughout we are treated to Maloy's evocative prose.While looking in the mirror:Sarah took in the evidence of age not knowing whether to laugh or cry. How many girls and women she had been—she carried a multitude inside who shared only memory and character traits. (p. 200)The widowed Sarah recalls this advice:"I promise, you will survive this," she had said. "Not only that, you will learn things you could never have learned when you shared your life with him. You will become yourself." (p. 224)And three random quotations:The day after Christmas, flakes as light as torn tissue eddied in the middle air. (p. 63)After the spring rains came down, the dirt roads braided themselves with glistening, axle-deep ruts full of sucking mud. (p. 119)The gap between the two ridges to the southeast was a bowl full of fog. (p. 184)Through Sarah's transformation and adaptation to a newly composed life, Maloy has brilliantly captured one woman's path to rediscovery and an unexpected purpose.Whether you approve of Sarah's choices, agree with how she relates to her children, or understand the individual philosophies of her friends and family, Every Last Cuckoo will give you plenty to think about and discuss. I highly recommend this book, no matter where you are on life's journey.Kate Maloy has a website where you can learn more about her work.Every Last Cuckoo won the ALA's Reader List Award for Women's Fictiomore
Sarah and Charles Lucas have created a long and generally happy life for themselves in the large Vermont house where they raised their children. And they have settled in for a contented retirement when Charles unexpectedly dies. Sarah finds herself drifting through her days until her granddaughter and friends move into the house. Then comes a woman and child who have lost everything in a fire. The cousin of an old friend moves into the guest house, needing quiet and solitude. The daughter and gradnson of an acquaintance escape an abusive situation by moving into Sarah's. And Sarah starts to come back to life with this newly created family inhabiting her home and her grounds.Told in two seperate sections, starting with the Lucas' life before Charles' death, part one ends in the past, picking up part two with the memorial service and the emptiness now pervading Sarah's life. Maloy has written both the portrait of a good, solid marriage and of one partner's painful coming back to life after the death of her husband. The characters are flawed and real and utterly sympathetic. Their interactions, especially Sarah's with her children, echo the interactions of people the world round. While the Lucas house might be a place of healing for so many of the lost souls who congregate with Sarah, it is clear that this is just one stop on their path and that Sarah and her determination to find meaning in the life left to her is the main focus of the story. She is a strong and graceful character for whom the reader can't help but root, even as we see her frustrations and watch her admit her past mistakes. The narrative covers much loss but has a tender and lovely feel to it that draws readers in and keeps them engaged with the story each and every page. I very much enjoyed this book about lasting love, family, loss, and going on in spite of and because of what happens in life.more
Sarah and Charles Lucas have been married for somewhere around 50 years when he died unexpectedly. Although their marriage had its rough patches, it was by and large a happy one.“Every Last Cuckoo” is a story of family and of finding your purpose in life. Although we know early on that Charles is going to die, the first half of the story goest back and forth between the period leading up to Charles’ death and the day of the event itself. The Lucases have a very normal family: nobody is having an out and out feud, but different children are closer to and more comfortable with different parents, there are some strained relationships, and everyone generally wants the best for everyone else. They all gather together for holidays, but don’t always have the smoothest gatherings.When Charles passes away, Sarah has to learn to live without him both with the help of and in spite of her family. She falls, not completely of her own volition, into relationships with a variety of different people, all of whom show her that life is indeed worth living, even without her husband of so many years.I really enjoyed this book. It was a read I just fell into. The best phrase I can use to describe “Every Last Cuckoo” is ‘comfortable,’ as ridiculous as it may sound, the book was a like a cozy old sweater. When I read the plot synopsis on the back of the book I was a bit afraid that the situations through which Sarah was going to end up in relationship with all of these people after Charles’ death would be contrived and silly, that she would come out seeming like some old hippy at a commune. Luckily that was not the case. Each of these relationships seemed to come about naturally, I never felt as if the author was intervening to MAKE anything happen, it simply felt like she was relating a story that happened in the way that it had to happen. When you consider that I am at the opposite end of life as Sarah - newly married with a first baby on the way to her 50 or so years of marriage and nearly-grown grandchildren - it is amazing how connected to her character I was.Maloy has a lot of talent and has written a wonderful little novel. I definitely recommend this one. It also might make a good book for book clubs.more
Kate Maloy has written a story off loss and survival following loss. Maybe "thriving" is a better word than survival. In the novel, Sarah and Charles are a retired, older couple, enjoying their days together in Vermont. As we know from life, everything changes, and Sarah's life changes forever when her husband dies suddenly.However, change always has the possibility for good in it, and as Sarah heals from her loss, discovers more of herself because of it, she also finds room and love for others that need healing of their own. She takes in teenagers, young families in trouble, strangers who need a place of quiet. They build their own community, in the truest sense, and as a reader, you're welcomed within their world yourself.This book is well and thoughtfully written. I'm not sure how much I would've enjoyed it when I was younger, but now that I'm middle-aged, I can see how all of the emotions in the novel are possible and are, indeed, a part of life if you let yourself be open.more
When I reached the end of this book, I thought, Wow, this lady sure went through a lot in the last year. From losing her husband to finding herself after her loss, Sara’s story made me both laugh and cry. The descriptions of both the characters and the Vermont landscapes that Kate Maloy uses throughout the book are beautifully written and made the scenery and characters almost touchable. I enjoyed reading about Sara watching her children grow up and eventually grow into likenesses of her and her husband. I was also touched by the strength that Sara drew from her boarders and how she was able to deal with the loss of her husband and overcome her own fear of death through them. I will definitely pass this book on!more
I got Every Last Cuckoo as an Early Reviewers book and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I got so into the characters and their lives. I felt Sarah's pain and grief over losing her husband, her anger and guilt with her daughter Charlotte and her guidance and watching over all the people that end up living in her house after Charles' death. I also enjoyed how the author portrayed all the other characters: Lottie, Charlotte, Sandy & Tyler, Lotties friends, and Mordechai, and their interaction with each other and with Sarah. It was so nice to see Sarah's grief ease a little as she became more involved with all her boarders. This book would make a great book club pick. I highly recommend it.more
This book follows Sarah, an elderly woman living in Vermont with her husband, Charles. Charles passes away about midway through the book, and the remainder of the story surrounds Sarah's grief and the ways in which she handles it. I'll admit I struggled to get through the first half of the book--there were very lengthy descriptions of the natural Vermont settings, and it was difficult to keep the many characters straight, especially because most of them had very common names (Charles, Tom, David, etc.). However, as harsh as this realization may sound, the narration seemed to blossom after Charles's death. It was still difficult to keep the newly introduced characters straight, but the scenes resonated more within this half--the descriptions focused on the people in Sarah's life rather than on nature or awkwardly presented flashbacks. While I did feel satisfied upon completion of the story, there were still situations and characters about which I wanted more information. The relationship between David and Tess intrigued me from the start; I would have liked to see more of them in the second half of the story. David's disruptive behavior as a teenager (referred to when similar situations arose involving other characters) had obviously been put to rest as he grew closer with his new family. I wanted to know more about the beginning of David's relationship with Tess, to see how he had matured beyond his previous mistakes. I did feel a genuine happiness for his marriage to Tess and the arrival of their new baby at the end of the book.I was slightly disappointed with the direction in which Sarah's relationship with Lottie went. In the first half of the book, it was clear that these two women were very close. However, once Lottie moved in with her grandmother (bringing her friends too), this relationship seemed to be overshadowed by the many people living there. I had hoped that more of their friendship would show. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about complex human relationships. It's different from other typical family dramatic literature in that its story is told from the point of view of a member of an older generation. Seeing the elderly female narrator adapt her lifestyle and habits to coincide with those of both teenagers and middle-aged women was interesting.more
I hated when Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy ended—the sign of a truly good book! I wanted to learn more about characters that I had come to feel I knew. The characters are so well drawn and fully fleshed out that it doesn’t take long before you feel you know them and would be more than happy to have them in your home. This is the story of Sarah and her long marriage to Charles. After Sarah loses Charles to an accident, we see Sarah’s devastating grief, feel her despair. But circumstances keep Sarah from isolating herself with her grief. Sarah starts taking in struggling and lost souls, people who need a place to rest and recuperate from what life has handed them. And while Sarah still grieves for Charles, she becomes comfortable in this new part of her life.I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a warm-hearted story of love and loss, living your life the best way you can under hard circumstances. Ms. Maloy has done a truly outstanding job with this book and I look forward to more books by her.more
I really enjoyed this book - though in some ways I was predisposed to like it... I received the book (free) through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program and the book I'd just finished was a real struggle. I found this book an easy and enjoyable read. Sarah, the woman at the center of the story and from whose point of view the story is told, is 75 (25 years my senior) but I found I identified with her fear of loss and death and her wonder (or puzzlement?) with the passage of time and her place in it. The story covers a little over a year of her life - a momentous year during which her husband dies and she finds her way past her grief. In doing so she conquers her fear of death and opens herself to whatever life brings her. Perhaps the story is a little too pat, but it drew me in completely, had characters I cared about, and left me with things to think about.more
I'm torn by this book. I love the idea of the story and the characters and their interconnections. But we were told about the characters, not shown them. Therefore a depth and richness was missing that would have brought this fine book to the level of a great book. Luckily the second half of the book raised the bar and brought more detail to the character's interactions. The first half was a bit tedious as all the characters were set up. It was definitely worth reading, but the writing was more technical than artistic.more
This is a book much stronger on character and description than on plot. The plot falls down in several places, including Sarah's too-short mourning period and the gratuitous discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the author's power of description and ability to bring the reader into the scene are tremendous. For readers looking for a tightly woven plot, I wouldn't recommend this book. But for readers looking for scenes that will draw them in and make them feel like part of the family, this is a great book!more
While the idea of a novel with compelling older characters is what led me to this book, the characters themselves are not as real or human as I would have wished. The real problem lies with Sarah, the main character, who was inspired by the author's aunt. If one is looking for a valedictory to a beloved aunt, behold Sarah. If one is looking for a well-rounded character whose laudable virtues are balanced by true human-ness, flaws and failings, behold ... well, perhaps the minor character of Charlotte, Sarah's daughter, but even she is merely limned.Too often what could have been a rich narrative is bogged down with dropped threads, philosophical maunderings, gratuitous descriptions, and "the little darlings" of polished gem-like phrases that stand out like sore thumbs rather than flowing naturally from any rhythm of prose. I wanted nothing more than a blue pencil, to tone down the language that was too obviously labored over, to direct the author back to interesting ideas or characters who deserved to be brought along, to point to other plot developments or characters whose appearance was sudden, and sometimes even silly. I persevered until the end, hoping something would happen to tie off the many dangling conversations and redeem the bits and pieces that did succeed, but instead I closed it with a great deal of irritation. There is a novel about the wealth of wisdom and experience amassed over a lifetime, about family relationships that must evolve and change as life intervenes... this one trumpets that it is that one, but beneath the brassy fanfare lies a squawking mess.more
Every Last Cuckoo is the story of a woman in her 70s, Sarah, who is confronted by unexpected change in her life. Her husband, Charles, dies while taking a nature walk in their home state of Vermont. She withdraws into loneliness, but is abruptly yanked out when her friend suggests she opens up her cabin for rent. And then the boarders come pouring in.Sarah and some of the other characters are fully and richly developed, with their histories, psychology, regrets and emotional lives laid open for the reader's inspection. I thought the novel started stronger than it ended -- Hannah, a three-year-old introduced near the beginning, is someone the reader forms an attachment to, but then her character kind of trails off. Toward the end, it became more a novel of ideas, with pacifism, love and loss treated as interesting abstractions. I did find this interesting but the story felt fuller and more fleshed out in the beginning.This is a novel with a lot of tragedy, but some coziness as well. It is unique and often surprising. While the disturbing events of the story can be unsettling, Sarah is a strong character whose journey will inspire many.more
I thought this book was great! It was a story about a very strong woman who despite the fact that she lost her husband after being together for a very long time, is able to move on and make the best of her life.Sarah Lucas is able to not only open her home to a handful of needy people, but she is able to genuinely love and care for each of these people.This book took on a lot of big important issues. For the most part Kate Maloy(the author) did a pretty good job of wrapping things up. Maloy did give you lots of "what If" things to think about.more
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Reviews

I love Vermont and Vermonters, even though I doubt I could live through the winter and mud seasons year after year...I did, however, thoroughly enjoy this book. The one subplot that did not really fit and was not fully developed revolved around Josie. I feel the author more or less threw it in to introduce the issue of domestic abuse. The novel did not need it. Better to read novels by Chris Bohjalian to get an in-depth look at specific social issues, ranging from homelessness to abortion...more
I really liked the characters and setting in the book. But, the author was a bit preachy about issues, even though I agreed with her. Also the dramatic conclusion was too much for the tone of the story.more
Charles and Sarah are an older married couple who’ve raised three children. Like most marriages, theirs has had its ups and downs, but they’ve settled into a happy, comfortable routine. Their three children are grown and successful, but Charles struggles with his relationship with their son David and Sarah and their daughter Charlotte have their differences. Their other son, Tom brings home a lovely young woman and life seems good.When Charles passes away unexpectedly, Sarah finds herself at loose ends. Things that she deemed so important at one time (a clean house, great meals, etc) no longer interest her. There’s a small cabin on Sarah’s property and when a friend asks her to allow her cousin to live in it and write, Sarah reluctantly agrees. Sarah’s daughter, Charlotte, and granddaughter, Lottie, are having trouble getting along so Sarah permits Lottie to move in with her.Lottie persuades Sarah to allow several of her friends to move in and from there, things mushroom, and Sarah finds herself providing a safe haven for “every last cuckoo.”The beginning of Every Last Cuckoo, by Kate Maloy, is told in a non-linear fashion so it took me a while to discover where the story was going. The family dynamics were very believable because they’re so well written. I felt like the ups and downs in Charles and Sarah’s marriage were so realistic too. Even though I’m not as old as Kate, I could relate to her and was so glad when she discovered the wisdom she had inside. I enjoyed this well written book, but found the middle to be a little be too philosophical for me and the ending a little bit long and predictable.more
After more than fifty years, the marriage of Sarah and Charles Lucas has settled in to a comfortable rhythm. The tempo of their relationship, however, has not been steady—excitement, sadness, love, and coolness have all affected the pace.At seventy-five years old, Sarah has seen six generations of her family and is looking forward to great-grandchildren so she can be in the exact middle of all the relatives she’ll ever remember. And although she knows death, from the tragically young to the grateful old, she is not prepared to face sudden widowhood, especially because Charles was still so vigorous.The story of Sarah's first year of the last quarter of her life crosses time and pushes boundaries. Familiar chores cease to have meaning, and old wounds no longer matter. Memories can be so startling that it seems as if they were able to stop time. Yet without thought or score, new tempos take over in almost incremental steps, and one day, life seems to be bursting with possibility.Every Last Cuckoo examines much more than death and grieving; it is a novel about life, families, relationships, and personal growth. It's about learning to recognize that almost everyone, no matter his or her age or situation, has something to teach us. And throughout we are treated to Maloy's evocative prose.While looking in the mirror:Sarah took in the evidence of age not knowing whether to laugh or cry. How many girls and women she had been—she carried a multitude inside who shared only memory and character traits. (p. 200)The widowed Sarah recalls this advice:"I promise, you will survive this," she had said. "Not only that, you will learn things you could never have learned when you shared your life with him. You will become yourself." (p. 224)And three random quotations:The day after Christmas, flakes as light as torn tissue eddied in the middle air. (p. 63)After the spring rains came down, the dirt roads braided themselves with glistening, axle-deep ruts full of sucking mud. (p. 119)The gap between the two ridges to the southeast was a bowl full of fog. (p. 184)Through Sarah's transformation and adaptation to a newly composed life, Maloy has brilliantly captured one woman's path to rediscovery and an unexpected purpose.Whether you approve of Sarah's choices, agree with how she relates to her children, or understand the individual philosophies of her friends and family, Every Last Cuckoo will give you plenty to think about and discuss. I highly recommend this book, no matter where you are on life's journey.Kate Maloy has a website where you can learn more about her work.Every Last Cuckoo won the ALA's Reader List Award for Women's Fictiomore
Sarah and Charles Lucas have created a long and generally happy life for themselves in the large Vermont house where they raised their children. And they have settled in for a contented retirement when Charles unexpectedly dies. Sarah finds herself drifting through her days until her granddaughter and friends move into the house. Then comes a woman and child who have lost everything in a fire. The cousin of an old friend moves into the guest house, needing quiet and solitude. The daughter and gradnson of an acquaintance escape an abusive situation by moving into Sarah's. And Sarah starts to come back to life with this newly created family inhabiting her home and her grounds.Told in two seperate sections, starting with the Lucas' life before Charles' death, part one ends in the past, picking up part two with the memorial service and the emptiness now pervading Sarah's life. Maloy has written both the portrait of a good, solid marriage and of one partner's painful coming back to life after the death of her husband. The characters are flawed and real and utterly sympathetic. Their interactions, especially Sarah's with her children, echo the interactions of people the world round. While the Lucas house might be a place of healing for so many of the lost souls who congregate with Sarah, it is clear that this is just one stop on their path and that Sarah and her determination to find meaning in the life left to her is the main focus of the story. She is a strong and graceful character for whom the reader can't help but root, even as we see her frustrations and watch her admit her past mistakes. The narrative covers much loss but has a tender and lovely feel to it that draws readers in and keeps them engaged with the story each and every page. I very much enjoyed this book about lasting love, family, loss, and going on in spite of and because of what happens in life.more
Sarah and Charles Lucas have been married for somewhere around 50 years when he died unexpectedly. Although their marriage had its rough patches, it was by and large a happy one.“Every Last Cuckoo” is a story of family and of finding your purpose in life. Although we know early on that Charles is going to die, the first half of the story goest back and forth between the period leading up to Charles’ death and the day of the event itself. The Lucases have a very normal family: nobody is having an out and out feud, but different children are closer to and more comfortable with different parents, there are some strained relationships, and everyone generally wants the best for everyone else. They all gather together for holidays, but don’t always have the smoothest gatherings.When Charles passes away, Sarah has to learn to live without him both with the help of and in spite of her family. She falls, not completely of her own volition, into relationships with a variety of different people, all of whom show her that life is indeed worth living, even without her husband of so many years.I really enjoyed this book. It was a read I just fell into. The best phrase I can use to describe “Every Last Cuckoo” is ‘comfortable,’ as ridiculous as it may sound, the book was a like a cozy old sweater. When I read the plot synopsis on the back of the book I was a bit afraid that the situations through which Sarah was going to end up in relationship with all of these people after Charles’ death would be contrived and silly, that she would come out seeming like some old hippy at a commune. Luckily that was not the case. Each of these relationships seemed to come about naturally, I never felt as if the author was intervening to MAKE anything happen, it simply felt like she was relating a story that happened in the way that it had to happen. When you consider that I am at the opposite end of life as Sarah - newly married with a first baby on the way to her 50 or so years of marriage and nearly-grown grandchildren - it is amazing how connected to her character I was.Maloy has a lot of talent and has written a wonderful little novel. I definitely recommend this one. It also might make a good book for book clubs.more
Kate Maloy has written a story off loss and survival following loss. Maybe "thriving" is a better word than survival. In the novel, Sarah and Charles are a retired, older couple, enjoying their days together in Vermont. As we know from life, everything changes, and Sarah's life changes forever when her husband dies suddenly.However, change always has the possibility for good in it, and as Sarah heals from her loss, discovers more of herself because of it, she also finds room and love for others that need healing of their own. She takes in teenagers, young families in trouble, strangers who need a place of quiet. They build their own community, in the truest sense, and as a reader, you're welcomed within their world yourself.This book is well and thoughtfully written. I'm not sure how much I would've enjoyed it when I was younger, but now that I'm middle-aged, I can see how all of the emotions in the novel are possible and are, indeed, a part of life if you let yourself be open.more
When I reached the end of this book, I thought, Wow, this lady sure went through a lot in the last year. From losing her husband to finding herself after her loss, Sara’s story made me both laugh and cry. The descriptions of both the characters and the Vermont landscapes that Kate Maloy uses throughout the book are beautifully written and made the scenery and characters almost touchable. I enjoyed reading about Sara watching her children grow up and eventually grow into likenesses of her and her husband. I was also touched by the strength that Sara drew from her boarders and how she was able to deal with the loss of her husband and overcome her own fear of death through them. I will definitely pass this book on!more
I got Every Last Cuckoo as an Early Reviewers book and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I got so into the characters and their lives. I felt Sarah's pain and grief over losing her husband, her anger and guilt with her daughter Charlotte and her guidance and watching over all the people that end up living in her house after Charles' death. I also enjoyed how the author portrayed all the other characters: Lottie, Charlotte, Sandy & Tyler, Lotties friends, and Mordechai, and their interaction with each other and with Sarah. It was so nice to see Sarah's grief ease a little as she became more involved with all her boarders. This book would make a great book club pick. I highly recommend it.more
This book follows Sarah, an elderly woman living in Vermont with her husband, Charles. Charles passes away about midway through the book, and the remainder of the story surrounds Sarah's grief and the ways in which she handles it. I'll admit I struggled to get through the first half of the book--there were very lengthy descriptions of the natural Vermont settings, and it was difficult to keep the many characters straight, especially because most of them had very common names (Charles, Tom, David, etc.). However, as harsh as this realization may sound, the narration seemed to blossom after Charles's death. It was still difficult to keep the newly introduced characters straight, but the scenes resonated more within this half--the descriptions focused on the people in Sarah's life rather than on nature or awkwardly presented flashbacks. While I did feel satisfied upon completion of the story, there were still situations and characters about which I wanted more information. The relationship between David and Tess intrigued me from the start; I would have liked to see more of them in the second half of the story. David's disruptive behavior as a teenager (referred to when similar situations arose involving other characters) had obviously been put to rest as he grew closer with his new family. I wanted to know more about the beginning of David's relationship with Tess, to see how he had matured beyond his previous mistakes. I did feel a genuine happiness for his marriage to Tess and the arrival of their new baby at the end of the book.I was slightly disappointed with the direction in which Sarah's relationship with Lottie went. In the first half of the book, it was clear that these two women were very close. However, once Lottie moved in with her grandmother (bringing her friends too), this relationship seemed to be overshadowed by the many people living there. I had hoped that more of their friendship would show. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about complex human relationships. It's different from other typical family dramatic literature in that its story is told from the point of view of a member of an older generation. Seeing the elderly female narrator adapt her lifestyle and habits to coincide with those of both teenagers and middle-aged women was interesting.more
I hated when Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy ended—the sign of a truly good book! I wanted to learn more about characters that I had come to feel I knew. The characters are so well drawn and fully fleshed out that it doesn’t take long before you feel you know them and would be more than happy to have them in your home. This is the story of Sarah and her long marriage to Charles. After Sarah loses Charles to an accident, we see Sarah’s devastating grief, feel her despair. But circumstances keep Sarah from isolating herself with her grief. Sarah starts taking in struggling and lost souls, people who need a place to rest and recuperate from what life has handed them. And while Sarah still grieves for Charles, she becomes comfortable in this new part of her life.I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a warm-hearted story of love and loss, living your life the best way you can under hard circumstances. Ms. Maloy has done a truly outstanding job with this book and I look forward to more books by her.more
I really enjoyed this book - though in some ways I was predisposed to like it... I received the book (free) through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program and the book I'd just finished was a real struggle. I found this book an easy and enjoyable read. Sarah, the woman at the center of the story and from whose point of view the story is told, is 75 (25 years my senior) but I found I identified with her fear of loss and death and her wonder (or puzzlement?) with the passage of time and her place in it. The story covers a little over a year of her life - a momentous year during which her husband dies and she finds her way past her grief. In doing so she conquers her fear of death and opens herself to whatever life brings her. Perhaps the story is a little too pat, but it drew me in completely, had characters I cared about, and left me with things to think about.more
I'm torn by this book. I love the idea of the story and the characters and their interconnections. But we were told about the characters, not shown them. Therefore a depth and richness was missing that would have brought this fine book to the level of a great book. Luckily the second half of the book raised the bar and brought more detail to the character's interactions. The first half was a bit tedious as all the characters were set up. It was definitely worth reading, but the writing was more technical than artistic.more
This is a book much stronger on character and description than on plot. The plot falls down in several places, including Sarah's too-short mourning period and the gratuitous discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the author's power of description and ability to bring the reader into the scene are tremendous. For readers looking for a tightly woven plot, I wouldn't recommend this book. But for readers looking for scenes that will draw them in and make them feel like part of the family, this is a great book!more
While the idea of a novel with compelling older characters is what led me to this book, the characters themselves are not as real or human as I would have wished. The real problem lies with Sarah, the main character, who was inspired by the author's aunt. If one is looking for a valedictory to a beloved aunt, behold Sarah. If one is looking for a well-rounded character whose laudable virtues are balanced by true human-ness, flaws and failings, behold ... well, perhaps the minor character of Charlotte, Sarah's daughter, but even she is merely limned.Too often what could have been a rich narrative is bogged down with dropped threads, philosophical maunderings, gratuitous descriptions, and "the little darlings" of polished gem-like phrases that stand out like sore thumbs rather than flowing naturally from any rhythm of prose. I wanted nothing more than a blue pencil, to tone down the language that was too obviously labored over, to direct the author back to interesting ideas or characters who deserved to be brought along, to point to other plot developments or characters whose appearance was sudden, and sometimes even silly. I persevered until the end, hoping something would happen to tie off the many dangling conversations and redeem the bits and pieces that did succeed, but instead I closed it with a great deal of irritation. There is a novel about the wealth of wisdom and experience amassed over a lifetime, about family relationships that must evolve and change as life intervenes... this one trumpets that it is that one, but beneath the brassy fanfare lies a squawking mess.more
Every Last Cuckoo is the story of a woman in her 70s, Sarah, who is confronted by unexpected change in her life. Her husband, Charles, dies while taking a nature walk in their home state of Vermont. She withdraws into loneliness, but is abruptly yanked out when her friend suggests she opens up her cabin for rent. And then the boarders come pouring in.Sarah and some of the other characters are fully and richly developed, with their histories, psychology, regrets and emotional lives laid open for the reader's inspection. I thought the novel started stronger than it ended -- Hannah, a three-year-old introduced near the beginning, is someone the reader forms an attachment to, but then her character kind of trails off. Toward the end, it became more a novel of ideas, with pacifism, love and loss treated as interesting abstractions. I did find this interesting but the story felt fuller and more fleshed out in the beginning.This is a novel with a lot of tragedy, but some coziness as well. It is unique and often surprising. While the disturbing events of the story can be unsettling, Sarah is a strong character whose journey will inspire many.more
I thought this book was great! It was a story about a very strong woman who despite the fact that she lost her husband after being together for a very long time, is able to move on and make the best of her life.Sarah Lucas is able to not only open her home to a handful of needy people, but she is able to genuinely love and care for each of these people.This book took on a lot of big important issues. For the most part Kate Maloy(the author) did a pretty good job of wrapping things up. Maloy did give you lots of "what If" things to think about.more
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