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They May Not Mean To, But They Do
by Cathleen Schine


Overview -

From one of America s greatest comic novelists, a hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love

The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don t just grow, they grow old, and the clan s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished.  Read more...


 
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More About They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
 
 
 
Overview

From one of America s greatest comic novelists, a hilarious new novel about aging, family, loneliness, and love

The Bergman clan has always stuck together, growing as it incorporated in-laws, ex-in-laws, and same-sex spouses. But families don t just grow, they grow old, and the clan s matriarch, Joy, is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would have wished. When Joy s beloved husband dies, Molly and Daniel have no shortage of solutions for their mother s loneliness and despair, but there is one challenge they did not count on: the reappearance of an ardent suitor from Joy s college days. And they didn t count on Joy herself, a mother suddenly as willful and rebellious as their own kids.

The New York Times bestselling author Cathleen Schine has been called full of invention, wit, and wisdom that can bear comparison to Jane] Austen s own (The New York Review of Books), and she is at her best in this intensely human, profound, and honest novel about the intrusion of old age into the relationships of one loving but complicated family. They May Not Mean To, But They Do is a radiantly compassionate look at three generations, all coming of age together.

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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780374280130
  • ISBN-10: 0374280134
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
  • Publish Date: June 2016
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Contemporary Women
Books > Fiction > Family Life

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-04-18
  • Reviewer: Staff

Schine (The Three Weissmanns of Westport) examines what happens when your other half dies with adroit observations about family, loss, and aging. New Yorker Joy Bergman discovers what it is like to be alone and old after her husband loses his long fight with Alzheimer’s disease. Without Aaron to care for, and with a new boss trying to retire her from her museum job, she suddenly feels each of her 86 years. Her children, Daniel and Molly, are filled with suggestions, but all involve taking away some measure of her independence. Things become further complicated when Joy brings a date to Passover. Meanwhile, Molly’s son continues to drift and her domestic partner’s dad keeps getting kicked out of nursing homes, and Daniel feels that he alone is worried about his mother’s financial stability. Joy’s doggedness when it comes to taking care of herself is recognizable and understandable, showcasing Schine’s intuitive empathy, and any adult with an aged parent will recognize her children’s well-meaning concern. Unfortunately, the ending peters out without a real conclusion. Agent: Molly Friedrich, The Friedrich Agency. (June)

 
BookPage Reviews

Mother knows best (really!)

BookPage Fiction Top Pick, June 2016

The title of Cathleen Schine’s new novel riffs on Philip Larkin’s poem “This Be the Verse,” which explores the inevitability of parent-child dysfunction (though Larkin used much blunter language). A deeply affecting yet very funny intergenerational novel, They May Not Mean To, but They Do examines the upending of one family as their mother attempts to age in place, despite the protests from her adult children.

Joy Bergman is barely hanging on to a rent-controlled East Side Manhattan apartment and single-handedly caring for her husband, Aaron, who has developed full-blown Alzheimer’s. The pair is a constant source of worry for their adult children, but Molly lives with her wife on the West coast, and Daniel has his own family and a demanding job downtown. After Aaron dies, Molly and Daniel try more assertively to include Joy in their lives. But Joy has plans of her own, clinging to her job as a museum conservator and rekindling a relationship with an old flame, Karl—a move that enrages her children. Still, Joy struggles with depression and with finding a new sense of self in the challenging world of widowhood. 

They May Not Mean To, but They Do is the fictional equivalent of Roz Chast’s brilliant memoir of dutiful daughterhood, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, though seen primarily from the point of view of the exasperated elderly parent. Schine writes about the fierce love that binds generations, but also about the tensions, fears and resentments that run high on both sides. Yet the novel is as humorous as it is compassionate. Though Schine is best known for effortless-seeming confections such as Fin & Lady and The New Yorkers, They May Not Mean To, but They Do has an extra layer of depth and dignity, making for a profound but very readable novel that is among her very best.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews