By: Jonathan Santlofer
Publication Date: 7/10/2018
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
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.
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"Wrenching, heartbreaking, intense and emotional - but valuable, too: we're all approaching the age where this will happen to us - or to others because of us - and understanding that it can be dealt with is consoling. I don't know how Santlofer found the fortitude to write this, but I'm deeply grateful he did. I think the world is a better place with this book in it."—Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The Widower’s Notebook, Jonathan Santlofer’s searingly truthful chronicle of mortality, is, among its wonders, a book about the preciousness of life and love, rendered all the more heart-wrenching, and all the more vital, by a loss almost beyond imagining. It’s a true tragic beauty.”
—Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Hours
“The Widower’s Notebook is a searing rendition of the complex relationship between men and grief—an intense despair that is too often starved for words. This chronicle of devastation is itself devastating, a deeply powerful and unflinchingly honest report of how painfully and strangely life continues in the wake of a sudden, tragic death.”
—Andrew Solomon, National Book Award winner
"The Widower’s Notebook is an intimate, honest, heart-wrenching, and at times even funny account of grieving as well as the memoir of long, satisfying, loving marriage. This is an important and welcome addition to the literature of loss and grief from the male point of view. I will be giving this Notebook to friends reeling from loss but also to old and new couples who need models of how to weather the many little deaths and losses that occur as they journey a life together. Santlofer has given us a brave, beautiful gift, heartfelt and invaluable."
—Julia Alvarez, bestselling author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and Saving the World
“Widower is stunning, harrowing, un-put-down-able… Jonathan Santlofer finds language that is immediate and intimate for the irreconcilable trauma of loss. Without pause he captures the shattered time that is grief—this book is fearless, brave for its humanity, honesty, love. Santlofer brings the reader into his heart, sharing all the things that one feels but dares not say aloud, all that one wants to know but can’t ask of themselves, of those around them, of their lost loved one.”
—A.M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven
"As an extended meditation - not on grief but on grieving - it is direct, unadorned and humane. It is, as well, a rare thing, a portrait of a happy marriage."
—Paul Theroux, New York Times bestselling author
"Jonathan Santlofer's book is a miraculous act of seeing, in words and in drawings — of reconstituting, in a work of art, what his wife Joy was like and what their marriage was like and what the loss has been. A riveting memoir of grief, and an indelible portrait of a long and deeply good marriage."
—Joan Wickersham, National Book Award finalist and author of The Suicide Index
"A brave book! A truthful and poignant account of an unexpected death filled with wisdom about life and a man's struggle to be allowed to grieve."
—Sheila Kohler, author of Once We Were Sisters
“Jonathan Santlofer, with painful honesty, renders real grief in all its sprawl and inconsolable intensity.”
—Edmund White, author of A Boy’s Own Story
"Jonathan Santlofer’s stunning The Widower’s Notebook raises all the blinds on immense and sudden loss, bringing light to all its dark corners. In so doing, he offers a deeply moving, often funny, always big-hearted portrait—not just of grief but of a long and rich marriage brought to vivid life, and of a mighty father-and-daughter relationship both tested and enduring. A true gift."
—Megan Abbott, bestselling author of You Will Know Me
About the Author
Jonathan Santlofer is the author of 5 novels, The Death Artist, Color Blind, The Killing Art, The Murder Notebook, and Anatomy of Fear, which won the Nero Wolfe Award for best crime novel of 2009. His first novel, The Death Artist, was an international bestseller and translated into 22 languages. He is co-editor, contributor and illustrator of the short story anthology, The Dark End of the Street, and editor/contributor of LA NOIRE: The Collected Stories. His short stories appear in numerous collections, including The Rich & the Dead, edited by Nelson De Mille, New Jersey Noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, the Strand Magazine and Ellery Queen Magazine. He has been a contributing writer to ArtNews, Travel & Leisure, and almost every crime and mystery magazine.
Santlofer is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, has been a Visiting Artist at the American Academy In Rome, the Vermont Studio Center and serves on the board of Yaddo, the oldest arts community in the U.S. He also serves on the boards of the Mystery Writers of America and the International Crime Writers of North America.
He is currently the director of New York City’s CRIME FICTION ACADEMY, the only program devoted exclusively to crime writing in all of its forms. He also teaches Crime Fiction Writing in Pratt Institute’s Creative Writing program, and has taught at Columbia University and The New School. He has given numerous workshops at writing conventions and festivals and has been a sought after lecturer at colleges and universities and museums across the country, among them the Whitney Museum of American Art, MOMA, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and LA MOCA.
A well-known artist, Santlofer’s work is in such collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Tokyo’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
Santlofer has been profiled in the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Newsday, USA Today; been the subject of a Sunday NY Times Magazine “Questions For” column, and his work has been written about and reviewed extensively.
He lives in New York City where he writes and paints. He has recently completed a new novel. Read More