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Greetings, TNB readers and Book Club members!

This month’s TNB Book Club selection is Stewart O’Nan’s Emily, Alone.


Emily, Alone, a sequel to the bestselling Wish You Were Here, “follows Emily Maxwell, a widow whose grown children have long moved away. She dreams of vists by her grandchildren while mourning the turnover of her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood, but when her sole companion and sister-in-law Arlene faints at their favorite breakfast buffet, Emily’s days change. As she grapples with her new independence, she discovers a hidden strength and realizes that life always offers new possibilities. Like most older women, Emily is a familiar yet invisible figure, one rarely portrayed so honestly. Her mingled feelings-of pride and regret, joy and sorrow- are gracefully rendered in wholly unexpected ways.”

Emily, Alone has been chosen as an editor’s choice by The New York Times Book Review has been called an “an ideal book for a rainy, tea-sipping afternoon” by BookPage.


What about you?

What has your experience been with Emily? How has her journey toward end-of-life independence affected you? What do you make of her relationship with her family? How do you feel about O’nan’s style and pacing?

Feel free to share your thoughts about any or none of these questions in the discussion below.


Save the date: Our cyber-chat with Stewart O’nan will be happening on Monday April 25th, at 9pm EST/6:00pm PST. Keep an eye on your email for log in instructions, which should be arriving shortly.


Not a member of the TNB Book Club? Follow this link to sign up. For the unbelievable price of $9.99 a month, Book Club members will receive a new book each month, along with an exclusive monthly e-mail newsletter with info, updates, and instructions on how to attend the book club meetings online. Attending the meetings will be as simple as clicking a link and logging in to the meeting page at a predetermined date and time, with a username and password provided by TNB.  Fun!

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Gloria Harrison GLORIA HARRISON is a writer whose work has been featured on The Nervous Breakdown, Fictionaut, and This American Life. Gloria was the lead editor for The Portland Red Guide: Sites & Stories of Our Radical Past by Michael Munk, which was published through Ooligan Press in 2007. She was also a contributing editor to Pete Anthony's book, Immaculate, for which she received a high five and a ten dollar gift card to Stumptown Coffee. Gloria graduated from Portland State University with her B.A. in English in 2006 and now focuses on her own writing. She had a work of flash fiction published in The Bear Deluxe Magazine (No. 26). You can follow her on Twitter here.

Gloria lives in Portland, Oregon with her school-age twin boys. She is currently working on both a memoir and her first novel. You can contact Gloria via her Facebook page.

2 Responses to “Emily Alone, by Stewart O’Nan – Open Discussion Thread”

  1. Art Edwards says:

    I will finish Emily tonight or tomorrow, and I cannot say how much I’ve enjoyed this selection.

    I’ve noticed in the last, oh, ten years, literature has gotten away from the realistic fiction of Updike and Bellow in favor of either more fantastical stuff (I vant to suck your blood!) or memoir (I was a teenage drug addict/sex worker/mountain climber/whatever). Both of these can be done well, but it took O’Nan’s novel to remind me what I love about lit in the first place. He takes what I’ll call an ordinary life and doesn’t make it extraordinary; he shows how insightful and relevant and worth of our time ordinary can be. Hovering just below every sentence about Emily’s daily ministrations is the fact that Emily is eighty and going to die sooner rather than later. This grants importance to everything she says and does, every interaction with family and friends, every greedily guarded spring afternoon in her garden. She knows it could be her last, and we read on, thinking about our own lasts, watching her for lessons.

    I hope to read ten more this year I like as much, but I doubt there will be that many this good.

  2. Betty Andrews says:

    What a “past-years” reminder these two books by O’Nan have been to me. As a 75 yr avid reader,I found so many of my own thoughts and feelings put in words that I couldn,t or wouldn,t admit to myself, much less to any of my loving family and especially my 80 yr old husband whom I love so dearly.These books weren’t stories of excitment and mystery; just everyday life in a large family,with the characters each doing the best they know how. I want to go to each member of my large family and assure them that no matter what happens, I’ll love them forever as long as I live. Do I dare to hope there could be a follow-up book to see how the kids and grandkids choose to live thier lives and how their grandparents have influenced their lives? I loved these books and have learned a sweet lesson from them.

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