Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman
Harper Collins: 10/18/16
advanced reading copy; 320 pages
trade paperback ISBN-13:
Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman is a highly recommended endearing story.
Maggie Sheets is surprised to learn that she has inherited a house in
Sag Habor, NY from her friend, author Liza Brennan, especially since the
two hadn't been in touch for the last four years. Liza committed
suicide, so she must have had a plan in mind before ending her own life.
As a single mother to two-year-old Lucy, the house along with a
financial inheritance, is a blessing. She can quit cleaning houses for a
living and concentrate on raising her daughter. There is one catch,
however. Along with the house comes Liza’s 82-year-old mother, Edith.
Edith didn't like Maggie when they meet years earlier and time hasn't
likely improved her opinion. Edith is also in the early stages of
Alzheimer’s. If Maggie accepts the bequest, she is going to have to deal
with the increasing symptoms of Edith's deteriorating condition while
trying to raise her daughter. Why did Liza choose her for this position?
It soon becomes clear that Maggie has her hands full with her toddler
"Edith, you're in trouble. I'm here because, for God knows what reason,
Liza wanted me to take care of you. It was her wish. I'm here to carry
it out, come hell or high water."
"Well, it's not like you're not being paid handsomely for it," Edith
retorted. "A house, a pile of money, a car - I'd say you won the damn
"If this is winning the lottery, I'm selling my ticket back. You, Edith, are no prize."
The unusual situation results in Maggie and Edith confronting both
choices and the resulting consequences in their lives. It also seems
that Liza may have known what she was doing when she chose Maggie,
however obliquely, for the task of caring for Edith. With a lot of help
from Edith's long-time friend, Esther, the two take a prickly start and
manage to forge a shaky relationship that opens them up to sharing.
Telling the story through Maggie and Edith, Fishman manages to take a
rather improbable situation and make it seem plausible. The novel is a
fairly quick and easy book to read, and while both Alzheimer's and
depression play important roles in the novel, they are not portrayed in
depth or as gravely serious as they are in other novels - or in real
life. It is the relationship between the characters that becomes the
focus here, which Fishman develops with care and understanding. Inheriting Edith
is an endearing, heartwarming story about bonds formed between people
from different backgrounds once they realize the similarities of their
experiences and set aside differences to work together.
There were two drawbacks in Inheriting Edith for me. One was
Lucy, whose constantly demanding chatter and temper tantrums became a
tad bit annoying. It did highlight Maggie's exhaustion dealing with both
a two-year-old and an eighty-two-year-old. Perhaps I'm becoming an old
curmudgeon; nevertheless, I think I could have understood the gest of
Maggie's situation with a little less toddler prattle. The second was
the potential love interest for Maggie who added nothing and could have
just been left out of the book.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this
book from Harper Collins.
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