They May Not Mean To

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.

Elaine Marlin (09/15/16): This is a novel about a close knit family of four. The main character, Joy, is an 80 something woman who happily lives in a "rent controlled" apartment in NYC with her aging, sick husband. She takes care of his needs. He has Alzheimer's and other ailments. Her daughter Molly lives far, far away, in Los Angeles, with her same sex spouse. Molly is so happy in L.A. but misses her mother and father. Molly's brother Daniel, lives close, but has a wife and two precocious children. He is very split: he wants to visit his parents, but is compelled to be with his own family. He is a good son.

The situation gets more intense as Joy starts to require more help. She is a very proud, independent woman who loves her husband. However, life gets more complicated and her grown children want to help. Although it is not a comedy, it is humorous, and intelligent. Everyone means well! Joy has her own needs, and her children really just do not understand. I really enjoyed this story. I was pulled in from the beginning and felt connected the whole way. It may be because my sisters and I are going through similar situations with our mother. I highly recommend the book.
Rating: *****

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