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Margaret Mandell
And Always One More Time: A Memoir
The loss of a life partner strikes over one million women every year—shattering the present, leaving the future in doubt. At 65 years old Margaret Mandell loses her husband of 45 years to a fast-moving disease, and she cannot conjure a future without him. The bed is half empty. Her body betrays her. Laughter is elusive. Filled with longing, chased by memory, Mandell begins to write letters to the man she loved, retracing their history together. But when a tenderhearted college professor steps quietly into her life, when he listens, attentively, as Mandell reads her accumulating stack of letters out loud, she is forced to recalibrate her vision of life—what is still possible, what is still necessary, how much love one heart can hold.
Mandell stuns with a riveting debut memoir chronicling her grief at the death of her husband, Herb—and her eventual rebirth into “a whole tree again inside and out, standing tall, for now.” Through heartfelt letters to her deceased husband, Mandell recounts their deep love affair and years of intimate time together swimming, taking yoga classes, and traveling, remembering Herb’s determination to stay fit and strong into his later years. That determination came crashing down around them on the heels of Herb’s pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis—a disease, that, according to him, was “worse than cancer” and led to his death shortly after.

Mandell writes of Herb’s rapid deterioration in intimate, hushed tones, recalling his pneumonia (“the end of the road for anyone with pulmonary fibrosis”) and her looming “sixty-something” birthday, reflecting on Herb’s unconditional love and, to the very end, concern for her: when he declares “this is not what you signed up for,” Mandell replies “This is our love story… “there is no place else I’d rather be.” That love forms the backbone of the memoir, even after Herb’s death, as Mandell grapples with her new life amid bone-crushing grief. An emergency hospital stay of her own leads her back into yoga, and, as she questions her identity without Herb, she eventually experiences the kindling of a new love, with John, a college professor.

Throughout, Mandell traces the threads of life that continue to interlace, long after Herb is gone—the presence of their two adult children, her eventual marriage to John, the COVID lockdown, and her most challenging job yet: letting Herb go. Her relationship with John is sweet to watch, as the couple navigates the future while remembering the past, and her growth from lost to regenerated is an arresting reminder to be “open to all that comes [your] way.”

Takeaway: Heart-wrenching, life-affirming memoir of love, grief, and regeneration.

Comparable Titles: Laura June’s Now My Heart Is Full, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Kirkus Reviews

 AND ALWAYS ONE MORE TIMEA MEMOIRBY MARGARET MANDELL ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 12, 2024 A moving, insightful, and beautifully crafted story of losing one great love and finding another.Mandell offers a heartfelt memoir about finding the courage to love again after devastating loss.The author’s beloved husband, Herb, died of pulmonary fibrosis on her 65th birthday. Their marriage had been a truly loving union, founded on mutual respect and admiration. They had close relationships with their adult children, Lydia and Dan, and a wellspring of shared, happy memories of their 40 years together. As a way of healing from such devastating loss, Mandell began writing love letters to Herb in her journal, candid “imagined conversations” in which she reminisced about their life together and shared what was happening in her current life. After three years of widowhood, feeling ready for a new relationship, she tried online dating and quickly met John, a witty, twice-divorced college professor eight years her senior. Strongly attracted to each other from their first date, they progressed swiftly to serious romance, despite Mandell’s conflicting emotions; she couldn’t imagine either man being okay with the presence of the other, wondering, “Dare I fall in love again and risk losing John as I once lost Herb?” As they navigated significant family developments, the worldwide pandemic, and another move, the couple’s new bond grew richer, stronger, and deeper. Mandell’s writing is direct and matter-of-fact, studded with small descriptive gems: The sun seems to sit atop a distant evergreen “as if the tree gave birth to it,” and a hotel in Prague is “awash in gargoyles.” Humor surfaces even in the most serious moments. Her tone, when writing about the other people in her life, is warm and heartfelt, conveying deep empathy for them and for herself. Offering one example after another of appreciating the beauty in life without denying its heartaches, the memoir asks, “Can you keep loving when the man you love is gone?” and answers with a resounding yes.A moving, insightful, and beautifully crafted story of losing one great love and finding another. 

Barnes & Noble Princeton Author Expo

Debut author of And Always One More Time: A Memoir, Booklife's "Editor's Pick," Margaret Mandell will be featured on Sunday, March 24 at the beautiful Princeton, NJ Barnes & Noble located in the Marketfair Shopping Center on Route 1. She'll be signing copies of her riveting story at thiis festive "meet and greet" event. Stop by any time between 11 am and 3 pm. Margaret will be delghted to see you there!