Lottie’s thoughts and experiences are front-and-center, which is a welcome change from many narratives about old age and memory loss that often focus on the experiences of children, spouses, and caregivers. Schumacher’s first-person narration adeptly shifts from Lottie’s moments of lucidity to her memories to her moments of confusion, all without losing the reader. Schumacher also brings commendable empathy to Lottie’s character. When we do get the perspectives of the caregivers–such as Sarah, who has tea dates with Lottie and clearly holds a place in her heart for her–it serves to further highlight Lottie’s feelings of confusion and isolation while effectively reminding readers of how the world perceives her.
On occasion, Schumacher recounts lists of facts from Lottie’s past, dwelling on names and dates rather than inviting readers to inhabit a moment. The sparse prose is mostly effective (“Only two men had ever kissed me, two men that I loved and who loved me”), but many of Lottie’s memories are set in the first decades of the 20th century with few period details to anchor them. Still, this quick read packs a lot of life--and a strong emotional punch--in just a few pages.
Takeaway: This tender novella will satisfy readers eager to look back at the end of a quiet life lived with dignity.
Great for fans of: Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread, Kathleen Rooney’s Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A