I love a good romance novel as much as the next person, particularly if the romance is part of a really good story. But I must admit that I get a bit tired of being able to tell right from the get-go that a man will be the love interest because they are described as tall and broad-shouldered, with piercing blue eyes. No one falls in love with an average looking fellow with faded brown eyes and a small belly paunch.
Perhaps this is the biggest reason that I so enjoyed An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer. The main character of the novel is a man in his late 50s who is a high school science teacher. Edward Schuyler is still grieving the death of his beloved wife following her bout with cancer. He can’t seem to find joy in his life anymore, but despite the fact that he’s very lonely, he simply doesn’t seem to have a particular interest in trying to move on.
Without his knowledge, his adult stepchildren take it upon themselves to place an ad in a book review magazine seeking the company of a mature woman for their dad. Pretty soon the replies start pouring in and the children admit to what they had done. Resistant at first, Edward finally realizes that he really would like to have someone with whom to keep company. What follows are a series of sometimes sad, but mostly funny experiences as lonely women clamber to make his acquaintance.
The author writes with a deft hand and a quick wit. Wolitzer presents Edward as a charming, smart, likeable man who isn’t looking to replace his wife but just wants someone to share his life with. He may not be broad-shouldered, but he is kind and funny and deserves the happiness that awaits.
I found this to be a sweet story with an extremely satisfying ending.