Tuesday 9 April 2013

Book ~ "There was an Old Woman (2013) Hallie Ephron

From Goodreads ~ "Don't let him in until I'm gone." 

That's what Mina Yetner's neighbor whispers to her just before the EMTs take her to the hospital. Mina writes down the message - at nearly ninety, she has to write down most things lest she forget - and calls Sandra's daughter, Ginger, telling her that once again her mother needs help.

Evie Ferrante is dismayed when she gets the call from her sister.  This time it's Evie's turn to see what their mother's done to herself. But when Evie arrives home - where she hasn't been in months - she's shocked by the state of her mother's house.  It's in terrible disrepair, much worse than Ginger led her to believe. And as Evie cleans and organizes, she finds things that don't make sense: expensive liquor in the garage, pricier than their mother's usual brand, a new flat-screen television on the wall. Where was her mother getting all this money?

The blessing and curse of small neighborhoods is knowing everything about your neighbors and Evie, suspicious and concerned about her mother, rekindles a relationship with Mina. Mina's been having episodes she can't explain lately, and her nephew, Brian, is trying to convince her to move to a community that will provide her with some help. Though Mina's resistant, Evie isn't certain that isn't a bad idea. But before any decision is made about Mina, Evie needs her help figuring out what's been going on with her mother - and the more Evie digs into what her mother's been up to over the past few months, the more a bigger - and more sinister story begins to unfold. 

Mina is 90+ and still living in her house with her cat, Ivory.  She has no family left except her bothersome nephew, Brian, who is trying to talk her into giving up her house and moving into a seniors' residence.  Mina likes her independence but is worried that she is getting absent-minded ... she's forgetting to turn off the kettle and causing small fires, she's putting her purse in the fridge, etc.

Next door lives Sandra, a widowed alcoholic, who has had another episode.  As they are putting her in the ambulance, Sandra asks Mina to call her daughter, Ginger, and says, "Don't let him in until I'm gone."  Evie, Sandra's other daughter, discovers her mother has let her house go ... it needs lots of repairs, it's dirty and there's garbage all over the place ... but there's also a new flat screen TV, expensive vodka, cartons of cigarettes and envelopes of cash.  Where did all this come from?

As Evie gets to work putting the house back in good condition again, she gets reacquainted with Mina.  There's something not right in the neighbourhood and Evie wonders if her mother is involved in it.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I really enjoyed it.  I liked the writing style and found it was an easy read.  The chapters are short and snappy, which I like.

Evie and Mina are the main characters and I liked them.  Evie works for a historical society and is trying to balance cleaning up her mother's house and illness in addition to having a display coming up.  I liked Mina's feistiness and patience in dealing with Brian.  She's set in her ways and a bit crotchety but makes no bones about it.

I had the issue figured out but was surprised at some of players involved.  I was satisfied with the ending.

I'd recommend this book!


CMash said...

So glad you enjoyed this book!! Very nice review and post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

Masshole Mommy said...

Thanks for the review!

Mason Canyon said...

I enjoyed your take on this fun book. It was an interesting read that grabs your attention and doesn't let go.

Thoughts in Progress