Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin tells of a family whose patriarch has been struck with Alzheimer’s. Mr. Henkin is an award-winning author and teacher.
- 304 pages
- Publisher : Pantheon
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1524748358
Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin takes place in a neighborhood in New York City’s Upper West Side, by Columbia University. This is where Professor Spence Robin teaches Shakespeare at length. Spence’s wife, Pru, evidently comes from an Orthodox Jewish family.
The couple’s life is full of love, but altogether not easy. Spence is anti-religion, has a son, Arlo, with his first wife. Arlo is brilliant, but has no interest in showing it and clashes often with his mother, father, and step-mother (Pru). Sarah is Arlo’s half-sister, daughter of Pru and Spence, smart as well on a path to be a medical doctor.
The novel is undeniably strongest in its depiction of the day-to-day living with a person suffering from Alzheimer’s. A particularly undignified way to die, slowly, while everyone around you suffers as well. Pru is written as a strong person, albeit doesn’t know she’s strong. This aspect helps the bittersweet feeling the novel succeeds in conveying to the reader. Almost all the characters are difficult to connect with, however realistic they seem, but Pru is the one which we feel most for.
The last third of the novel is an emotional roller-coaster. Told from the perspective of the family members who see their loved one, a brilliant man, turning into a stranger, suffering indignities and heartbreak.
I witnessed my grandmother’s slow decline to Alzheimer’s, so some of those scenes hit home. Seeing someone lose their mind, senses, and dignity (along with wealth if you’re in the US) is horrible and depressing. I have much respect for family members who decide to take care of their loved ones no matter what comes next.
Pru Stiener, from Ohio, comes to New York to take the city by storm. Pru falls in love and marries a brilliant Shakespeare professor, Spence Robin.
Thirty years later, Professor Robin starts losing his concentration, forgetting things, and is unable to teach. The diagnosis is Alzheimer’s disease which slowly kills Spence, while Pru has to keep on living, handle a new romance, a caretaker, and an estranged son.
Zohar — Man of la Book
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