Maggie is a professional house cleaner with a degree in English. She’s had other jobs, but she prefers cleaning in Manhattan- it pays a lot better, it gives her time to think, and she has been a compulsive cleaner since she was a child. She is the single mother of a precocious two year old, and has just gotten the surprise of her life: she’s inherited the Sag Harbor beach house and money of a friend and former client that she has been estranged from for years. Along with the house comes Edith, the 82 year old mother with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. The will states that Edith is to remain in the house she shared with her bestselling novelist daughter, who has taken her own life.
Edith and Maggie both have severe doubts about this situation. Edith feels she needs no help, nor does she need strangers in her house. Maggie feels she’s in over her head with caring for an elder. But they gingerly build a relationship, and Edith asks Maggie to help her write down her life story before she forgets it. In the process, they both realize they have things in their pasts that they need to deal with before it’s too late.
I read the story in a day; it’s fast reading and fairly compelling. It’s sad to watch Edith losing ground so quickly, but fun to learn about her past. I did have to wonder why the 2 year old took up so much of the book; obviously she’s the most important thing for Maggie, but I felt her constant chattering slowed the story down. I guess it did show how overwhelmed by the child Maggie is! The obligatory love interest might as well not be there; he really adds nothing to the story. I would have preferred to learn more about Edith’s past, and about her dead daughter. A good beach read.
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