Book Review: Thomas Murphy

Blog page

“As for my next twenty years, I seriously doubt that they will be the happiest of my life, unless of course you can bring back my wife, Oona, and my friend Greenburg. If resurrection is included among your many benefits, sign me up.” (Thomas Murphy writing in response to a letter from AARP)

Now, wasn’t this just the most perfect gem of a book to read at just the right time? Thomas Murphy turned out to be a wee, slight book, coming in at just over 200 pages, but was filled with all kinds of awesomeness. It was filled with sardonic wit, which at many times gave me shoulder-shaking, laugh out loud moments,  just as many times it struck me as one of the most compassionate and tender of stories.

Anyone that knows me well enough regarding my reading choices, knows I’m a real sucker for reading about old men still talking to, writing to and thinking of their dearly departed spouses,  (I still think so very fondly about that old fart Angus, in The Best Laid Plans) and I will happily reach for those stories in a split-second!  This is Thomas Murphy and this is what he is doing so heartbreaking well in his story. Murph is an aging poet, in his 70s and is slipping slowly into dementia. He has been found standing in his skivvies in the apartment’s courtyard belting out a tune, mistaking a shocked elderly woman’s apartment for his own, nearly setting his own apartment on fire due to failing to remember he was hard-boiling eggs, trying to take another neighbour’s Vespa for a spin… All of these situations have caused his daughter much stress and she is desperate to get him to keep his appointment with the neurologist. (Murph’s answers to the doctor’s take-home test will have tears rolling down your face from laughter.)

With this  fantastic combination of tenderness and sardonic wit, I was charmed to no end by Murph. I don’t think I’m wearing pants right now, Murph charmed them off of me! There were times when he had me laughing out loud, and his moments of great tenderness and appreciation regarding his memories of his wife and best friend, and of the wonderful moments he spends with his beloved grandson, are all made for very lovely, charming, and simply fantastic reading.

Thomas Murphy will get you with these gems (just a few of them here, the book is filled to the brim with them!):

(on being in his house alone) “Now, I’m glad it’s as big as it is, so I can postpone my disappointment when I cannot find you. I don’t mind being alone, Oona. I mind being alone without you.”

(on possibly finding new love) “There have been three women in my life, that is, if Sarah qualifies as the third. One I found and lost on Inishmaan. One to whom I gladly gave my heart and vows. You know that one. And now this girl, who steps in so quietly, you’d hardly know she’s there. Oh nothing will come of it, most likely. There are more years that separate our ages than years she’s been alive. And still. And I really don’t know if I have any love left in me, after you.”

I am so very pleased Thomas Murphy came to me from my grab-it-on-a-whim-choice and proved that reading what strikes you as right at the moment was most definitely the way to go! Loved the Murph! Loved him!

Literary Hoarders Penny