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Wish You Were Here af Stewart O'Nan
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Wish You Were Here (udgave 2002)

af Stewart O'Nan

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
4782438,715 (3.61)49
Award-winning writer Stewart O'Nan has been acclaimed by critics as one of the most accomplished novelists writing today. Now comes his finest and most complete novel to date. A year after the death of her husband, Henry, Emily Maxwell gathers her family by Lake Chautauqua in western New York for what will be a last vacation at their summer cottage. Joining is her sister-in-law, who silently mourns the sale of the lake house, and a long-lost love. Emily's firebrand daughter, a recovering alcoholic recently separated from her husband, brings her children from Detroit. Emily's son, who has quit his job and mortgaged his future to pursue his art, comes accompanied by his children and his wife, who is secretly heartened to be visiting the house for the last time. Memories of past summers resurface, old rivalries flare up, and love is rekindled and born anew, resulting in a timeless novel drawn, as the best writing often is, from the ebbs and flow of daily life.… (mere)
Medlem:JudiRobben
Titel:Wish You Were Here
Forfattere:Stewart O'Nan
Info:Grove Press (2002), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 517 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
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Nøgleord:Ingen

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Wish You Were Here af Stewart O'Nan

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Many extended families gather along a lake or a seashore for a few days each summer. It's usually fun for everyone involved, but is there enough in such a family vacation for a novel? Stewart O'Nan thought so, and in 2002 he published “Wish You Were Here,” not just a novel about a week at the lake but a 517-page novel.

The family is the Maxwells, the subject of other O'Nan novels. Henry and Emily Maxwell have taken their family to their cottage along Chautauqua Lake in western New York for many years. Now Henry has died, and Emily gathers her family for one last week at the lake before she sells the cottage. Family members include Arlene, Henry's never-married sister; Kenneth, Emily's son, his wife Lise and their two children, Ella and Sam; and Margaret, Emily's daughter, and her children, Sarah and Justin.

This week at the lake never develops much more of a plot than any other family's week at the lake. Early in the week Kenneth stops for gas soon after a young female attendant at the gas station disappears, presumably kidnapped, and this thread weaves through the novel now and then, but it never turns into a crime novel. The closest O'Nan comes to an actual plot is that nobody in the family wants to lose the beloved cottaged, but only Emily can afford to pay the taxes, and she doesn't want the responsibility. Yet that is hardly enough to sustain 500 pages.

But we keep reading. There is something compelling about a family's attempts during a mostly rainy week to find things to do that will keep everyone amused. It is all familiar somehow, much like our own lakeside family reunions.

The author offers the point of view of each of the nine characters, switching from one to another. Each person is loving part of the family, yet we see that each is secretly petty, selfish and even somewhat vindictive. Unacknowledged conflicts rage beneath the surface, sort of like in most families. Only the two boys are young enough to allow their true feelings to come out in the open. Disciplining them amounts to teaching them to hold those feelings inside like the adults do.

The novel, while never riveting, nevertheless proves interesting enough to keep the pages turning. The missing woman does not turn up, and other problems remain unresolved as well. Emily is still lonely. Kenneth still can't make a decent living from his first love, photography. Margaret, just divorced, still wants to drown her depression in drink. Lise still worries that her husband has more to say to his sister than to her. Ella still has a crush on her prettier cousin. And so on. Family vacations usually don't solve problems. They just give us a break from them, or in some cases just bring them out into the open.

For many years my own extended family spent weeks each summer in a cottage along Chautauqua Lake, so O'Nan's many references to places along the lake — such as the Lenhart Hotel, the Bemus Point ferry, the Book Barn, the casino, etc. — made this novel especially appealing to me. It made me wish I were there. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Nov 30, 2020 |
O’Nan’s hefty novel is proof positive that an engrossing, encompassing read doesn’t have to include international spies, doomed spacecraft, intricate heists, or high-speed car chases. There are no superheroes here, no monstrous villains – just a group of people related by blood or marriage, who come together for one last week at the summer home which is being sold after multiple generations of the Maxwell family have made memories there.

The narrative follows the quotidian tasks of surviving a week in close contact with multiple generations of an extended family. What are we eating, who is cooking it, who has to do the dishes? What do we do when it rains and the youngest generation is antsy and bored? Anyone who has ever endured a family reunion, particularly as an in-law or adolescent, will recognize the endless jigsaw puzzle, board game, enforced family fun events as excruciating chores, occasionally tinged by grudgingly acknowledged – if fleeting – moments of incandescence.

But it’s also an incisive look at nine people whose pasts and futures, needs and wants, have interlocked in a towering Jenga of love and resentment, memory and loss, struggle and acceptance. And every one of them, from retired teacher Arlene, seeing her brother’s widow cavalierly parting with a property that by rights should be half hers, to eight-year-old Justin, struggling with his parents’ divorce and the heavy burden of always being the baby of the group, gets their POV moment. The characters run true and deep, rubbing against each other in the lakeside cabin, sorting through the keepsakes and deciding what to take and what to leave behind as they prepare for this watershed event in all their lives.

A satisfying, juicy read, regardless of the season. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Nov 21, 2019 |
Reading this novel out of published order (last instead of first), and so hard on the heels of the third in the trilogy, Henry Himself, is a bit too much of the Maxwell family of Pittsburgh in the 1980s. Emily, Alone (the title of the second novel), matriarch and widow of Henry, is still infuriatingly persnickety, permanently angry, and harsh to her children. They all make their annual trip to Lake Chautauqua, NY under the cloud of it being the final summer in the ancestral family vacation home, which Emily is reluctantly selling against the wishes of daughter Margaret and son Ken. The freshest character is granddaughter Emma, who develops a crush on, and yearns for the life of, her prettier cousin Sarah. O'Nan's ability to take on the point of view of almost every single family member is remarkable, but their thoughts are generally fairly commonplace and even banal, which perhaps hits a bit too close to home in this era when we all feel obligated to stretch ourselves into the territory of the exceptional. ( )
  froxgirl | May 31, 2019 |
Okay. Now I know more about the Maxwell family - a LOT more, after more than 500 pages, deeply immersed in their week-long family vacation on Lake Chautauqua the summer after the family patriarch, Henry has died.

The thing is I first read EMILY, ALONE, which was the second, or middle book of the Maxwell trilogy. Then I read Stewart O'Nan's newest one, HENRY, HIMSELF, kind of a prequel to the other two. Loved both of these books, which took us deep into the minds of this older couple, with all their memories both shared and separate. And now I've read the first book, written 17 years ago. And this is a deep read, with looks into the minds of multiple members of the Maxwell clan. Let's see, there's the widow, Emily, of course, and her sister-in-law Arlene, a retired, unmarried teacher. Then there are Emily and Henry's two adult children, Meg and Ken. And Ken's wife, Lise. And Ken and Lise's two children, Sam and Ella. Meg (the wild one, a recovering alcoholic and addict) is almost divorced, and brings her two children, Justin and Sarah. The two boys are around 10, and the girls are young teens, with some sexual awakening going on. Skinny, brainy Ella has something of a bad crush on here cousin, Sarah, who is a bit boy-obsessed. Both Ken and Meg are having job and money problems. And Emily has sold the cottage, which doesn't sit well with any of them. So that's the cast of characters that assembles in the Maxwell family cottage at the lake, coming from Pittsburgh, Boston and Detroit.

Nothing much happens during this week, the usual chit-chat, petty jealousies, resentments and various other problems of this mildly dysfunctional family. And yet I found myself slowly sucked into the mundane activities of this ordinary bunch of people, and kept turning the pages, only occasionally getting impatient for SOMETHING TO HAPPEN. Nothing ever really does, though. Although throughout the story there is a shadowy backstory about a teenage store clerk who has gone missing, maybe kidnapped. That story lurks there, mostly in Ken's consciousness, but the others are vaguely aware of it too, following the latest news updates on the missing girl. Well here's the thing about that - a few years back I read O'Nan's later novel, SONGS FOR THE MISSING, which was all about a girl who went missing from her small Ohio town, and how it affected the rest of her family - an excellent story I found very compelling. So it seems to me that this later book, SftM, was probably already percolating in the back of O'Nan's mind WHILE he was meandering through this much longer study of a family in flux. Just a theory.

I liked WISH YOU WERE HERE, but occasionally I did hope for something exciting to happen, for the pace to pick up a bit. It never really did, but in the meantime I enjoyed learning more about Emily and Henry's far-flung, messed up family and its history. If you are an O'Nan fan, and if you enjoyed the other two later Maxwell books, then this one is required background reading. I'm glad I read it.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Apr 18, 2019 |
Gave it 70 pages before giving up. darnit. ( )
  dcmr | Jul 4, 2017 |
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Award-winning writer Stewart O'Nan has been acclaimed by critics as one of the most accomplished novelists writing today. Now comes his finest and most complete novel to date. A year after the death of her husband, Henry, Emily Maxwell gathers her family by Lake Chautauqua in western New York for what will be a last vacation at their summer cottage. Joining is her sister-in-law, who silently mourns the sale of the lake house, and a long-lost love. Emily's firebrand daughter, a recovering alcoholic recently separated from her husband, brings her children from Detroit. Emily's son, who has quit his job and mortgaged his future to pursue his art, comes accompanied by his children and his wife, who is secretly heartened to be visiting the house for the last time. Memories of past summers resurface, old rivalries flare up, and love is rekindled and born anew, resulting in a timeless novel drawn, as the best writing often is, from the ebbs and flow of daily life.

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