Title: Walter's Muse by Jean Davies Okimoto
Paperback, Feb. 1, 2012; Endicott and Hugh Books
Objective rating: 5/5
Genre: contemporary fiction
Comments: The setting in this novel spoke to me - summer on an island in Puget Sound, with the main characters living in cottages along a beach on a scenic cove with views of the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Ranier.
The people in the novel are carefully drawn characters and relaxed retirees, for the most part, who look out for each other - Maggie, who exercises by kayaking once or twice a day; Howie and Mark, who share produce from their vegetable garden, and their generator-powered refrigerator during electric outages; Martha Jane, a philosophical and whimsical woman in her 90s who inspires others on the island with her meditative views on life; and Walter, a once successful children's writer who has come to the island to revive his writing career.
A horrific summer storm brings the island neighbors Maggie and Walter together again after twenty years, a time when she was a school librarian and he a successful writer of children's books. How they get together with the help of the others is the main romance of this novel. The novel is also about growing old, acceptance of change, and living with grace.
Here, Martha asks 90 year old Martha Jane about aging:
"How do you do it?"
"Do what, dear?"
"Be old. How do you be old?"
"Every day I wake at dawn to watch the sun rise. I wait like a child to see what nature will offer. Then I have a lovely breakfast with eggs from Howie and Mark's chickens and toast with Margaret Buckman's Jam....
"And then what?"
"And what, dear?"
"About being old."
"Oh, well, I try to do each thing with absolute concentration....
My friends and family tell me they enjoy the pleasure of my company and I suppose that connection is enough of a purpose for me now. " (ch. 13)
Visit author Jean Davies Okimoto's website. She has received numberous awards for her children's books and short stories, which have been translated into several languages. Jeanie began writing for adults when she and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004.
Click on the link for TLC tour schedule and other reviews of Walter's Muse.
UPDATE: The contest winner is Zibilee. Congrats!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a complimentary review copy of this novel and the giveaway.