Zoe Fishman's novel, Inheriting Edith, could have been a depressing novel about a single mom, a woman with Alzheimer's and a suicide. Instead, it's a novel with heart and love, and a story of two people growing to understand each other, with a little push from a friend.
Maggie Sheen has a college degree, but discovered she could make better money cleaning houses for wealthy clients than she could working in an office. But, she struggles as any single mother would with childcare for her toddler, Lucy. So, when she's told she inherited a house in Sag Harbor, New York from a client she hadn't spoken to in four years, she doesn't believe it. She's told there's a caveat, though. She also inherits Liza's mother, Edith, an eighty-two-year-old in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
Edith is just angry. She's angry at her daughter, Liza, for committing suicide. She's angry that she has Alzheimer's. And, she's angry that some stranger will be moving in, living in Liza's house, intruding on Edith's day, and watching her. There's some guilt in her anger. Could she have been a better mother to Liza, helped her more with her depression?
Maggie does understand depression because her own mother suffered from it. In fact, Maggie turned to cleaning as a way to help her mother, to show her a perfect daughter. And, all of the memories of her relationship with her parents, her disagreement with Liza, all of those feelings come back as she spends time with Edith.
It's Lucy, a friendly but demanding two-year-old, who makes a connection between Maggie and Edith. And, it's Edith's delightful friend, Esther, who adds the levity and pushes Maggie and Edith to deal with life. Lucy and Esther add the spark to Fishman's novel. They furnish the light touch needed in what could have been a novel with a heavy spirit. Fishman uses the voices of Maggie and Edith to tell the story. But, she uses the spirit of Esther and Lucy, their joy in life, to keep the story from dragging down the reader's spirit.
This isn't Lisa Genova's Still Alice. Inheriting Edith includes Alzheimer's, but it's really a novel about learning to cope with life, and learning that we all need others in order to cope. As I said, it's a story with heart.
Zoe Fishman's website is www.zoefishman.net
Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman. William Morrow. 2016. ISBN 9780062378743 (paperback), 304p.
Here is the HarperCollins purchase information for Inheriting Edith. https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062378743/inheriting-edith
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy of the book in order to participate in the book tour.