By Julia Glass
416 pages; Pantheon
Some books grab you from the first page. Julia Glass's novel, The Widower's Tale, lightly touches you on the shoulder and requests your kind attention to an enchanting story of familial bonds and late-life romance. Expect to be infatuated with Glass's protagonist, 70-year-old Percy Darling, he of the generous soul, dry wit, and courtly manners. Living alone in a rural enclave near Boston, he clings to the emotional reticence he cultivated after losing his wife—until he falls for the much younger Sarah. Making love to her for the first time, he's a poignant combination of passion and vulnerability. "She did not, thank heaven, tell me that I was handsome or virile or sexy. She just closed her eyes again and wrapped herself more tightly around me." Meanwhile, a rich mix of other characters play out their own dramas in a leisurely fashion. But who cares how long the journey takes when you're in such good company?