When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.
As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman’s New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return.
MY REVIEW: "Bettyville", a beautifully-written memoir from author George Hodgman, will gently break places in your heart, and then it will tenderly patch them back together with warmth and humor. George Hodgman becomes the care provider for his elderly mother, Betty, leaving his life in Manhattan behind and returning to his home town of Paris, Missouri. Having reached the age of ninety-something by living in her own indomitable manner, Betty will not go quietly into old-age oblivion. As issues such as dementia, cancer, and increasing physical frailty creep into the picture, Betty remains a force to be reckoned with. At the age of ninety-one, she chooses to fight her cancer, and begins radiation therapy. Throughout all of their rumblings and grumblings while reconnecting and acclimating to once again living in the same house, it becomes clear that there is a great love between mother and son. Seeing Betty struggle, yet refuse to surrender her spirit, leads George to discover his own personal strengths and gives him the courage to move forward with choices for his future. My own mother's name was Betty, and while our life situation was quite different from George and his mother, much of our circumstances were similar. While George left home and then came back, I stayed with my mother for almost fifty years. My Betty and I were separated only when she passed away. George and his Betty remain together. "Bettyville" is keenly-observed, poignant, and written with great heart. A recommended read for caregivers, but also for those who receive the care.
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