I’ve loved Joyce Maynard’s writing since I read Labor Day many moons ago – and remember fondly that it was one of the first books I got to review as a book blogger. Since then I’ve read many of her other books – at home in the world; which I bought in London before attending their memoir writing retreat in Guatemala, Under the Influence; a present from my ex-boyfriend that he bought me from a bookstore in Venice Beach for our one year anniversary; After Her, which I read over a long weekend in Byron Bay, and The Best of Us – a book that made me cry ugly, endless, unending tears while home alone in my North Hollywood apartment. I vividly remember reading and loving each one of them, and I was so overjoyed when Joyce announced that at the start of the pandemic she was working on a new book in isolation at her home on Lake Atitlan.
After a failed attempt to get an advance copy from the US, my local Bondi bookstore ordered it for me, and while I had a solid list of books to work through in July; As soon as my copy arrived, all of the other books were quickly pushed aside to make way for Count the Ways, Joyce’s tenth book.
Count the Ways book review
There are few writers who captivate me like Joyce. Usually while reading, no matter how much I love a book, I find it almost impossible to read for more than twenty minutes at a time without looking at my phone (God knows – it’s a habit I’ve gotten into that I do indescribably hate). And yet, as I read Count the Ways, I struggled to tear myself away from it. I was torn about ripping it through in a single session and enjoying it so it would last. In the end, I read it for four days – my to-do list fell by the wayside, my number of steps dwindled; ignored my phone (thank goodness) as I was reminded of the unchanging joy of leaving the world behind and getting lost in the pages of a book.
I’ve spoken before about Joyce’s sense of attitude being second to none, and Count the Ways reminded me exactly why I love her writing. As a reader, I was transported to the New Hampshire farm that is behind much of the story and is as much a character as the family within.
A story about love, marriage, parenting, infidelity, art and forgiveness. Count the Ways is an epic family saga that traces the lives of Eleanor and Cam from their first meeting to their blooming romance through to child-rearing years and ultimately the end of their relationship after a tragedy that shook the family to the core.
I loved the family, rich in nuances and complexities; I loved the nostalgia that went seamlessly into the story, I loved the layered characters and the way Joyce portrayed the popular farmhouse character in and of itself, full of chaos and laughter and joy until one day it was’ T. An ambitious and flawless story of an imperfect family and their mistakes and misconduct; Count the Ways is a powerful saga about love and loss and the redeeming power of forgiveness. Like every one of Joyce’s books that I have read, it is a story that I will push into the hands of anyone whose power and urgency I will long remember.
Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard Summary
In her most ambitious novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard tells the story of a family from the hopeful early days of a young marriage to parenthood, divorce, and its costly aftermath – to shed light on how parents’ mistakes are passed on through generations to fester away or to be healed.
After falling in love in the final years of the 1970s, Eleanor and Cam pursue their dream of raising three children on a New Hampshire farm. They have a seemingly idyllic life with summer softball games and Labor Day barbecues, snowy days and ice skating on the pond. But when a tragic accident permanently injures the youngest child in the family, Eleanor blames Cam. Her inability to forgive him leads to a devastating betrayal: an affair with the family babysitter that ends their marriage.
In the decades that followed, the five members of this fragmented family – and the many others who make up their world – make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together and often tear them apart. As we guide the family from the days of illegal abortion and drafting, through the early computer age, the Challenger explosion, the AIDS epidemic, the early awakening of the #MeToo era, and beyond, to one of the children’s sex reassignments and beyond, follow When someone else decides to stop communicating with their mother, we see a family forced to face the essential, painful truths of their past and find salvation in the face of an unexpected catastrophe.
With lovably flawed characters and a keen eye for detail, Joyce Maynard transforms the area she knows best – home, family, parenting, love and loss – into the stuff of a flipping thriller. In this painfully beautiful novel, she reminds us how great sorrow and great joy can co-exist – and often do.
Buy Count the Ways at Bookshop.org, Book Depository, Waterstones, Amazon or Amazon AU.
It is worth reading this article on Elle; especially for the beautiful pictures of Joyce in her house on Lake Atitlan: Joyce Maynard is at home in her world.
Joyce Maynard Author Bio
Joyce Maynard is the author of seven previous novels, including To Die For, Labor Day, and The Good Daughters, and four non-fiction books. Her bestselling memoir, At Home in the World, has been translated into sixteen languages. Maynard’s bestselling novel Labor Day was directed by Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Maynard makes her home in California.
More books by Joyce Maynard
Maynard is the author of many fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel To Die For (in which she also plays the role of Nicole Kidman’s attorney) and the best-selling memoir, At Home in the World, Maynard lives in Mill Valley, California. Her novel, The Usual Rules – a story about surviving loss – is popular with book club audiences of all ages and was voted one of the ten best books for young readers in 2003 by the American Library Association.
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