I read this years ago and was disappointed in it. I'd just fallen in love with Lurie via "The Truth About Lorin Jones," and didn't think this lived up to that. Also, I know Lurie loves drawing on her previous novels for characters, but I thought she took it a little too far here. A surprise appearance near the end of the novel strains credibility, especially given this book's relationship to "Lorin Jones."
I'm older now; and while I think my previous criticisms still stand, I found more to admire this time around. Lurie talks a great deal about mortality, aging and its accompanying discomforts. These concepts aren't comfortably distant for me, and I appreciate Lurie's take on them. Molly Hopkins, one of my favorite characters, has some of the book's finer, wittier thoughts in this respect. I enjoyed this passage especially:
"In Molly's mind, death appeared as a sort of invisible flying red dinosaur, like the one on a red rubber stamp marked AIR MAIL that she sometimes used. Or rather, considering everything, there was probably a whole company or battalion or army of flying red dinosaurs. These stupid, greedy reptiles cruised forever over the Earth, occasionally and randomly swooping down to snatch someone in their long carnivorous jaws. Sometimes, since they were not only stupid but clumsy, they dropped their victims again in a more or less damaged condition (heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, fractured hips). But, drawn by the scent of blood, they would be back.
"Molly herself was one of those whom the flying dinosaurs had snatched up and dropped. As a result she now had bad eyesight, a wonky heart, and crippling arthritis. Not too long from now, presumably, the dinosaurs would return for her. When her arthritis was worst, she hoped it would be soon.
"....But usually Molly wanted the flying dinosaurs to stay away a little longer, because the world was full of things she didn't want to miss: an upcoming party, a new detective story by Tony Hillerman or Susan Conant, a Thai restaurant that had just opened, a visit from a granddaughter back from an archaeological dig in Ireland. Also, always, there was her curiosity as to what would happen next. For her, both Convers and Key West were full of interesting characters and ongoing soap operas, and her children's and grandchildren's lives were like long-running, richly populated comic strips. ...It would be a sham, really, to miss the next installment."