Atlanta author Zoe Fishman tells a touching story of two lost and emotionally damaged women who develop a friendship that helps repair their broken souls.
Maggie Sheets is a single mother who works as a house cleaner in Manhattan, dreaming of days when her financial issues will end and a blissful life will begin. Her life is changed forever when she learns that her former employer and friend, Liza, has killed herself and has left Maggie her beautiful home in Sag Harbor. The only catch? Maggie has to take care of Liza’s 82-year-old mother, Edith.
Edith has fully enjoyed her independence despite old age, but after Liza’s death and a recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, that independence becomes threatened. Edith is stubborn and guarded, which makes it hard for Maggie and her 2-year-old daughter, Lucy, to adjust to their new living situation. Maggie attempts to help Edith in any way possible, but Edith is hurt from Liza’s death and seemingly uninterested with becoming close. That is, until Edith suffers a fall and must rely on Maggie.
Edith begins to worry that her memories of her youth and her beloved daughter might disappear, so Maggie offers to transcribe her memories. The two begin to open up to each other and grow close, revealing their dark secrets and discussing the hurt that Liza left them with. They help each other heal and work through their damaged pasts. The more Edith shares with Maggie, the more they begin to fill in the missing pieces of each other’s lives. A character in the book says to Maggie, “I mean, here you are, caring for a woman who’s losing her memories, and yours come back. It makes perfect sense.”
Although this seems like a light read at first, the characters’ backstories become increasingly complex, showing more sides to their personalities and explaining the roots of their actions. Even Fishman’s supporting characters are diverse and play a major part in Edith’s and Maggie’s healing. For example Esther, Edith’s hilarious best friend, meddles in just about everything, but is especially useful once Edith’s diagnosis progresses and Maggie had a difficult time adjusting.
Fishman has written a a beautiful story about healing and working through past mistakes to create second chances. There’s laughter and heart, a bit of romance and plenty of drama, with a bond so strong at the center of Inheriting Edith that it can’t help but pull at your heart strings. Friendship can build from the most unexpected places, and the friendship Maggie and Edith find in each other helps them learn forgiveness, acceptance—and what it means to truly be there for someone.
Out today, Inheriting Edith is one of our 2016 Fall/Winter Reading picks. View the full reading list here.