Title: Every Last Cuckoo
Author: Kate Maloy
Release Date: January 21, 2008
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Sarah Lucas’s husband Charles was critically injured on one of his daily walks in the woods behind their house. When he succumbs to his injuries, Sarah is bereft – she and Charles were very much in love right until the very end. As Sarah reflects on her life and the choices she made to lead her to this point, she allows her granddaughter to come live with her in order to escape some problems she is having at home. Little does she know that is just the first of the lost souls she will take in, changing her life and their lives in the process.
My book club read Every Last Cuckoo in July, but since I was at Oxford during the meeting, I didn’t get around to reading it until now. I knew that they all really enjoyed it, and generally I’ve heard good things, but I didn’t really know what to expect. The fact that the main character was so much older than me made me hesitant as to whether I could sympathize with her or not.
I’m glad to say I needn’t have worried. Every Last Cuckoo was a wonderfully written novel that was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Sarah was a superb main character. Despite the age difference, I could really identify with her. She reflected on her life and her mistakes as the novel progressed, while also trying to build something new for herself.
One thing I very much appreciated about Every Last Cuckoo was how real Sarah was. Often in novels where the protagonist accepts people into her home, she is portrayed as a saint. However, Sarah isn’t one – while she tries to do good things, she often gets frustrated by the number of people in her house. She doesn’t especially want to mother a brood of people and makes sure they are looking after themselves. She spends her time being increasingly selfish, but in a wonderful way. Though she does open her home and her heart, Sarah makes sure she is putting herself and her needs, while not first, very high on her list.
I also liked that Sarah wasn’t a perfect mother. She admits to making mistakes with all of her children here and there and does her best to acknowledge them and move on. The result is a startlingly real woman who is incredibly well fleshed out. Sarah was a wonderful character, and I loved getting to know her.
Every Last Cuckoo is a sweet novel that’s really enjoyable and easy to read. It’s hard to believe this is Kate Maloy’s debut novel, since the characters are so impeccably drawn and it’s so well-written. I can’t wait to see what she does next.