It’s where you sit down that determines everything in life. One Vacant Chair is a hilarious and gripping novel by New York Times Notable Book of the Year author Joe Coomer, whom the Washington Times calls “a marvelously creative comic writer.”
As the owner of several antique stores in Texas, Joe Coomer has an affinity for old chairs. So much so that the main character of his latest novel, Aunt Edna, paints portraits of them. Not people in chairs, just chairs. At the funeral of Grandma Hutton—whom Edna has cared for through an agonizingly long and vague illness—Sarah begins helping her aunt clean up the last of a life. This includes honoring Grandma’s wish to have her ashes scattered in Scotland—although she had never left the state of Texas.
“We were two fat women, eighteen years apart, a chair artist and a designer of Christmas ornaments, who only knew we had troubles and a hot summer to get through,” says Sarah. But as it turns out, there is a great deal more to her quirky aunt’s troubles than Sarah could possibly imagine. As the novel turns from the oppressive heat of Texas to the cool, misty beauty of Scotland, she learns of her Aunt Edna’s remarkable secret life and comes to fully understand the fragile business of living and even dying.
I was impressed at how well Coomer pulled off writing as a female, really two as Sarah's aunt's voice figures prominently in the story as well. Howlett's narration proves a perfect fit for those women, as well as James, Edna's significant other. Highly recommended.
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