Cover Image: Somebody's Fool

Somebody's Fool

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Member Reviews

I loved the two other books in the series and this one is every bit as good. Russo is such a lovable writer.  The characters are real unbelievable and he makes the setting come alive as well. I will be sad to say goodbye to these great characters and their story. I hope Russell continues to write many more wonderful believable works.
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This is a not-quite-four star rating. I miss Sully. He was crabby and seemed like a ne'er-do-well, but, for all his flaws, I loved his sense of humor and how deeply he cared about the people in his life. I wondered how this story would pick up after his passing. I feel like this story just picks up with some of the secondary characters and, surprisingly, shows how despite Sully's worries and the lists he gave asking them to look out for each other, they actually do OK. I did not see it before but Russo's series reminds me a bit of Wendell Berry's Port William novels. If you started with the series, you should finish it off with this one (although, I wonder if there will be -- and there could be another). If not, go back and start at the beginning. PS. I never saw the movie so I don't see Paul Newman as Sully or Philip Seymour Hoffman as Raymer, but I might watch them now that I am done.
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Richard Russo spins such a deliciously engaging yarn about these Empire Falls peeps; they’re relatable & entertaining. His writing is always on-point & a great flip after watching “Empire Falls” for the 483rd time. 
Pick it up, y’all - you can thank me later.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for honest feedback.
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Richard Russo does it again! Warm and witty, we are welcome back to upstate New York. it’s like we never left. It’s like catching up with old friends after a long absence. Definitely worth the trip.
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Sully's ghost wasn't enough to keep me interested in North Bath

Reading Somebody's Fool is like reading Don Quixote without Quixote or The Catcher in the Rye without Holden Caulfield. Like the solar system without the sun. There's a central character missing and each satellite character continues to reflect the warmth of the missing character.

If this is your first North Bath book or even your first Russo book there's plenty here for you to love. In fact, you'll probably love the book more than I did. The characters are flawed and interesting, and the story is humorous and entertaining. It's probably a little too long (could have gotten to the point faster) but I enjoyed reading it.

But I missed Sully too much. And so did all the other characters.

Story: 3 star
Character Development: 5 stars
Writing: 4 stars
Lack of Sully: -1 stars
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I wanted to love it, but I really struggled with this one.  Thinking it's just timing on my part as I'm a big fan of Russo and The Bridge of Sighs is one of my all-time favorites.  Certainly enjoyed Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool.  But this slow pace of this one really didn't work for me.  Not never, just not now.
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I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Richard Russo’s writing.  What a joy to be back in North Bath with the familiar characters (even Sully is there in memory and spirit.)
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I started this series at the end and now I’ll go back to fill in the first two. I loved this story and enjoyed these characters. For me, a completely absorbing reading experience.
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Wonderfully engaging ongoing tale of the author’s set of characters in a small town in upstate New York.  Whether these characters are familiar to the reader or not, their backstories are revealed in such a way that we come to know them, as well as their forebears.
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Years have passed since the death of Sully Sullivan but he seems to exist on every page of Richard Russo’s Somebody’s Fool in the minds and sometimes hearts of those who knew him well and miss him and those who don’t miss him at all. Taking up the reigns, sometimes unsuccessfully is Sully’s son, Peter, who has been entrusted by Sully with keeping an eye on a list of people who Sully evidently kept an eye on. It’s a group of people who might be considered oddballs like Tina, who, with her grandfather, made a thriving business out of what others would call junk or Rub who almost faded away quite literally when Sully died if Peter hadn’t called on him and given him a purpose.

Parallel to Peter’s story, Peter’s discovery that he might be more like his father than he ever knew, is Police Chief Raymer or is that former Police Chief as North Bath is absorbed by wealthy neighbor Schuyler Springs and Doug Raymer decides that it might be time to retire. His former girlfriend, Charice, (or is that current? Doug Raymer doesn’t know for certain) is now chief of police for Schuyler Springs. When a dead body is found in an abandoned hotel that everyone in North Bath was hoping might be sold and revitalize their businesses, Raymer finds himself playing detective. Who was this man? Someone passing through or one of their own community? And, if the latter, why wasn’t he reported missing? While the investigation occurs, Raymer faces truths about himself and his relationship with Charice and her brother with whom he has a complicated relationship and who undertakes the job to show Raymer what it means to be a Black person in a small town or pretty much anywhere.

As Russo introduces us or reintroduces, as the case may be, to these characters, he also allows them to share their insights:

“I don’t know, Birdie. It’s a slippery slop. Expecting things to be fair? Next, you’ll be demanding justice. Equal opportunity. One morning you’ll wake up and discover you’ve moved to Denmark.”

Peter to Birdie
What might in another author’s hands come off as preachy, in Russo’s becomes insightful and informed with gentle humor. No one is perfect. Everyone has issues, some more than others. But one of the great things about this life is the opportunity to start over that begins every day, every hour, minute, to learn new things about yourself, and if you hate those things, change them. If you can. But you can’t change everything. Sometimes it’s just too late. And that’s something you have to live with and make amends as best possible.

The humanity of these characters is readily apparent. Most of them care, even if they have a hard time showing it or don’t know how to show it. They struggle and fail and sometimes succeed. And while it’s not always done gracefully, it’s mostly done with good humor.

With regards to my intro, I do believe that I saw the movie of the first book in the series starring Paul Newman as Sully. But even if that’s a mistaken belief on my part, I didn’t need to read the other two books to follow this one. However, backwards as it is, I’m going to read those two books just because I loved this one so much and want to find out more about these characters. Of course, I’m also wishing that this isn’t a trilogy, that Russo doesn’t stop here because I really want to know what happens to Tina or at least have some idea of where she goes in this life of hers as well as Will, Peter’s son. Where will the next generation go?

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me a copy for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed the characters in this book. My own weakness is that I took my time reading the book, and I couldn’t keep track of all of the characters at first…perhaps this would be less of a problem for someone who had read the two previous books in this series. The one area of the novel that felt a tad disjointed for me was when we learn the identity of the body: I didn’t actually remember that character at all. Again, this could be my own failing. Thanks NetGalley for the ARC.
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This book is the first novel I've ever read by Richard Russo. I vaguely recall watching the film Nobody's Fool with Paul Newman on late night cable in the 1990s and I know it was based on a book of the same name by Russo (in fact, that was the first of  the "Fool" books which make up this particular series). I recently watched the TV series Lucky Hank which was based on another of Russo's books (Straight Man) and found it darkly humorous (and slightly odd), so when I got the opportunity to read this book I thought, 'Why not?'.

Basically Somebody's Fool is about a small town that is dying and a handful of its inhabitants who are at various stages of life doing their best to figure it out (the whole life thing) and, for the most part, failing in unspectacular ways. If that sounds depressing, well, it is at times; it's also poignant, funny, and deeply thought provoking.

Somebody's Fool by Richard Russo is different from what I generally read. I won't go so far as to say it's outside my comfort zone but if I owned a hard copy of this book it would probably be on the bottom shelf, in the corner, behind the end table and badly in need of dusting because it doesn't get picked up often (or ever). 

Suffice to say this is not my "go to" type of reading material. It's very long, it drags at times, and there's a lot of angst and melancholy between deeply thoughtful passages and off-the-wall humor. Liked it, didn't love it; but after finishing the book it kept me thinking...  That's almost  always a good sign. Things that encourage thought.

This book is long, at times I struggled to continue reading, but I was usually glad I did.  I'm giving this three and a half stars (bumped up to four) with the understanding that I may have missed the point completely.
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This is one of those books that makes you wonder why you never read anything by this author before.
And I will read other novels as he's a master storyteller and the novels is riveting and engaging.
Great style of writing and character development
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Again I have read a book where I loved (5 star loved) the first book, forgot to read the second and now jumped into the third.  I hadn’t read a Richard Russo book in a few years and I don’t remember why I waited to so long, he writes so wonderfully and his characters are unique and the dialog is meaningful and funny.

Somebody’s Fool takes place 10 years after Sully’s death in North Bath, a town on the precipice of change.  It is being subsumed into the neighboring, more prosperous town of Schuyler Springs, as of its municipal services are as well, including its police force, which means Doug Raymer, the North Bath police chief is now unemployed. 

Peter Sullivan, Sully’s son is also dealing with changes, he’s remodeling his dad’s home, his son Will is off in England and his younger son, who he abandoned has stopped by from West Virginia.  His son’s reemergence has caused Peter to reexamine his own decisions in life.  

Russo is a beautiful writer and I loved this book.  I now have to read Everybody’s Fool (which has been on my TBR for a few years now).  Russo exposes the economic issues of a small town, personal demons, and the beauty of redemption and he does it with empathy and humor.
If you have never read one of his novels, I urge you to.    

Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Publishing Group for the opportunity to review

4.5 stars for me
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Richard Russo continues to write wonderful books about regular people and examining how to survive in this world. Life isn't always fair and sometimes you need to figure out how to survive anyway.  Or which path to take.
I would definitely recommend this book to others.
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Somebody's Fool is the third in the series of North Bath books by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo who also wrote the beloved novel Empire Falls.  This novel follows the residents of North Bath, it is a struggling town that is becoming unincorporated and being absorbed by the upscale Schyler Springs. 

Russo does such a masterful job of creating this town and all of its inhabitants, it is a master class in character development.  It has been a few years since Sully has died, yet his spirit still lingers, and he has managed to touch and leave an impression on most people in town. Russo creates such flawed characters, yet they are all so human and loveable. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this great novel!!

4.5 stars
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Richard Russo brings us back to North Bath!  Somebody’s Fool is the third book in a series about the town of North Bath and its residents - both groups are living hard scrabbled lives.  Douglas Raymer, former police chief of North Bath, has elected retirement over the same job with the Schuyler Springs force following the merging of the towns.  He’s now trying to figure out the course of his new life, both from professional and personal points of view.
The other primary protagonist, Peter Sullivan, is the college professor son of Sully, the star of the previous two books.  Sully has been dead for 10:years, but his influence and presence is still strongly felt.
Change is a central theme.  The town they love has been going through challenging times and the recession is resulting in some of the businesses just barely surviving.  And, yet, the residents seem to be stuck in place and not able to make any changes.
Once again, Russo beautifully captures his characters and writes lovingly about their relationships, especially friendships.  Many of their lives are broken, and that can get depressing.  For much of the book, the story quietly meanders in and out of their lives, slowly building to a climax at the end when life challenges, a mysterious suicide and budding relationships ( not all of the romantic variety) are all drawn together.
Thanks to Netgalley and Alfred A. Knopf for the opportunity to read Somebody’s Fool in exchange for an honest review.
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Richard Russo doing what he does best by writing about a small town with flawed characters. Picking up from where he last book left off, North Bath and s Jo more which causes various community entities to be no more particularly the police department.  The intertwining of relationships is plausible. The dialogue is real. I could not put the book down. Cannot wait for the next book.
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Years after Sully's death, he continues to be a strong influence on his son, grandsons, and many residents of North Bath, NY, even as it is annexed to its long-time rival, Schuyler Springs, NY.
I am sad to see the end of Russo's "Fool" books but plan to re-read  them, starting with the first, "Nobody's Fool." I even started watching the 1994 film, "Nobody's Fool," starring Paul Newman as Sully.
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