Member Reviews

I listen to the book Elmington by Renee Lehnen about a grown daughter name Martha who goes to help her dad who is getting older and isn’t doing so well on his own as he used to. While visiting her dad she meets the librarian Emajen and they start a tentative friendshi but the whole time Emaging in Martha flirt around something more.hip while Martha is down taking care of her dad Gordon, but when Gordon is found dead Martha is accused of his murder. I originally wanted to listen to this book now rated by Carol Ann because I thought it was a murder mystery but the murder and the mystery happens very far into the book. We first learned about Martha her sons quick marriage to a girl who belongs to a cult that doesn’t “believe“ in technology her riders block her alcohol problem but having said that it’s still a very interesting read I thought the narrator had an awesome voice and I loved the banter between her and Imogen. If you’re looking for a smartly done well told story about a adult daughter trying to take care of her ill father and learning who is she is in her older age then you definitely should read this book it really is interesting just not the book I thought I was getting. I want to thank storyline press for my free arc copy via NetGalley please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review

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I really enjoyed listening to this character study of a woman and her father, around the contentious topic of assisted dying, and their surrounding lives, during the covid pandemic. Carol Anne Shaw, was an enjoyable narrator, and really helped to bring the characters to life. I do agree with some other reviews, that the book ended a bit abruptly, and the resolution of some of the relationships didn't go the way I expected, but overall I would definitely recommend this book.

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Elmington by Renee Lehnen

Gordon Grey is a 78 year old widower with very poor health and not too long to live. He would like to choose when he dies and this novel explores this situation in a sympathetic way without descending into the usual sugar coated way or worse still portraying Gordon as the stereotypical grumpy old man. Gordon is actually the nicest and most polite of Gentlemen and I warmed to him straight away, more than I can say for some of his neighbours!

The story goes into great detail about Gordon’s life and family and also the various interactions with neighbours but from the very beginning the reader (listener) will be in no doubt that things will not go to plan. The writing very cleverly takes us backward in time then forward to learn the consequences.

This is a great story, it gently guides you through Gordon’s last couple of weeks without reverting to ‘Thriller Novel’ tactics. I can wholeheartedly recommend you read or listen to this great novel.

I just reviewed Elmington by Renee Lehnen. #Elmington #NetGalley
[NetGalley URL] Published 21st April 2024.

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“Elmington” delves into the complexities of life in in an upper middle class suburb, intricate family dynamics, the journey to self-acceptance, burdensome health issues, and the contentious issue of medical assistance in dying (MAID).

Gordon Gray is a retired librarian who lives in alone in his house in Elmington, Ontario. He battles with COPD and a myriad of other health issues while stubbornly clinging to his smoking habit against medical advice. Martha (Gordon’s only child) who is an academic and lives in Vancouver is completed to return to Elmington and eventually move him into a nursing home. Gordon struggles with the nursing home’s strict no-smoking policy and grapples with existential questions, desiring control over his end through assisted dying, which his physician opposes. Gordon's death during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 leads to complications implicating Martha

There are other subplots about Martha, Imogen (friend of Gordon who becomes close to Martha), and a slight overview of Joseph (Martha’s wife).

Carol Anne Shaw narrates “Elmington” beautifully. She employs several accents, voices, and tones that breathe life into the story.

While "Elmington" is a well-crafted exploration of familial challenges and health issues, I found it emotionally taxing given my personal circumstances. The novel prompts deep reflection, particularly on the ethical complexities surrounding assisted suicide and its impact on both the individual and their loved ones. Gordon emerges as a lovable yet grumpy character, though the frequent use of "the old man" to describe him, particularly by his daughter, grated on me. The other characters, intentionally or not, lacked likability. Nonetheless, "Elmington" offers an intriguing perspective and is recommended for those interested in its themes.

I extend my gratitude to Netgalley and IBPA for providing the opportunity to review this audiobook.

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I wasn't expecting this book to affect me in the way that it did! I am at the opposite end of the timeline as this character, but the writing was done so well that I truly feel like I was right there with him. This book has made me take a deeper look at my own perspective of my own judgement calls.

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The main premise of end-of-life choices isn’t an easy one, but an important one.
Author Renee Lehnen explores some of the complexities and jarringly conflicting emotions that come up when discussing the topic in this story through a small group of characters.
The story takes place around 2019—into the real pandemic, and had a few moments of flash-forward commentary chapters circling the event of the character Gordon’s passing.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first but I got how it was getting the reader to really saturate in how emotionally intricate decisions were for everyone involved. In doing so, it also gives a nuanced measure to the life, and passage of time surrounding Gordon and his daughter Martha.

The overall tone of the story bordered satirical and at times I wasn’t sure who the tail-end of the joke was suppose to be, but it lended to the balance of seriousness of the plot.

There is no simple way to deal with ethical and/or moral judgements when it comes to the needs and wishes of those you love. In many of these cases, any of the outcomes would lead to pain for someone involved no matter what. At the same time, it also forces people to really consider what palliative care means and to what extent. And from there, some have to evaluate whose wishes they’re actually prioritizing.

Ultimately, this book and its story attempts to tackle those very questions in as a realistically thoughtful way that it can.

My appreciation to NetGalley for access to the novel.

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I love a fiery elderly protagonist, and Elmington delivers in this charming, funny, and poignant tale of aging, family and autonomy. Gordon is a retired librarian who just wants to smoke, read, and see his daughter and grandson happy. Martha is a divorced middle-aged academic struggling with her sexuality, motherhood, and how to properly love, respect and honor the wishes of her father. As these two navigate their lives, there limitation and their sense of self as the COVID pandemic looms raises questions about who should be making decisions as a person ages, and how those decisions should be made. Cantankerous and extremely loving, Gordon deals not only with the ailments of an aging chainsmoker but also with the fallout of parenting decisions made decades before as he loved his wife and daughter, even when his wife’s treatment of his daughter leans toward abuse.

Lehnen explores family dynamics, and the bureaucracy around aging, interweaving this with the community around the elderly, and how those community members interact and often look to profit (financially, emotionally, and socially) from the aging and dying.

I laughed, I cried, I squealed, and I loved while listening to this book.

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This book started out really well and I was enjoying the plot.

Gordon Gray is in his late 80s. All he wants is to putter along, smoking when he likes and where he likes, doing what he wants to do with a quick death at the time of his choosing. Unfortunately modern medicine doesn't agree and even though Gordon has stated quite clearly that he wants assisted dying, it seems that its never quite the right time for the authorities to agree. He's either too healthy or not capable of giving a considered opinion. The point between too early and too late is miniscule.

Sounds good. However the characters of Martha and Imogen got on my nerves quite badly and took away my enjoyment of the rest of the book. It's certainly an important conversation that a lot of us will have in our lifetimes.

Both Martha and Imogen are really unlikeable characters. I didn't think much to Joe or Tayana either (sorry, I listened to the audio and don't know the spelling for Joe's wife). Imogen was probably the most detestable - pushy, rude and swearing for the sake of it. Martha appeared to be an intelligent person but all her choices seemed ridiculous.

Also, the timeline for Gordon going into the nursing home seemed rushed. Martha had been around a few weeks and yet she was exhausted? By what? I'm also certain Gordon would have realised that any independence would be gone the minute he agreed to a care home. It was all somewhat unbelievable. Martha's actions in the immediate aftermath of Gordon's death didn't ring true. Why run off without a word. I understand she was probably shocked but it wasn't as if she hadn't already agreed to help Gordon so it seemed uncharacteristic. I didn't buy any of it.

The audio was narrated by Carole Anne Shaw. Her characterisation of all the women except Martha really grated. They all sounded like they were high. Otherwise she had a good, clear voice that was a pleasure to listen to.

Thankyou to Netgalley for the advance review copy.

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There is much to like in the novel Elmington: the plot is relevant and relatable (especially in my home state of Illinois, where the legislature is to take up a bill making assisted dying legal, with appropriate restrictions and processes similar to those in Elmington) and it moves along at a nice pace; the main characters are well developed and show all-too-human flaws and good intentions. However, the other characters, including Joe and his wife, Martha's old friends, Gordon's next door neighbor, Simon (who we don't meet but who plays an important supporting role), the health workers, nursing home administrator, doctor, and more are mostly cardboard-like stereotyped characters, some more believable than others. Lehnen raises important moral issues and she presents the reader with much to think about. Carol Anne Shaw's narration is more than adequate, although not outstanding. All-in-all, this is a fine thought-provoking audiobook that should have wide appeal

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Elmington starts out as a fairly well-worn trope of the gruff, lonely curmudgeon father unwilling to face a changing world and his reduction in faculties while confronted with a daughter with a very different view on how his life should be.

To that, Lehnen adds a great deal of nuance and interest with some twists on the characters. The nuances start appearing as he and his daughter get on opposite trajectories -- he sees nothing left for him in life and contemplates medically assisted suicide while her return to her hometown to care for her father rekindles relationships with past friends/acquaintances and even brings her son and his new wife in for a visit.

Things take a bit of a turn as he finally acquiesces to go into a nursing home, but it's still a very entertaining and all too believable situation of people trying to do the right thing and be compassionate up against the rules of a system meant to look at groups rather than individuals. This is all the more exacerbated by COVID, which wreaks havoc on nursing home life and visitation.

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I liked #Elmington by #ReneeLehnen because I could relate to some parts of the story. MC's dad (a retired librarian) is on oxygen - my Dad was too (though my Dad quit smoking in his 40's & lived to 91). Describes how it must have felt at times. Strained but caring family. Adapting to life in a nursing home, pre- & during COVID; no visiting - my Dad was gone by then but Mom was there; we couldn't visit her during her last days.
🇨🇦 locations (Vancouver, Toronto & more). Discusses assisted death, wow love, parenting, complicated relationships - family, frenemies, neighbours, healthcare providers. Really felt the frustration when a patient coherently expressed wishes for end of life, then Dr decides incompetence when the patient takes a turn for the worse. Agonizing dilemma for care providers. Ends a bit abruptly, expected more...tying of loose ends, I guess but it was enough. Read well by #carolanneshaw though I sometimes wished for more defined character voices. Thanks to #NetGalley for the eARC to review! 😊

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Wow,! Such a timely novel. Covers early years of Covid in Canada.I received an early audiobook to review and found it at times very humorous on such a difficult situation we all face in life. Discussing very serious questions with your parents. . . To Resuscitate or DNR? Not a subject I ever thought I would have to have with my children but, we all must. In the book, he deals with COPD, the use of oxygen and the unwillingness to stop smoking while using oxygen. The daughter has to try to figure that one out. I love satirical humor and this is done so perfectly. I can’t praise this book enough. I did get a bit bored in the middle, then we Renee were off to another storyline which kept my attention to the end. Yes I will definitely be recommending this memoir. Special thanks to the following for allowing me to review early:
Author #ReneeLehnen
Narrator #CarolAnneShaw
Publication Date: April 21, 2024

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Wow...just wow...this is a contender for best book of the year! So much to think about and debate on this one, it would be a perfect book club read. My heart breaks for Gordon, Martha, and Joseph all in different ways. There were a few moments where I really wanted to (and sometimes did) physically cry. The summary intrigued me as well as the genre of humour and satire. Midway reading this novel though I was getting disappointed by the plot not following through on its promise fast enough and the lack of laugh out loud moments. The slow burn on Gordon and Martha's case is totally worth it and in hindsight I appreciate the pacing and tone of the novel. Martha's personality is something like "girl who wants to fit in but chooses not to on purpose", and while I did find her thoughts and predicaments funny, the genre labeling had me expecting something more slap stick and in your face funny. I loved the setting of Canada through the years of 2019 - 2021, novels centered around Covid never excite me initially but the pandemic played an important role in this story and I was happy to gain new insight on what others went through during this time. Another praise of the book is how the seemingly random details that I assumed were there to fill the comedy criteria actually came around to play an important role later to the story, such as Joseph being a part of a cult like community and Imagin's lesbian erotica side hustle. All in all I felt every emotion under the rainbow while on this journey and despite the grim but important conversation this book introduces, I had a blast reading it. I am looking forward to reading more of Lehnen's work!

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