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Inheriting Edith

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A poignant breakout novel, for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Elin Hilderbrand, about a single mother who inherits a beautiful beach house with a caveat—she must take care of the ornery elderly woman who lives in it.

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.

Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.

Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.

299 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2016

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Zoe Fishman

13 books172 followers

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5 stars
2,107 (22%)
4 stars
3,742 (40%)
3 stars
2,746 (29%)
2 stars
537 (5%)
1 star
85 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 948 reviews
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,338 reviews440 followers
July 24, 2016
This book is predictable with stock characters, or it may be just that I've read too many of its sort to be blown away. The framework, outlined in the description and cover notes, presents Maggie, a single mother of a toddler who cleans Manhattan apartments for a living, who is bequeathed a dream house in Sag Harbor by Liza, a former client. The caveat is that Liza's mother is part of the deal, an 82 year old woman who is increasingly becoming afflicted with alzheimer's disease. Anyone who has read any book that covers this kind of set up knows what is going to happen, and the "secrets" revealed are pretty standard. What makes this book worthwhile is the attention given to the affliction of alzheimer's, and the effects it has on those around the person. There was for me, however, a gaping hole at the center of the narrative -- the character of Liza, gone before the story even begins. She seemed the most interesting person on the page and she was't even present.
Profile Image for Moonkiszt.
1,991 reviews208 followers
May 15, 2019
Inheriting Edith

I was snagged right away in this book . . . .the odd juxtaposition of Maggie and Lucy to Edith, and then the story of Liza and how all of their lives had been shaken into the genie bottle of the Sag Harbor house was interesting to me right off the bat. AND having close friends who have had to live with Alzheimer-type loved ones, my sympathies ran deep for all of them. Romance raised its flag is exactly the type of way I find bearable, so it wasn’t a distraction at all. I even enjoyed the side characters who were as developed as much they could be, given their exposure to the reading public.

There were difficult subjects, well handled: suicide, mental illness, Alzheimer’s disease and its erratic course and the damage that living with any one of these creates for families and friends. The resolution presented by the book is one of tolerance, patience, allowances for exasperation, panic and despair followed by an immediate “get-back-on-that-horse-for-sake-of-love-damn-it!” bump. These notes struck harmonious chords to my thinking on facing these hard realities in life. All that said, this is not by any means a sad story. It is happy, funny and well-resolved. I see the characters all moving forward as their various paths fall off the edge of the book’s last page. . . . .very satisfying. No big Wonders left hanging.

The writing was comfortable, the situations not particularly contrived. I will seek out the author’s other books. A worthy read.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,107 reviews1,748 followers
January 18, 2017
The writing lacks continuity, skipping ahead in time when convenient, but the story is touching, nonetheless.
Profile Image for Nirit.
241 reviews9 followers
August 12, 2021
ספר מקסים.
מגי, אם חד הורית שעובדת בניקיון, יורשת מלקוחה לשעבר (לייזה) בית חוף שמגיע עם אמא קשישה (אידית) שמתמודדת עם אלצהיימר.
לאט-לאט אנחנו מבינים מה היה הקשר בין מגי ללייזה ועוקבים אחרי הקשר שנרקם בין מגי לאידית. במהלך יצירת הקשר בינהן מתמודדות, גם אידית וגם מגי, עם האבל על ליזה ובעיקר עם הזכרונות והעבר שלהן.
הספר כייפי לקריאה ובכלל לא כבד כמו שחששתי שיהיה. אני חושבת שהספר יכל ללחוץ קצת יותר על בלוטת הרגש וחבל לי שהסופרת ויתרה על הקתרזיס הזה. חצי כוכב נוסף ירד בגלל הסוף הקטוע של הספר. לא הרגשתי שום סגירת מעגל בסוף הספר. זה הרגיש כאילו שנגמר פרק ולסופרת פשוט לא היה כח לכתוב פרק חדש, אז היא כתבה "הסוף" וסיימה את העבודה. בחיי שניסיתי לדפדף קדימה כדי להיות בטוחה שהספר באמת נגמר. אפשר היה להכניס אפילו אפילוג קצרצר שנותן לקוראים תמונה של שנה-שנתיים קדימה עם עדכון על הדמויות - לא משהו עם ערך ספרותי עמוק, אבל משהו שכן יתן סוג של "קלוזר" לקוראים.
November 1, 2016
Inheriting Edith is one of those books that would make a great movie. The characters are so vivid that you can “hear” their voices, and the mishmash of lives and histories and personalities into a haphazard (and endearing) family of sorts is both heartwarming and amusing in turns.

Esther is by far my favorite character – what a hoot Edith’s friend is! Maybe she’s a bit of a cliche – I don’t know and I don’t really care because she is so much fun to read. Not only fun, but she’s got a big heart and it’s exactly what both Edith and Maggie need as they try to forge a relationship with each other with so much uncertainty and emotional baggage in the mix. Esther just barges on in and inserts herself into the equation – and, in my opinion, makes all the difference.

And Liza – while not technically an active character, she was very much present and very much a part of the novel’s framework. Her influence shapes Edith and Maggie’s interactions with each other from the very beginning, and although they find a friendship all their own her life has left indelible imprints on each of them.

Bottom Line: Inheriting Edith could be a depressing book. After all, it deals with suicide and Alzheimer’s and a host of other emotional issues. Instead, while the novel does provide an authentic look at the ripple effect of both topics, it maintains a warmth and endearing nature that offsets the potential darkness and fills it with life. Esther and Lucy and even Vinnie and Sam help provide this levity and warmth, but Maggie and Edith find their own as well. I have mixed feelings about the ending – on one level, it left me dissatisfied as an invested reader, but on another level it also seemed rather fitting.

Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that there is some foul language in this book.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.)

See my full review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Profile Image for Mayda.
2,971 reviews57 followers
April 28, 2018
Maggie inherits a house from a former friend, but it comes with a price: she must also take care of her friend’s elderly mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. So Maggie finds herself caring for her own rambunctious two-year-old and a cantankerous eighty-two year old, a virtual stranger. The author does a very good job of bringing these characters to life as they deal with numerous problems. The everyday stress of being a single mom is compounded by the stress of health issues of the elderly. Add in some past secrets in the lives of both these women, and you a recipe for a thought-provoking as well as entertaining read.
Profile Image for Katy.
291 reviews
October 24, 2021
Despite the backdrop of some heavy topics, depression and suicide, aging and Alzheimer’s, this story was a delightful read.

The characters were charming, mostly, and certainly otherwise likable. The story circulates around Maggie adapting to a new location, a lifestyle, while engaging with new personalities after she unexpectedly inherits a beach house in Sag Harbor from a friend with whom she has some years previously had a falling out. The only caveat is that the lovely beach house and its enchanting location and lifestyle comes with her friend’s elderly mother who is experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Maggie and her two and a half year old precocious daughter aren’t sure they are up for the challenge, but find that it is an opportunity to discover many things about life, about themselves, about love, forgiveness, and relationships.

Although the story is often light hearted and humorous, the heavy topics of depression and Alzheimer’s are really glossed over. They are referred to but discussed on only a cursory level. Perhaps the author intended only to make you consider how these fragilities of life, while creating challenges can be an avenue to draw you into unexpected but rewarding relationships. In any event, it is certainly food for further thought or discussion.

Regardless, the story was enjoyable and leaves space for you to imagine where it goes beyond the author’s imagination while still providing an appropriate conclusion.

A good story to generate much group discussion! I will read more by this author.

3.5 stars rounded up to 4
Profile Image for Kristi.
428 reviews11 followers
October 28, 2018
Interesting characters and I like the premise of characters working through issues like Alzheimer's, but I didn't feel that ending brought me anywhere. I felt as though it just sort of ended, albeit in a more settled place in the story.

I'm hoping the discussion for book club will improve my perspective on this book.
Profile Image for Sarah.
13 reviews
October 25, 2018
Entertaining, fairly shallow story; I really liked Edith and Esther, the 80-something pair of friends. I found Lucy's (2 year old) dialogue to be out of alignment with how my toddler girls spoke at that age. After the first couple of instances, it really seemed unrealistic.

One other annoyance relating to Lucy was how her mom, Maggie, would give lip service to making good parenting decisions and then completely cave - for example: give in the buy the toy to quiet Lucy rather than allowing her to cry it out and causing embarrassment by having a temper tantrum in public.

I initially thought this was a three-star book but as I write this, two stars seems like a better fit.
Profile Image for Sharon Huether.
1,458 reviews10 followers
May 26, 2021
Maggie Sheets was a hard working single mother ; cleaning the homes of the wealthy in New York.
A former employer dies and leaves Maggie a beautiful home in Sag Harbor. There is a catch. Edith the employers mother comes with the house. Edith has the beginnings of Alzheimer.

There is adjustments to be made, especially with Lucy , Maggie's two years old daughter and with Edith.
Their lives become transparent, each Maggie and Edith have skeletons in their closets.

I love how the the living transition has given Maggie patience.
Profile Image for DJ Sakata.
3,023 reviews1,741 followers
November 3, 2016
Favorite Quotes:

It was hard, this aging thing, especially since her body had once been as limber as a rubber band. She had been a dancer, when she was young; her body her instrument. Now it felt like an old car, with a faulty transmission.

Maggie's mother had been depressed; Maggie knew the drill. She, too, would disappear into the depths of her bed for a week or two, leaving her and her father to fend for themselves. 'Don't worry about your mother, she's on her period,' her father used to offer as explanation. For the longest time, until Maggie had started menstruating herself, she thought a period was a concrete object. Something her mother literally sat on.

If this is winning the lottery, I'm selling my ticket back. You, Edith, are no prize.

There's youth and then there are idiots like these... Look at those women, all their bits hanging out. There's no mystery anymore.

My Review:

Inheriting Edith was a beautifully written and well-balanced book that covered several heavy and relevant topics with a deft and sensitive hand. Despite the burden of the potentially maudlin subject matter, the narrative provided lively hits of humor and delightful insights and uncanny observations. The writing was stellar, alternating between amusing and heart-squeezing emotive. The characters were vividly drawn, endearingly flawed, and smartly written. They were also realistically selfish, rueful, and one hundred percent knowable. I was quickly drawn into their story as if I were a fellow conspirator to their creative process. The effect they ultimately had on each other stung my eyes and constricted my throat. Ms. Fishman's narrative superbly brought to life the distressing process of the awareness of losing one's memory to Alzheimer's with all the self-doubt, anxiety, uncertainty, vulnerability, and regrets that would accompany that dreaded diagnosis, as well as the warring fears and the desire to grab on to the last chance of rectifying past mistakes and alleviate some of those life-long regrets while there was still time. And all of that was smoothly woven into an entertaining and engaging story with unexpected twists and revelations. Zoe Fishman is highly skilled, sly, and crafty. She is also my new favorite.
Profile Image for Margaret.
983 reviews6 followers
August 16, 2021
More of a 2.5 stars book but I was feeling a bit generous. I demand several things from the books that I read. A good focus, believable and relatable characters, an underlying message (part of that focus) and a thoughtful approach. There are probably more on that list that will come to me later. This book was kind of hitting the marks except for the main character being relatable. I am getting very picky in my latter years l don't know.
Profile Image for Janice.
1,386 reviews39 followers
March 3, 2018
This book as an easy and fast read, 3.5 stars rounded up to 4, for me.
Maggie is a college educated housekeeper; she has found it more lucrative, and less stressful, to make her living cleaning the homes of wealthy clients, rather than work at a white collar job in an office. When a wealthy client dies and leaves Maggie her beach side home, Maggie, a single parent, and her toddler daughter move into that home. But with the home comes a big responsibility, and not just those of a home owner. Maggie is also given charge of the clients elderly mother, recently diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's. Maggie has little experience with dementia, but has to begin learning quickly.
Edith, the patient, is at times still quite lucid, charming and gentile; she eventually shares with Maggie a long buried secret about her own early life, and enlists Maggie's help in finding some resolution to a past decision, before her memory is gone, and it is too late.. But at other times Edith doesn't remember who Maggie is, why she is in her house, or where her deceased daughter has gone off to. When she begins to wander from the house, and puts Maggie's young daughter in jeopardy, Maggie is terrified. There is also a little bit of romance thrown into the mix, and other characters who are equally engaging.
I liked all the characters, and the story was sweet, both sad and joyful.

This book meets the challenge is A Book for All Seasons, Topic #4, with a title or author, beginning with the letter Q,X, or Z.
Profile Image for Racheli Zusiman.
1,413 reviews47 followers
August 15, 2021
מגי היא אם חד הורית שעובדת בניקוי בתים, למרות שיש לה תואר בספרות. מעסיקתה וחברתה לשעבר, לייזה, סופרת מפורסמת, מתה ומורישה לה בהפתעה את ביתה בעיירת נופש במדינת ניו יורק, למרות שהיה ביניהן נתק של ארבע שנים. בבית גרה אימה של לייזה, אידית, אישה בת 82 שנמצאת בשלבים המוקדמים של מחלת האלצהיימר, ואם מגי רוצה את הבית, היא צריכה לעבור לגור איתה. מערכת היחסים ביניהן לא מתחילה כל כך טוב, אבל בהמשך הן מתיידדות ועוזרות אחת לשנייה להתגבר על פצעים פתוחים וסודות מן העבר.
ספר ממש מקסים. לא רציתי שייגמר (גם הסוף שלו נכתב בצורה קצת חפוזה לדעתי)... ומצד שני טוב שנגמר איך שנגמר ולא צלל למחוזות הקיטש. מומלץ.
Profile Image for Vickie.
1,324 reviews4 followers
March 7, 2017
I just finished Inheriting Edith by Zoe Fishman and I absolutely loved it!! Maggie and her two-year-old daughter Lucy are bequeathed a house on Sag Harbor with one huge caveat: Edith, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's comes with the home. Edith is an 82-year-old woman whose daughter, Liza, committed suicide. Liza and Maggie had been friends. This is just a beautiful story of multi-generational women all striving to make the best of their lives and the situations that have been granted to them. There are several back stories that are heart-breaking but all in all this is a wonderful story.

Go Cards! L1C4!!
Profile Image for Kristy.
1,006 reviews142 followers
October 18, 2016
Maggie falls into a job housecleaning as a way to pay the bills. A college graduate, her work at a publishing firm barely lets her eke by. But she finds comfort in cleaning, even if it might not be the most glamorous trade in the world. Still, as a single mom, she's not exactly wealthy. So when a former employer and friend, Liza, passes away and leaves Maggie a home in a beach town, Sag Harbor, she's amazed. The only catch? Maggie must stay in the house with Liza's elderly mother, Edith, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She's also a feisty, opinionated woman who is reeling from the loss of her only daughter. Neither Maggie nor Edith are too happy with this arrangement, but Maggie moves in with two-year-old Lucy in town. Slowly the two woman learn more about each other-- and their past.

This is an interesting little novel. The characters within are enjoyable and endearing. I took to Maggie immediately, as well as her sweet daughter. Even prickly Edith is one to root for. The supporting cast, particularly Edith's friend, Esther, are lovely. Still, somehow, the novel felt a little flat to me. As if it was trying too hard, or conversely, not enough. The book was good, but felt a little predictable, and the plot seemed to just barely scrape at the surface of the hard issues it dealt with: depression, Alzheimer's, adoption. It seemed like there could have been so much more depth of feeling and intensity shown in dealing with these hard subjects. I kept thinking back on one of my all-time favorite books, Elizabeth Is Missing, which is just this gorgeous, heartfelt story of a woman struggling with Alzheimer's and the daughter caring for her. In that novel, you could truly feel the pain of the characters. Here, they just sort of slide through, as if all these real problems can't truly touch them.

Still, it was a fun book, and as I said, the characters are endearing and often humorous at times. There is a lot of backstory that goes into Edith's early life, which is interesting, even if some of it becomes a tad farfetched. I'm glad I read it, but I wish it would have done more with its serious subjects and its lovely little cast. 3.5 stars.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Librarything - thank you! It is available everywhere as of 10/18/2016.
Profile Image for Sandee.
880 reviews49 followers
December 31, 2016
Sometimes when your looking for a book to read, one will just jump out at you, and you read a little about it and it grabs you instantly. This is the one my eyes focused on, and I could not put it down.
A lovely story of a single mom with a young daughter, who inherits a beach house, along with the benefactor's Mother, who is in the beginnings of Alzheimer's. Its a story of loss, secrets, and letting go of things and learning about life in general. I loved this book and everything about it.

From Amazon:
A poignant breakout novel, for fans of J. Courtney Sullivan and Elin Hilderbrand, about a single mother who inherits a beautiful beach house with a caveat—she must take care of the ornery elderly woman who lives in it.

For years, Maggie Sheets has been an invisible hand in the glittering homes of wealthy New York City clients, scrubbing, dusting, mopping, and doing all she can to keep her head above water as a single mother. Everything changes when a former employer dies leaving Maggie a staggering inheritance. A house in Sag Harbor. The catch? It comes with an inhabitant: The deceased’s eighty-two-year old mother Edith.

Edith has Alzheimer’s—or so the doctors tell her—but she remembers exactly how her daughter Liza could light up a room, or bring dark clouds in her wake. And now Liza’s gone, by her own hand, and Edith has been left—like a chaise or strand of pearls—to a poorly dressed young woman with a toddler in tow.

Maggie and Edith are both certain this arrangement will be an utter disaster. But as summer days wane, a tenuous bond forms, and Edith, who feels the urgency of her diagnosis, shares a secret that she’s held close for five decades, launching Maggie on a mission that might just lead them each to what they are looking for.
September 1, 2020
3.5 stars
Inheriting Edith is an endearing novel about the true meaning of family and friendship and the exploration of the freedom in forgiveness. Maggie and Edith are both well-drawn characters with quirks and deeper motivations that come out when they dare to be vulnerable. The good and bad points of the characters make them seem like real, relatable people. The ending is not completely satisfying, and some readers might not care for its open-ended concept. Overall, it is a tale steeped in nuance and love sure to warm readers' hearts.
Maggie Sheets cleans houses for a living while raising her 2-year-old daughter Lucy. Maggie is shocked to discover that a former employer and friend, Liza, has committed suicide and left Maggie her home in Sag Harbor. The house comes complete with stipend and everything needed to live —including Liza's elderly mother Edith, who has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Edith still has her wits about her and is beyond annoyed with Liza and the terms of the inheritance. However, when Edith is injured, she has to learn how to rely on Maggie and the two form a tentative friendship that develops into more.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
645 reviews57 followers
April 28, 2018
This was an interesting book with vivid characters. The chapters are told in alternating perspectives from Maggie and Edith, two women whose lives are turned upside down by Liza's suicide. As they learn to trust each other, secrets are revealed and friendships forged. I kept turning pages until the end, and I certainly enjoyed the journey. I liked the in-depth look at the different characters—they feel nuanced and very real. I also like this book's approach to mental illness and Alzheimer's disease; they are real problems with no easy solutions, and this book was brave enough to acknowledge their complexities. A story of death, life, and hope.
Profile Image for Hannah Rosenthal.
175 reviews3 followers
February 10, 2021
Written well. Loved the characters abd relationships.
Love Cassandra Campbel story telling. A great debut.
Profile Image for Cathy.
487 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2022
I miss the characters in this book. Partially because I really liked them, but also I think because there were so many loose threads at the end. More than some books, I feel like this story just stopped. What about Sam? What about Liza? And I was beyond frustrated with the Lucy who vacillated between the toddler she was and an adult that she wasn't. I mean, some of the sentences she came up with -- seriously? Still, as someone whose mother is currently in a stage similar to Edith's, I appreciated most of the story.
Profile Image for Luanne Ollivier.
1,649 reviews85 followers
December 19, 2016
3.5 Inheriting Edith is Zoe Fishman's latest book.

Maggie is a single mom who has been working as a house cleaner. One of her clients is a well known author, who treats her well. But when Liza kills herself, Maggie is stunned to find out that she has been left a house in Sag Harbor - complete with the author's eighty year old mother Edith - who has Alzheimer's.

This reader was immediately engaged with Fishman's characters. I think each reader will have a favorite character, based on their stage of life. Maggie is a pull no punches woman, struggling to do her best by her little daughter, who has a voice in the story as well. (Some of her dialogue is a bit advanced for the age of the child, but out of the mouth of babes...) Edith is the character who spoke to me the most. Her struggle with memory, everyday living and putting the past right struck close to home for me. I thought Fishman did a great job portraying the everyday issues that come with Alzheimer's - from both Edith and Maggie's viewpoint. I did find Edith's friend Lillian a bit overdrawn and over the top.

There aren't a lot of surprises in Inheriting Edith - this type of story has been written before. But Fishman's premise was unique and I found her exploration of motherhood, friendship, grief, aging, illness, self discovery and yes, love, to be thoughtful. I think book clubs would enjoy this novel.

If you're in the mood for a heart string tugging tale, consider Inheriting Edith.
Profile Image for Mahoghani 23.
1,070 reviews
April 13, 2019
A poignant story that gives you insights into both of the main characters emotions, feelings, beliefs, and thoughts. The storyline is funny and riveting. It takes you deep into the heart of the the emotion the author is portraying. The enjoyment and laughter I got from this book makes me want to read it again.

The descriptions are on point. The characters are open, emotional, and aware of what's going on in their lives. It deals with changes and taking chances in life that will lead you on your journey to open your eyes and mind, clear frustrating thoughts, & resolve issues.
154 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2018
It took a bit for me to get into this book. I really didn't connect with Maggie until she went to live with Edith. Maggie as a character felt pretty flat to me as did her daughter Lucy. I did like Edith and her friend Esther (who I would say was my personal favorite).

As a story, it had potential but just didn't quite get there. Just when the relationship starts to blossom between Maggie and Edith, the story ends, leaving me feeling unfulfilled. Both Maggie and Edith have pasts that they have been grappling with and their coming together ultimately helps each of them heal but the author doesn't give us enough time to invest ourselves in that relationship. I would have liked to have had more glimpses of Edith's Alzheimer's and how Maggie dealt with it.
Profile Image for Ellen.
1,701 reviews7 followers
August 29, 2016

A wonderful story, starting with a tragedy but handled with grace. Two women learn about each other leading to understanding their lives. Maggie cleans houses, and we learn why a college grad ends up with this job. Liza, a famous author, leaves Maggie her Sag Harbor house with the caveat she cares for Edith, her elderly mom with early stage Alzheimer's. A unique and heartwarming story.
Profile Image for Donna.
1,345 reviews7 followers
September 13, 2017
The premise was promising: a single mother of a 2 yr old is left a beautiful house in Sag Harbor. The only catch is that she also inherits the occupant: an 82 yr old woman with Alzheimer's. Fisherman is not an accomplished writer. Her dialog was tedious, especially when the 2-1/2 yr old spoke. It's obvious that Fishman hasn't been around young children! Totally unbelievable.
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