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The Pleasure Was Mine

Tommy Hays

St. Martin's Press

Prate Marshbanks proposed to his future wife on a muggy July night at Pete's Drive-in back in '52. "She said yes to me between bites of a slaw burger all-the-way." A college graduate and daughter of a prominent lawyer, Irene was an unlikely match for Prate, a high school dropout. He lived his married life aware of the question on people's minds: How in the world did a tall, thin, fair-skinned beauty and one of the most respected high school English teachers in all of Greenville County, in all of South Carolina for that matter, wind up married to a short, dark, fat-faced, jug-eared house painter? That their marriage not only survived for fifty years, but flourished, is a source of constant wonder to Prate. Now he faces a new challenge with Irene.

From the author of In The Family Way, a novel the Atlanta Constitution called "an instant classic" and the Charlotte Observer praised as "a lovely, moving book," comes a powerful story of hard-earned hope. The Pleasure Was Mine takes place during a critical summer in the life of Prate Marshbanks, when he retires to care for his wife, who is gradually slipping away. To complicate things, Prate's son, Newell, a recently widowed single father, asks Prate to keep nine-year-old Jackson for the summer. Though Prate is irritated by the presence of his moody grandson, during the summer Jackson helps tend his grandmother, and grandfather and grandson form a bond. As Irene's memory fades, Prate, a hardworking man who has kept to himself most of his life, has little choice but to get to know his family.

With elegance and skillful economy of language, Tommy Hays renders an unforgettable character in Prate Marshbanks. The Pleasure Was Mine is at once a quietly wrenching portrayal of grief, a magical and romantic story about the power of love, and an unexpectedly moving take on the resilience of family.

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My wife has gone. I can’t say that I blame her. After fifty years, Irene had probably had enough of keeping up my end of the conversation with family and friends, while I slipped outside to weed the garden or drove over to Pete’s for a piece of pie and a cup of coffee and talk that didn’t send my blood pressure through the roof.

She had probably had enough of my temper, my dark moods, my foul mouth, my all-around disagreeable self. She had probably had enough of me coming home reeking of turpentine and flecked from head to toe with latex or enamel. She had probably had

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REVIEWS

Praise for The Pleasure Was Mine

"...Hays beautifully captures a husband's grief as he watches his beloved wife slip into Alzheimer's. ...Colloquial in tone, braced by its narrator's stoic, plainspoken candor, Hays's latest outing feels timely and true. ...An intimate, loving portrait of a dreaded disease's devastating effects."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"...Hays beautifully captures a husband's grief as he watches his beloved wife slip into Alzheimer's. ...Colloquial in tone, braced by its narrator's stoic, plainspoken candor, Hays's latest outing feels timely and true. ...An intimate, loving portrait of a dreaded disease's devastating effects."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Tommy Hays

  • Tommy Hays is executive director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and creative writing chair for the Academy at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities. His novel In The Family Way received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award in 2000 and was a choice of the Book-of-the-Month Club. He is a graduate of Furman University and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with his wife and two children.
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The Pleasure Was Mine

Tommy Hays

SIBA Book Award - Finalist
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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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