The Best of Us
In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn't mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the nineteen months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple--to be a true partner and to have one.This is their story. Charting the course through their whirlwind romance, a marriage cut short by tragedy, and Joyce's return to singleness on new terms, The Best of Us is a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss.

The Best of Us Details

TitleThe Best of Us
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 5th, 2017
PublisherBloomsbury USA
ISBN-139781635570342
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography, Biography Memoir, Audiobook, Medical, Abandoned, Death

The Best of Us Review

  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very difficult review for me to write. I really love Joyce .....and I'm still very sad for Joyce's loss. I was sooo happy for her when she married Jim!!! Jim died of pancreatic cancer. When Bloomsbury sent me Joyce's book from Netgalley the other day -- It was unexpected. -- ( but 'many' thanks) --I had no idea Joyce's book was going on Netgalley. I made a donation to the Cancer Society months ago - in honor of Jim ( and Joyce), ... and pre-paid for this Hardcopy book -- which will arr This is a very difficult review for me to write. I really love Joyce .....and I'm still very sad for Joyce's loss. I was sooo happy for her when she married Jim!!! Jim died of pancreatic cancer. When Bloomsbury sent me Joyce's book from Netgalley the other day -- It was unexpected. -- ( but 'many' thanks) --I had no idea Joyce's book was going on Netgalley. I made a donation to the Cancer Society months ago - in honor of Jim ( and Joyce), ... and pre-paid for this Hardcopy book -- which will arrive in the mail soon. I also plan to listen to the audiobook....just so I can hear Joyce 'share'. She's an awesome woman!!!I've already shared this with Joyce -- but I'll share it here: I came to a place in reading "The Best of Us", when I completely lost it. I turned into a crying mushy pancake....I couldn't hold it together one more minute. I left my comfy chair - went to my room - and cried my eyes out on my bed. I don't even know what my thoughts were.....There was a part in this story where Joyce and Jim were in San Miguel, Mexico. "Jim woke up with a fever so violent that no blankets could warm". -- oh, and this was Valentines Day. Friends drove them to the emergency room. After getting different tests--Jim had some type of infection but the doctors said antibiotics would keep things under control. Joyce said -- they might have flown back to the San Francisco Bay area but Jim was feeling better and his daughter was coming for a visit whom he really wanted to see. Jim and his daughter Jane had an uneasy relationship for years -- but things have been good since Jim's diagnosis-- so he wanted to stay. AND HERE IS WHERE I LOST IT.... cried like a baby.... Joyce says: "I was happy about the visit too. Jane had asked if I'd bake pies for her wedding--and though the event was taking place 3000 miles from the kitchen from where I generally baked, and pie for 100 people was a lot of pie, her request seemed to signal good things in our relationship, so I told her yes". I continued to cry on and off ... mostly on.... for the last 30% of this book!!! ....visit Mill Valley, Oakland, Layfayette, Berkeley, New Hampshire, New York, Paris, Guatemala, San Miguel......Reading this book is both beautiful and sad. Joyce and Jim had a beautiful love relationship-- touching as can be!!! Joyce and Jim shared quiet nights at home - they traveled- they enjoyed music - concerts- his Boxster Porsche ( Joyce loved being the passenger), Jim was a great photographer and played guitar and was a lawyer. Joyce is an awesome free spirit in her thrifty clothes with down to earth sincerity and honesty! Joyce baked her famous pies- Jim had the Whipple surgery - chemotherapy - many hospital visits and doctors -- Joyce was the greatest honest and scared caretaker.She talks about a time when she shared - intensely- with her friends on Facebook about Jim's Cancer. Requests -- and shared her gut truth about all that was going on - including being a caretaker -- sometimes feeling sorry for herself too. I was one of those friends. The post and conversations were powerful. I wanted to salute Joyce for allowing herself to be vulnerable. Jim and Joyce moved into a gorgeous - peaceful - home in Hunsaker Canyon in Layfayette .... ( an area I love myself), shortly before Jim got Cancer. I'm sad they won't be able to carry through with the dreams they had. Family - kids - grandchildren- friends visiting them. The last concert Joyce and Jim went to together was at the outdoor Greek theater in Berkeley-- ( our favorite outdoor venue in the Bay Area-- love the intimacy). They saw Bob Dylan!!!! I was smiling and crying for them.
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  • Debbie
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. What an experience! This is the saddest true love story I’ve ever heard. This memoir is well-written and infused with emotion. It’s so vivid, I felt like I had a front-row seat. I couldn’t put it down—which is weird, given that the book is about a man dying of cancer. Not the most upbeat subject. The story is told by the writer Joyce Maynard, who, in her late 50s, found and married the love of her life, Jim, only to lose him to pancreatic cancer a couple of years later. This is a chronicle Wow. What an experience! This is the saddest true love story I’ve ever heard. This memoir is well-written and infused with emotion. It’s so vivid, I felt like I had a front-row seat. I couldn’t put it down—which is weird, given that the book is about a man dying of cancer. Not the most upbeat subject. The story is told by the writer Joyce Maynard, who, in her late 50s, found and married the love of her life, Jim, only to lose him to pancreatic cancer a couple of years later. This is a chronicle of their relationship—the wonderful Before diagnosis, and the devastating After.The tone is earnest, conversational, and full of tenderness, determination, and over-the-top energy. I shared the constant worries, the hopefulness they felt as little things appeared to get better, the devastation they felt as his condition grew worse.Both had been married and had grown kids. Neither one expected to find what they found. They pictured getting old together. Their story was so uplifting, so rich with love, I wanted it to go on forever. So did they. The book is large for a memoir, nearly 450 pages. The latter half of the book is about what happened after Jim’s diagnosis. I found myself tearing up when the diagnosis was given. I hardly ever cry when reading, so this just tells you how powerful a writer we have here. The first half of the memoir covers how they met and how they loved each other. Maynard paints a vivid picture of her loving man, and shows all his complexities. His expensive clothes and car would normally be a turn-off for me (anti-cool), but I learn again that appearances aren’t everything. He was so much more than he appeared to be. And the relationship was the closest to a good fairytale that I’ve ever seen. They lived the high life—great food, great trips, great friends, houses here and there. They had it all. Until.Maynard has an honest style, never glorifying her life and never ignoring her faults. There’s one choice she made prior to meeting Jim that got a lot of negative press. Here, she was able to explain her decision in the hope, I’m sure, that people would understand why she did what she did and how it affected her. It’s a heartbreaker of a story. This event was secondary, of course, to the story of their marriage and Jim’s illness, but I’m glad she included it. She also included a well-told story about Jim’s pro bono work (where Maynard acted as his assistant) to help an African student who was getting a raw deal, and Jim’s work just endeared him to me even more.Really, there is a third being in this memoir—and a true villain: Pancreatic cancer. Mean. Devastating. Relentless. Evil. Unstoppable. Taking over, taking more. Stripping people of strength and dignity. And in this case, the villain won, killing its victim. Oh what an ordeal, oh what a struggle they had. Fighting the disease was Maynard’s full-time job. She had notebooks full of doctors’ names, support groups, clinical trials, medicines, treatments, herbs, food. She never let up; she seemed to have endless energy.Jim seemed to do way more than I would have thought possible. He climbed mountains, he kept driving, he went across the country numerous times, and even went to other countries—sometimes in the midst of chemo. I can’t imagine traveling when he was getting so weak. But both of them held onto hope, and they wanted to live life to its fullest as long as he could. Days before he died, they went to a Dylan concert. His bravery and determination to get to the concert, combined with the care that Maynard and the nurse’s station gave him, just turned my heart inside out.You hear about how terminal cancer patients try everything, and Joyce and Jim did. She talked about the questions that everyone in their shoes have. If we had done this earlier, if we had gone to this doctor first, if he hadn’t had a complicated surgery, if he had maintained a strict diet—could any of these things have saved, or at least prolonged, his life? This book called to mind Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, a wonderful non-fiction book on illness and death. Keeping hope alive was super important to them. It was only in the last month or so that they realized they would not win the battle. Their acceptance of his imminent death was gentle and touching. Joyce felt like all they went through together brought out the best in her.One thing I struggled with was the realization that this couple had the financial means to try every single thing possible. They could fly coast-to-coast to see the best doctors in the field. They could afford super expensive treatments that insurance didn’t cover. A couple of times Maynard did say that their finances weren’t great, but I still saw that they had the privilege of trying everything possible. I couldn’t help but think of those who could not afford to “try everything,” to shop for doctors country-wide, to pay for exorbitant experimental treatments, to pay for places to stay in far-away cities. What it does drive home, though, is that money can’t kill cancer, no matter how much you throw at it.I read one of Maynard’s novels, called Under the Influence, in 2016. It was a 4-star read. For some reason I decided to visit her Facebook page at that time, and there I found a current chronicle about her days with Jim, who had just died. It was so very powerful, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. That’s why I was looking forward to this memoir. I have been meaning to read her earlier memoir about her relationship (when she was a teen) with the author J. D. Salinger. I need to read it sooner now, as Maynard’s life fascinates me. I also plan to read all of her novels. An amazing memoir, one that I am recommending highly. I think that people in the midst of caring for a terminally ill loved one might find it cathartic and informative. The only people I wouldn’t recommend this book to are those who have found (major-illness-free) love late in life. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
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  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!”Let us be lovers, We’ll marry our fortunes together. I’ve got some real estate Here in my bag.””So we bought a pack of cigarettes, And Mrs. Wagner pies And walked off To look for America.” “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, words by Paul SimonI began the year reading Joyce Maynard’s “Under the Influence” and years before that, I read “Labor Day,” which later became a movie. I have not read her 1998 memoir “At Home in the World” – yet. There’s vulnerability apparent in he !! NOW AVAILABLE !!”Let us be lovers, We’ll marry our fortunes together. I’ve got some real estate Here in my bag.””So we bought a pack of cigarettes, And Mrs. Wagner pies And walked off To look for America.” “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, words by Paul SimonI began the year reading Joyce Maynard’s “Under the Influence” and years before that, I read “Labor Day,” which later became a movie. I have not read her 1998 memoir “At Home in the World” – yet. There’s vulnerability apparent in her writing, underneath the self-protecting armor she’s wrapped around herself. She’d been divorced for twenty-five years, children more or less grown. And then, one day Jim walks into her life, and after a period of time he manages to convince he’s really “the one.” It wasn’t an easy task.”On the Fourth of July weekend three years ago, at the age of fifty-nine, I married the first true partner I had ever known. “This memoir is the story of their love, of this man who cherished her, who taught her so much about herself, her capacity to love, her willingness to give of herself, but also her determination to keep a portion of herself to herself. Some might see this as a fight to retain her own identity, but I felt it was more of an acclimation, a gradual allowing herself to fall into believing in this new land of Love.”Not long after our one-year anniversary, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”This is lovely, but heartbreaking. Sad, but life affirming, and love affirming, as well. During the time they were pursuing various medical avenues for treatment, their love was tested, and strengthened. There were moments they each undoubtedly had when throwing in the towel might have tempted either one, but when she was weak, he was strong. And then, as time passed, more and more often it was her turn to be the strong one. This is an incredibly poignant memoir, with many shared moments of the times they spent driving around in various cars, listening to music, meeting new people – a parking valet who would remember them years later after a simple, if generous gift they bestowed upon him. People they never met in person, but befriended who were in similar circumstances, wives needing to share their sorrows watching the man they love deteriorate, trying to do all, be all for everyone. This isn’t a fun story, although there are sweet, fun, funny moments mentioned in their years spent together, moments of great joy, but there are also moments of despair, frustration, anger at the world, or no one in particular at the unfairness of it all. Life. The thing that makes this hard to read, and also makes this so beautiful, is Joyce Maynard’s willingness to bare her soul to show others that they are not alone. To know that someone else out there has been through this feeling, and is willing to put it out there for the world to read, to judge, and as much as some of those judgmental words have hurt her in the past, she’s doing it again. Just so someone else won’t have to feel so alone, so someone else will feel known and understood. Isn’t that what we all want, when it comes down to it? ”So I looked at the scenery, She read her magazine; And the moon rose over an open field. ‘Kathy, I’m lost,’ I said, Though I knew she was sleeping, ‘I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.’” “America” by Simon & Garfunkel, words by Paul SimonRecommendedPub Date: 05 Sep 2017Many thanks for the ARC provided to Bloomsbury
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    It is only fairly recently that I have begun reading memoirs or biographies written by author whose book I love to read. I am amazed at the insight this provides when I next read their books, makes ten more meaningful in a way. This book is a wonderful, if heartbreaking, homage to a man she met and married late in her life, a man she had for too short a time.She allows the reader into the most personal of thoughts, actions, mistakes, regrets and joys in her life. It is searingly honest, if a tim It is only fairly recently that I have begun reading memoirs or biographies written by author whose book I love to read. I am amazed at the insight this provides when I next read their books, makes ten more meaningful in a way. This book is a wonderful, if heartbreaking, homage to a man she met and married late in her life, a man she had for too short a time.She allows the reader into the most personal of thoughts, actions, mistakes, regrets and joys in her life. It is searingly honest, if a times uncomfortably sentimental. It is both hard to read and a joy to read. It covers her first marriage and divorce, her children and other everyday things in her life. Her publishing career, the trips she made, her dating experiences, and her hopes and goals in her life.Her husband's cancer, treatments, how they struggled to make each day meaningful. So at times it is difficult to read as you can imagine, but it ends with love and hope. I can only wish her well, with a great deal of admiration and respect.ARC from NetgalleyPublishes September 5th by Bloomsbury.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    If you have read anything at all about The Best of US you’ll know that Joyce Maynard finds the love of her life after being single twenty plus years after a divorce. Loving and marrying Jim was the best thing that could happen to them both. From the prologue”On the Fourth of July weekend three years ago, at the age of fifty-nine, I married the first true partner I had ever known.””Not long after our one-year anniversary, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.””Not until we learned of h If you have read anything at all about The Best of US you’ll know that Joyce Maynard finds the love of her life after being single twenty plus years after a divorce. Loving and marrying Jim was the best thing that could happen to them both. From the prologue”On the Fourth of July weekend three years ago, at the age of fifty-nine, I married the first true partner I had ever known.””Not long after our one-year anniversary, my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.””Not until we learned of his illness, and we walked the path of that terrible struggle together, did I understand what it meant to be a couple—to be a true partner and to have one. I learned the full meaning of marriage only as mine was drawing to a close. I discovered what love was as mine departed the world.This is our story.”Dedication - For JimThe Best of US is as much for Joyce as it is for Jim. That she shares this deeply personal journey with us makes it for US too. This is a story that could have become mired in the tragedy easily losing the beauty of their partnership and love. Of course there is sadness here, the heart-wrenching kind and if you're like me there will be tears shed, but there is also so much about life, living and loving. So many marked passages, bright orange flags peeking out of my copy, these attesting to the joy Joyce and Jim shared in their marriage. Thank you both, Joyce and Jim for reminding me what marriage is and to take each day with my husband as the gift it is.
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    Joyce Maynard's memoir of her husband's battle with pancreatic cancer hit awfully close to home. My father died of pancreatic cancer close to eight years ago. It's a particularly nasty cancer because it is almost always a death sentence, and it can move brutally fast. I have vivid memories of my father through different stages of his illness, which in his case lasted relatively long -- two years. Thankfully, by now, when I think of my father I don't tend to think about his illness but rather I r Joyce Maynard's memoir of her husband's battle with pancreatic cancer hit awfully close to home. My father died of pancreatic cancer close to eight years ago. It's a particularly nasty cancer because it is almost always a death sentence, and it can move brutally fast. I have vivid memories of my father through different stages of his illness, which in his case lasted relatively long -- two years. Thankfully, by now, when I think of my father I don't tend to think about his illness but rather I remember him as a person. But The Best of Us brought me back to the last two years of his life. Those were terrible times in many ways, but they are also an important part of my relationship with my father and my own life journey. I couldn't have read Maynard's book a few years ago, but with some distance I was able to read it and to get a lot from it. Maynard and her husband Jim's journey felt so familiar. Not the specific medical procedures he went through, but the mental and emotional roadmap they traveled. The gut punch of the diagnosis, the hopeless hope that drove them to endlessly quest for a cure, the brutal relentless sickness, the bittersweet mental shift and odd peacefulness that comes with accepting that there will be no miracle cure, the starkness of the last few days and the grief that keeps creeping up unexpectedly. It's such a common but deeply personal experience. It was somehow helpful to read Maynard recount her experience. When Maynard describes her early life, and the road that led her to Jim in her late 50s, I suspect that we wouldn't have had much in common at that time. But if I met her now, I feel that there is so much we would have to share.This is not a book for everyone. It gets quite detailed at times. But I know that it will speak to many. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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  • PorshaJo
    January 1, 1970
    I love to read...eh, listen to books by Joyce Maynard. I find them so comforting and so far have listened to the narrations of each of the books that I've read by her. But this one, I was on the fence about starting. I knew what it was about. I knew it was going to be rough. But I had to find the right time to listen to it. My father inlaw died of pancreatic cancer and I was not sure if I wanted to revisit the memories by listening to this. Eventually, I decided to pick it up and I'm so glad I d I love to read...eh, listen to books by Joyce Maynard. I find them so comforting and so far have listened to the narrations of each of the books that I've read by her. But this one, I was on the fence about starting. I knew what it was about. I knew it was going to be rough. But I had to find the right time to listen to it. My father inlaw died of pancreatic cancer and I was not sure if I wanted to revisit the memories by listening to this. Eventually, I decided to pick it up and I'm so glad I did.The Best of Us is the utterly heartbreaking story of how Joyce Maynard met the love of her life and after a very short period of marriage...watched him die a slow, painful death by such a horrible disease, pancreatic cancer. I again ordered the audio, but would always turn it off when my husband was around. I did not know what the book would discuss and did not know if he was ready for a story like this. I felt that I sat down with Joyce and she was telling me this very personal, lovely, tragic story. Joyce is a free spirit, travelling a lot, shopping at thrift stores for clothes (I love that) and what she wants most of all is to be loved, truly and deeply loved. And she finds that in her opposite, Jim, who is more reserved, a snappy dresser, and her rock. You learn of how they met, their back stories, and for that short period where they lived in bliss. Then it all came crashing down and their lives were lived in hospitals, or in a fog of surgeries, or drugs. I felt for Joyce, she is an incredibly strong woman to live through this and be able to tell this very personal story. At times, you may judge her and her decisions. But you just DON'T KNOW or understand until you are in the same situation. I even thought a few times, why travel when Jim is is so sick. But if he only had so much time left, would you want to just give up? My father in-law did the same thing. And after awhile we realized, that was what he wanted.I am very glad I read this one. Yes, it was difficult to listen to. Yes, I had to choke back tears a few times. Yes, I was in a down mood when I finished. Yes, I would like to meet Joyce and talk to her and give her a big hug. Yes, I would tell anyone to read this book. And yes....I have her first memoir in my hands ready to start. Only downfall....it's print. Ha! But I'm sure I'll love it too.
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  • Cathrine ☯️
    January 1, 1970
    4➕★I did not ponder much whether a memoir about a beloved husband’s battle with pancreatic cancer and its inevitable outcome was a book topic I wanted to embrace. Generally speaking, who would?The author and I are close in age and I’m a fan of her writing. There was much to relate to as we share many personality traits and quirks. Up to the half way mark I enjoyed the narrative chronicling life before Jim, and then how they met and married.But then comes the diagnosis and treatment decisions and 4➕★I did not ponder much whether a memoir about a beloved husband’s battle with pancreatic cancer and its inevitable outcome was a book topic I wanted to embrace. Generally speaking, who would?The author and I are close in age and I’m a fan of her writing. There was much to relate to as we share many personality traits and quirks. Up to the half way mark I enjoyed the narrative chronicling life before Jim, and then how they met and married.But then comes the diagnosis and treatment decisions and challenges. It’s brutal at times and heartbreaking, yet life-affirming at the same time.At the point she mentions Atul Gawande’s essay Letting Go, I was recalling his excellent book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Although at its core The Best of Us: A Memoir is a love story, it’s also a glimpse into an end many of us will have to face for ourselves or with someone we cherish. Perhaps there is a Jim or Joyce in your life walking this lonesome journey and you need to know what they are up against. Maybe you’re a Joyce and sharing her journey to the other side would lessen the sense of isolation that comes with so much devastation and loss. Could be you’re wasting precious time and need a wake up call.She remembers “the days when we had all the time in the world” and writes if only we could “learn the lessons of cancer without having cancer.” This homage to a most courageous man and his choices and battles while living with dying might be a catalyst to take those lessons to heart and push beyond personal barriers. They loved to travel and had many plans to go places that were never realized. Near story’s end I broke down one of my own walls and purchased airline tickets to escape to somewhere I’ve never been before. Jim and Joyce will be in my thoughts when I get there. Perhaps, with gratitude in my heart, I’ll write their initials at some secret location. For now I’m going to go tell my husband how much I love him and that he should buy that guitar he’s been lusting after.Thank you Joyce Maynard, NetGalley, & Bloomsbury publishing for this ARC which will be available Sept. 5, 2017
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  • JanB
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir is a later-in-life love story between Joyce and Jim, who passed away last year. Joyce writes honestly and beautifully - I love her 'voice". Her story is full of a passion and zest for life, with hard-won wisdom about what a partnership really means. By the end I felt I knew Joyce and Jim and I cried at her loss. Joyce found Jim, her soul-mate, in her late 50's, after being alone for 25 years. They married, and were dealt a devastating diagnosis after only a year of marriage. As with This memoir is a later-in-life love story between Joyce and Jim, who passed away last year. Joyce writes honestly and beautifully - I love her 'voice". Her story is full of a passion and zest for life, with hard-won wisdom about what a partnership really means. By the end I felt I knew Joyce and Jim and I cried at her loss. Joyce found Jim, her soul-mate, in her late 50's, after being alone for 25 years. They married, and were dealt a devastating diagnosis after only a year of marriage. As with any love story, there are highs and lows, moments that are flattering and not-so-flattering. Joyce tells it like it is, she speaks the truth and doesn't spare herself. It's a portrait of a marriage between two imperfect people who adored each other, and reinforces the hope that's its never too late. Unfortunately, its also a story of navigating the reality of pancreatic cancer, with the physical and emotional toll on both patient and caregiver. The denial, the false hope, the endless hours of research, the selective hearing of patients and loved ones, and the trips to the top surgeons and oncologists - plus the fraudulent unnamed "Dr. Miracle". Joyce questions now if every decision was the wisest. The burden on the patient and family to navigate these choices when there are differing opinions among medical professionals is tough and hindsight is always 20/20. When is it time to say enough? Were the surgeries and treatments worth it? Are doctors 100% honest about the benefits/risks and the chance of success? But refusing treatment or surgery when you have that sliver of hope is tough....there are no easy answers when you're in the midst of making these choices. I do know if I had cancer I'd want Joyce to be my advocate - she is a force of nature and unstoppable.But this book isn't all about illness, it's also a joyful book about loving life and living with abandon and generosity of spirit. For those who aren't dealing with end of life issues (yet - we all will sooner or later.) the take-away is to embrace the moments and people in your life, take nothing for granted. Knowing what Joyce had with Jim made the loss even more heartbreaking. To find such love after so many years, only to have it snatched from you in such a cruel way.I read this cover to cover in one day and that's with spending 5 hours with my elderly mother. I'm not sure Joyce would approve not being totally present while reading on my iPhone app as mom considered her next Scrabble move - lol - but I couldn't tear myself away. I first read a novel by Maynard this past year, loved it, so quickly read a second. I then found her on FB and was touched by her heartfelt posts about her husband's illness and death. So when I received an e-mail from Netgalley I eagerly snapped it up. I am so glad I did.** thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review
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  • Jennifer Blankfein
    January 1, 1970
    Follow me for all reviews on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com.I highly recommend reading The Best of Us , just make sure you have a box of tissues. Joyce Maynard finds the love of her life in her 50s, many years after being divorced and raising her children as a single mother. She and Jim, her new love, had a wonderful connection and were enjoying life to the fullest. And then their future was shattered when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She stood by him, provided hope and contin Follow me for all reviews on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com.I highly recommend reading The Best of Us , just make sure you have a box of tissues. Joyce Maynard finds the love of her life in her 50s, many years after being divorced and raising her children as a single mother. She and Jim, her new love, had a wonderful connection and were enjoying life to the fullest. And then their future was shattered when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She stood by him, provided hope and continued to look for treatments and solutions until the end. Her love story is beautiful and devastating as she chronicles the time before she meets Jim, during their love affair and his battle with this devastating disease, and afterward when she must pick up the pieces. She talks about the years being divorced and on her own, how she was looking for connection and to feel that unconditional love, when she decided to adopt two girls from Ethiopia. Their relationships and interactions were not what she had expected, and after struggling to provide a good home and feel love from these girls, a little over a year later she chose to find them a different home and say goodbye. Then she met Jim and love blossomed. When he became ill she was his dedicated nurse and advocate. Her commitment to Jim is admirable and heartfelt, and with writing that is emotional and passionate she shares her personal journey.Joyce Maynard had been vilified in the media for giving up her adopted daughters and in her book she talks about their challenging family life which makes clear her reasons for placing the girls in a different family. I am supportive of her decision and appreciate her honesty and candor as she revealed details about the difficulties of this heartbreak. She is relentless with her unwavering support and love for Jim as he wins and loses small battles during the fight and ultimately loses the war to pancreatic cancer. I admire her strength and courage as she stays by his side to fight for more days together.Joyce Maynard has been through so many ups and downs in her life and she communicates her love, pain and everything in between through her life affirming experiences, written with great emotion and clarity in this beautiful memoir, The Best of Us. I highly recommend it.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    THE BEST OF US:: A MEMOIR by JOYCE MAYNARDSPOILER ALERTAs said in the Good Reads synopsis I will quote "THE BEST of US is a heart-wrenching, ultimately a life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss." I can wholeheartedly agree with that quote because I have experienced it before myself. I have read somewhere recently where someday in the future there is going to be a medical scan that will show the evidence of a broken heart. In this outstandi THE BEST OF US:: A MEMOIR by JOYCE MAYNARDSPOILER ALERTAs said in the Good Reads synopsis I will quote "THE BEST of US is a heart-wrenching, ultimately a life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss." I can wholeheartedly agree with that quote because I have experienced it before myself. I have read somewhere recently where someday in the future there is going to be a medical scan that will show the evidence of a broken heart. In this outstanding memoir of Joyce Maynard's first initial meeting with her husband Jim on Match.com through his last night on earth after a nineteen month battle with pancreatic cancer, I was touched by this memoir to the deepest part of my soul.Joyce says that no other story that she has ever told before has mattered to her more than this one. I myself was truly touched as I read as to how kind and brave Jim was and how much he truly loved Joyce and how much Joyce truly loved Jim. On July 4th weekend when Joyce was 59 years old she married Jim on a New Hampshire hillside surrounded with friends and family. This was to be the first time in both of their live's that they met their one and only true love partner."Remember this moment."Not too much time passed by since their first anniversary when Jim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My paternal grandfather, who I loved very much and was very much the Patriarch of the family got the same diagnosis. Things for my beloved grandfather went down hill very quickly. He died in a matter of a few month's of being diagnosed. Jim and Joyce fought Jim's cancer bravely and fiercely seeking out the best medical treatment with Joyce researching on both the East and West coast's from clinical trials to surgeons to people who had survived asking important questions so they could make informed decisions.But I am getting ahead of myself. I want to illuminate that before Joyce met Jim she had been single for twenty-five years, her children were all full grown off living their own lives and Joyce thought that she was through with marriage. After having a four and a half hour conversation over the phone with Jim where he talked about real things. He was honest with her about how it was for him growing up with an angry father. How he felt like a failure as a father because he left his wife and his kid's unfairly blamed him for getting out of a marriage that was destroying him. Jim was the most gentlest, kindest, supportive husband to Joyce.Joyce and Jim met to go out to dinner and he thought she was a more of a knock-out in real life than in her profile picture on Match.com. They both felt strongly that they shared something real about how important parenting to them was. Followed by more dates. Then Joyce announced that she would not have sexual relations with Jim for 30 days because she was impressed with how gamely he was keeping up with her at a yearly festival they went to. Jim slowly moved in but she only allowed him a box for his things and she had a house in Mill Valley and him in Oakland when they married after they sold both properties and bought their home at Hunsaker Canyon.It started with an endoscopy where the doctor told Joyce and Jim the devastating news that he had a tumor on his pancreas. "How does a person describe the moment her world ends? I felt it in my heart, a blow as real as a knifepoint going in. I thought I might throw up.""I'm so sorry," the doctor said. "My father died of this." The tumor appeared to be 2.5 centimeters in diameter. The good news was the cancer was known as "locally advanced," meaning it hadn't had a chance to spread to other organs, not yet. The horrendous news was that the tumor had wrapped itself around an important vein in Jim's pancreas."In addition to being pressed up against an artery, the term for this stage of cancer was 'Borderline respectable. This meant that the prospects for surgically removing the tumor would be slim. Without surgery, Jim was likely to die within a matter of months, A Year at the most, probably."After much agony on Joyce's part for it is her voice that is telling the story, all the research she did she and Jim first decided to go with a Dr. Miracle who was in southern California and treated Jim's condition with a drug none of the other doctors in the world were using. They tried that for three or four times at $6000.00 per infusion and then decided to get the whipple surgery which removes the tumor and took fourteen hours but Jim's quality of life was never the same.My thoughts on the book: Here you had two people who truly found what it meant to be a life partner only to sadly have it snatched away from them by cancer way too soon. The short time they had together they made each other really happy. They were both excellent parent's. They would have made great grandparents. They were both very gallant and brave and strong people to face what they did and still keep functioning so well, they are a true inspiration to me. Before Jim had the whipple and got diagnosed and had the terrible side effects of chemo they were both very spry and active and had a lot of adventure travelling, but not nearly enough in the least of what they both deserved. This book was sad but very well written and I think Joyce Maynard is a very talented, caring person who I hope finds some happiness in the future.Huge Thanks to Net Galley, Joyce Maynard may you find peace and light, Thank you to Bloomsbury publishing for my digital copy for a fair and honest review.
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    I first discovered Joyce Maynard when I picked up a copy of Under the Influence. I loved it right away and went over to her Facebook page to read more about the author only to discover her husband of less than three short years (19 months of it fighting cancer) was dying of pancreatic cancer. I followed the journey and was saddened to read he had died. From there I went on to listen to her read her book After Her. So when I saw her memoir about her life with Jim was released, I immediately downl I first discovered Joyce Maynard when I picked up a copy of Under the Influence. I loved it right away and went over to her Facebook page to read more about the author only to discover her husband of less than three short years (19 months of it fighting cancer) was dying of pancreatic cancer. I followed the journey and was saddened to read he had died. From there I went on to listen to her read her book After Her. So when I saw her memoir about her life with Jim was released, I immediately downloaded it and listen to Maynard read about their life and love in her own voice. This is such a heartbreaking story of finding true love late in life (well, close to my own age...so not too old!) only to discover all of your dreams and plans would soon come to an end because of this wicked form of cancer.As others have said, it is a long memoir, but hard to put down .... or listen to, in my case. It is so well written and filled with passion and emotion, I found myself sobbing at times!A special addition to the audio version was hearing Joyce and Jim reading their wedding vows to each other. So lovely, yet so sad, knowing that voice is gone forever and the life they had planned, over. I plan to read her other memoir At Home in the World - about her relationship with J.D. Salinger.
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  • Sherri Thacker
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! What a heartbreaking story!! I would’ve gave this 5 stars because she wrote with such passion but I just felt it was “too long of a book”.
  • Cindi
    January 1, 1970
    As a young wife and mother I loved Maynard's writings about motherhood and marriage. I am glad she found happiness with a loving spouse, but this book reeked of narcissism and self envolvment. She writes about adopting two girls from Africa only to rescind the adoption, without explaination except to say it was difficult.The next chapter is about being driven around by her boyfriend in his Porsche, traveling to Europe and staying at her one of her vacation homes, one begins to see a woman who is As a young wife and mother I loved Maynard's writings about motherhood and marriage. I am glad she found happiness with a loving spouse, but this book reeked of narcissism and self envolvment. She writes about adopting two girls from Africa only to rescind the adoption, without explaination except to say it was difficult.The next chapter is about being driven around by her boyfriend in his Porsche, traveling to Europe and staying at her one of her vacation homes, one begins to see a woman who is so self involved she becomes boorish. She repeats ad nauseam, how much this man loved her, was jealous of her working with other men, babied her and capitulated to her. His death is very sad, his suffering leading up to his death is heartbreaking. Regrettably, in the book he is no more than a shadow. He was either perfect or not able to exert his personality at all.She is very good, maybe even great writer, but not a person I would want to know
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  • Margerywieder
    January 1, 1970
    Although this is a very engaging memoir, my rating is influenced by my opinion of the writer, who (though she tells the story of her deep love for her husband), seems so narcissistic/egocentric. One example that stands out for me is her negative description of her husband's daughter. Honest, I guess, but very ungenerous, it seems to me.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    This 448-page love letter highlighting Joyce’s abbreviated love story with soulmate Jim is one chock full of emotion and packed a powerful punch. This beautifully written tribute is simply stunning. I mourn Maynard’s loss and reading this book serves as a reminder to not take my own marriage for granted; it could all change tomorrow.The book is also a reinforcement of the old saying “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I will be purchasing the audio so I can hear This 448-page love letter highlighting Joyce’s abbreviated love story with soulmate Jim is one chock full of emotion and packed a powerful punch. This beautifully written tribute is simply stunning. I mourn Maynard’s loss and reading this book serves as a reminder to not take my own marriage for granted; it could all change tomorrow.The book is also a reinforcement of the old saying “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I will be purchasing the audio so I can hear the words in Joyce’s own voice. I will have handy my box of tissues as this is one of those few books that made me cry. Thanks to Bloomsbury USA for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Judy Collins
    January 1, 1970
    From the author of (2016) Under the Influence, Joyce Maynard once again delivers a mesmerizing and beautiful journey and love story. I loved THE BEST OF US! A deeply moving and powerful tribute. One of the best memoirs I have read in 2017. Love, loss, grief, and marriage. Cancer, and its battles. Life changing experiences. The New York Times Raw and honest, a poignant and beautifully written memoir that accompanied me for a 20 hr. car ride in bumper-to-bumper gridlock traffic while evacuating From the author of (2016) Under the Influence, Joyce Maynard once again delivers a mesmerizing and beautiful journey and love story. I loved THE BEST OF US! A deeply moving and powerful tribute. One of the best memoirs I have read in 2017. Love, loss, grief, and marriage. Cancer, and its battles. Life changing experiences. The New York Times Raw and honest, a poignant and beautifully written memoir that accompanied me for a 20 hr. car ride in bumper-to-bumper gridlock traffic while evacuating Hurricane Irma from South Florida. This was supposed to be a birthday weekend trip with my sons coming into town from NC to Florida. Then with IRMA, the hotel canceled and the airlines. Not happening. Recalculate. Now, I had to evacuate and leave Florida. The perfect book would be THE BEST OF US. Loaded on all my devices and synced to my car. I knew she would carry me through. What was supposed to be a trip to Highlands, NC (Western Mountains north of Atlanta) to escape Florida and IRMA on Thursday before the upcoming disaster. With only two roads out of Florida and 7 million people in South Florida trying to evacuate. This would have been a 12-15 hr drive. However, it turned into a 20 hr. drive and never even got out of Florida, much less cross into Atlanta or NC. I could not wait to get out of the car and no hotels on this strip of the turnpike. I only made it a little north of Orlando, in Ocala, FL. (On a normal day, would take you 4 hrs.). At the end of the Florida Turnpike, when I saw I-75 after driving all night, lack of sleep, lack of fuel for travelers, overcrowded highways, and no vacancy; you can bet I grabbed the first hotel I could find when they had a last minute cancellation. I recall sitting there in the heat, trying to decide where to go, with my A/C running at a truck stop on the turnpike with hundreds of stranded families with their children and pets, sitting in my car listening to THE BEST OF US. I looked around at all the hundreds of families that may never see their homes again and are sleeping in their cars. While listening to Joyce and her brave fight as well as Jims. I am currently riding out the impending storm here in Ocala, FL at the same hotel for its duration before I can return home to Palm Beach. This central location may still face issues as well, but at least I will not be on the waterfront in South Florida. Still waiting it out until Monday and beyond to see what will happen. Without the audiobook, to accompany me on this stressful journey, narrated by Joyce, not sure I could have made it thru this time. I always purchase her audiobooks. Her voice is spellbinding. Her stories grab you by the heartstrings and never let go. While listening, filled with anxiety and stress worrying if I would (will) have an apartment to return to on the water, top floor in West Palm Beach (just remodeled) and shortly after my dad's death in June and mom last August, I had to take a moment to think beyond my current situation, while listening to this beautiful and heartbreaking love story. I related on so many levels. I have so much to be thankful for. Her voice was calming and soothing. Being around the same age as the author, and single (divorced), I found it refreshing —two courageous and talented people were able to find one another and bring so much joy to one another if only for a short time. From the love, tears, fears, and sorrows, I adore Joyce Mayard's writing and highly recommend this amazing book. Flaws and all, she shares a personal story with passion, heart, and soul; filled with humor, wit, love, grief, honesty, and raw emotion. From the darkest hours to the magical moments. An added bonus for the audiobook readers, the author, and Jim share their wedding vows. Priceless! Readers, you have to meet Jim. An incredible man and one which will not be forgotten. An inspiring story! For readers who enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air Highly Recommend the author and this amazing book. Buy the audio! An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. Book Guide JDCMustReadBooks
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    Having never read Joyce Maynard, this book introduced me to a woman who married her soulmate Jim, only to lose him to cancer. However, I found the first part of the book hard to get through. As I meet Joyce and her new beau, I often found myself rolling my eyes at the constant use of superlatives. (Everything was the best or the happiest). She was repetitive on stating her age and how long she had been since single as well as continually griped about her ex getting the farm in the divorce. (Seri Having never read Joyce Maynard, this book introduced me to a woman who married her soulmate Jim, only to lose him to cancer. However, I found the first part of the book hard to get through. As I meet Joyce and her new beau, I often found myself rolling my eyes at the constant use of superlatives. (Everything was the best or the happiest). She was repetitive on stating her age and how long she had been since single as well as continually griped about her ex getting the farm in the divorce. (Seriously, she was still griping after Jim got his diagnosis). In the second half of the book it is obvious Joyce Maynard is a talented writer who was madly in love with her husband. The diagnosis and struggle through treatment it is obviously painful to Maynard. While I enjoyed her writing style, much of the story seemed unrealistic as they traveled extensively, attended concerts, etc while visiting various doctors, holistic healers, undergoing chemotherapy and having major surgery. (most of which happened hundreds or thousands of miles from home). Also, while mentioning financial resources were limited, there was no hesitation to purchase an expensive car, a cabin, travel extensively, attend concerts or cover uninsured treatments. I respect Joyce for sharing her story and I am sad for her loss but I had a hard time connecting with her as a real person.
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  • Jean Jenkins
    January 1, 1970
    Reading a 'personal experience' book seemed like a good idea at the time. Some years back, a member of my family had a bout with pancreatic cancer, and I was curious how others went through the process. But the disease is both an uphill battle and an uphill climb. I almost put this book down a couple of times but am glad I didn't. Maynard's writing is clear and honest, sleek yet warm. She lures the reader inside her relationship with Jim, her husband, the patient, and brings him so alive that th Reading a 'personal experience' book seemed like a good idea at the time. Some years back, a member of my family had a bout with pancreatic cancer, and I was curious how others went through the process. But the disease is both an uphill battle and an uphill climb. I almost put this book down a couple of times but am glad I didn't. Maynard's writing is clear and honest, sleek yet warm. She lures the reader inside her relationship with Jim, her husband, the patient, and brings him so alive that the reader comes to mourn him too. I learned some things about the disease, the procedures, and a great deal about deep relationships that work and why they do. This book is honest, reflective,, informative, and well-written. Can't ask for more than that.
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  • Christina Kline
    January 1, 1970
    What does it mean to find the love of your life when you’ve given up on love — and to journey with that person right to the end? Clear-eyed, unsentimental, yet infused with joy and gratitude, THE BEST OF US is a later-in-life love story. Filled with passion and humor and beauty and aching sadness, this memoir gets at the heart of what love is: a willingness to open your heart completely to another person despite the risk of heartbreak. I flew through the pages.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    As a NYT bestselling novelist and memoirist, Joyce Maynard shares the chasm between tender happiness and searing heartbreak in her memorable love story, “The Best of Us: A Memoir” When Maynard married for the second time, at age 59, she had no way of knowing time with her beloved second husband would not be long, Jim’s life would be cut so short, after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.Before Maynard met Jim, her life as a successful author was busy-- she traveled internationally on variou As a NYT bestselling novelist and memoirist, Joyce Maynard shares the chasm between tender happiness and searing heartbreak in her memorable love story, “The Best of Us: A Memoir” When Maynard married for the second time, at age 59, she had no way of knowing time with her beloved second husband would not be long, Jim’s life would be cut so short, after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.Before Maynard met Jim, her life as a successful author was busy-- she traveled internationally on various writing assignments, taught writing workshops, and spent time visiting family and friends. The relationships with the men she dated, hadn’t worked out leaving an empty loneliness. There was an acceptable trend for single women to adopt children from foreign and third world countries. Many celebrities are often seen happily pictured in the media with their adopted children. Maynard wrote candidly about her adopted African daughters, and revealed a side to these families people seldom hear about.Maynard found the love of her life with Jim, an attorney, a divorced father of three adult children. Maynard, long ago divorced, also had three adult children. With Jim, their life together was soon full of excitement, fun and travel as they combined their lives together. Both were transformed and united in a genuine loving connection. It didn’t seem like Jim’s daughter or son accepted her very well. Maynard overlooked Jim’s son’s immaturity and terrible rudeness on their wedding day, refusing to let anyone or anything spoil the occasion of their beautiful day. After Jim’s diagnosis, we realize this couple had the means to afford the best doctors and treatments available Travel from one part of the country to another was stressful enough. Some of the treatments (available to wealthy patients) seemed experimental. Their newly purchased home in Hunsaker Canyon sounded really nice, the dreams they had for family visits including grandchildren, were hopeful. Although Maynard’s story was heavy with Jim’s diagnosis of Adenocarcinoma pancreatic cancer, (the worst kind)—Neuroendocrine cancer, the easier type to treat, is what claimed the life of Steve Jobs. The message of their strong enduring love will live in memory and warm her heart for the rest of her life. *With thanks and appreciation to Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley for the direct e-copy for the purpose of review.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    The Best of Us: A Memoir by Joyce MaynardSept 2017 I received this digital book from Bloomsbury Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.What a touching and honest memoir! Joyce Maynard displays remarkable strength in sharing her story. Every author has a story to tell, not just the ones conjured up with imagination. This is a deeply personal exploration into her brief but moving relationship with her soul mate. Most divorced people will be able to relate to her quest for a mean The Best of Us: A Memoir by Joyce MaynardSept 2017 I received this digital book from Bloomsbury Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.What a touching and honest memoir! Joyce Maynard displays remarkable strength in sharing her story. Every author has a story to tell, not just the ones conjured up with imagination. This is a deeply personal exploration into her brief but moving relationship with her soul mate. Most divorced people will be able to relate to her quest for a meaningful relationship post divorce. Although cliche, when you least expect something wonderful to happen is when you are presented with the unexpected. It is wonderful to read how they relished everyday together before and after Jim's diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. It is admirable the painful fight exerted against this growing "cancer" monster. They put up a vicious fight until the end. Accepting hospice is not "giving up" but a choice to once again take control over your life and death. I remember sitting with my father-in-law as he lay dying at home as he wanted. That takes courage to choose your ending by reflecting on your life and memories. This is truly a memoir written from the heart. It is an easily read book that is hard to put down for the genuine life lessons she shares. I could feel the grief and relief to which she must have felt to confront her deepest feelings through writing. Similarly, I believe we all have painful memories of situations in which we might've handled differently in hindsight. Although, it is said that the best life lessons are learned through experience. I had read, "Under the Influence", and had such mixed feelings about it. After reading this book, I find new meaning in those words. She was enduring her own challenges while writing that book.
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  • Terry ~ Huntress of Erudition
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Netgalley, for the chance to review an advance copy of this wonderful book:The two most important issues to me in a book are personal enlightenment and character growth - I feel I have learned so much through reading Maynard's account of her husband's struggle with pancreatic cancer. My husband and I are about the same ages as Joyce and Jim when the book was written, so a lot of what she describes about the relationship rings true to me. I think the title, "The Best of Us", refers to s Thank you Netgalley, for the chance to review an advance copy of this wonderful book:The two most important issues to me in a book are personal enlightenment and character growth - I feel I have learned so much through reading Maynard's account of her husband's struggle with pancreatic cancer. My husband and I are about the same ages as Joyce and Jim when the book was written, so a lot of what she describes about the relationship rings true to me. I think the title, "The Best of Us", refers to something she wrote towards the end of the book - that they both grew in ways neither may have done, if this tragic illness had never occurred. One thing I love about Maynard's work is her sometimes brutal honesty about herself. I feel I know her not just as a writer and excellent storyteller, but as a person.I have read "At Home in the World", "After Her" & "Under the Influence" - I could be wrong, but there seems to be a similar feeling in her work - "At Home in the World" is an actual auto biography of sorts, but it also has a great story quality to it. "After Her" and "Under the Infuence"(one of my all time favorites) each have a great story, but also an autobiographical feel to them.I would like to end this review with a quote from the book:"He had become his finest self over the course of his ordeal. I like to think the same was true of me."
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  • Keep Calm Novel On
    January 1, 1970
    NetGalley provided a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.Joyce Maynard’s memoir The Best of Us is a personal and touching glimpse of her journey with her second husband Jim. In her fifties, she was living an independent life until she met Jim. She quickly discovered emotions she had never experienced before. He opened up her heart to true love and a real partnership. The quick courtship and short marriage gave her the tools to move forward in a positive way. The diagnosis of her hus NetGalley provided a copy of the ARC in exchange for an honest review.Joyce Maynard’s memoir The Best of Us is a personal and touching glimpse of her journey with her second husband Jim. In her fifties, she was living an independent life until she met Jim. She quickly discovered emotions she had never experienced before. He opened up her heart to true love and a real partnership. The quick courtship and short marriage gave her the tools to move forward in a positive way. The diagnosis of her husband with pancreatic cancer after their first anniversary changed her forever. Her detailed account of her personal and professional journey provides insight into her determined and positive character. The reader will be impressed with her integrity, honesty, passion and true grit. Maynard is a positive force and is unstoppable. The Best of Us is a reflective read. It really is never too late.
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  • Caryn
    January 1, 1970
    On the surface, this is a memoir about a woman who loses her husband to pancreatic cancer. But in its core, it’s a love story. It was expertly written and allowed a rare glimpse into their lives as they fell in love. I loved reading the little stories that included both their ups and downs. She was unflinchingly honest, even as she shared her own faults. It was, of course, sad, but left me with hope. Will definitely be recommending.
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  • Riva Sciuto
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir can best be described as "painful" for many reasons. Joyce Maynard chronicles her husband's battle with pancreatic cancer and his untimely death because of it. And while that is unfathomably sad on its own, the memoir itself -- which extends far beyond the scope of Jim's illness and Maynard's grief -- is torturous to read. 'The Best of Us' should have been an essay in The Atlantic, not an entire book. Instead of focusing on the grief she faces after her husband's death -- the way Joa This memoir can best be described as "painful" for many reasons. Joyce Maynard chronicles her husband's battle with pancreatic cancer and his untimely death because of it. And while that is unfathomably sad on its own, the memoir itself -- which extends far beyond the scope of Jim's illness and Maynard's grief -- is torturous to read. 'The Best of Us' should have been an essay in The Atlantic, not an entire book. Instead of focusing on the grief she faces after her husband's death -- the way Joan Didion does so beautifully in 'The Year of Magical Thinking' -- or on the depth and richness of her relationship with Jim -- the way Elizabeth Alexander does in 'The Light of My Life' -- Maynard includes in this memoir everything she's ever experienced. Every insignificant, inconsequential, minuscule detail of her life. About the food she eats, the medications Jim takes, the rat that keeps them awake at night, the birthday presents she wants but doesn't think she'll get, the Porsche Boxster they drive, the BMW they buy. It is so painfully self-centered it's almost hard to read. She speaks about two Ethiopian girls she adopted and then gave up because it was too difficult to raise them. She talks openly about how Jim was kinder and more selfless than she. And at one point, Maynard laments the loss of her own freedom as a result of Jim's illness. She grieves "the loss of my freedom to do the work I love." She writes, "I need to work. And for close to a year now, it has been almost impossible to concentrate on anything besides pancreatic cancer for more than an hour or two at a time. I wish I could say I never complained about this to my husband, but I did." While she likely wants people to laud her for such honesty -- because I have no doubt this is a very real sentiment -- it's hard to believe she had such little perspective in the face of Jim's terminal illness. I wanted so much more from this memoir, but instead it was just an unending recitation of every minute detail that tangentially touched on her relationship with Jim. Its complete lack of focus results in a memoir with which I was never able to emotionally connect -- mostly, I think, because even Maynard's emotion is muddled by her own narcissism and self-absorption. Even the facets she does reveal about their relationship come off as superficial. The best part of the book comes at the end, when she writes about how Jim faced the inevitability of his death. "Perhaps the pleasure Jim took in this most recent discovery was particularly acute for another reason," she writes. "Maybe the vastness of the universe and how small we are in the face of it -- how fleeting our presence on the planet that is itself so infinitesimally small -- is a small comfort to him as he watched his own days dwindle." The one thing I appreciate about this book is Maynard's honesty about how Jim's cancer fundamentally changed her as a human being. “It was our big losses that had allowed us to make our peace," she writes. “Jim’s cancer had made me a sadder but kinder person, and certainly a more forgiving one." If only she could have infused some of that perspective and emotion into the rest of the memoir. There are so many breathtaking, haunting, beautiful memoirs out there that will enrich your life and open your heart. Unfortunately, this isn't one of them. 2.5 stars.
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  • Geneviève
    January 1, 1970
    The Best of Us is definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year, if not the best one. I had never read a book by Joyce Maynard and I am glad that I discovered this author. The Best of Us is a memoir by Joyce Maynard relating her story of finding true love, her first true partner in her late fifties, Jim. She tells the readers about a few failed encounters and brief relationships and how one day, via Internet dating, she met Jim. She eventually got married to him and a little bit mo The Best of Us is definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year, if not the best one. I had never read a book by Joyce Maynard and I am glad that I discovered this author. The Best of Us is a memoir by Joyce Maynard relating her story of finding true love, her first true partner in her late fifties, Jim. She tells the readers about a few failed encounters and brief relationships and how one day, via Internet dating, she met Jim. She eventually got married to him and a little bit more than a year after their wedding, they had the terrible news that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer – the worst type. We then learn how beautiful a couple they are, supporting each other, making the best out of it and enjoying all the moments up until the end. They go on roadtrips, he sometimes accompanies her to her writing retreat in Guatemala, he's a good photographer, they share their love of music... She did everything she could to try and save him, reaching out to people in the same situation, learning about every possible treatment and clinical trials, investing all her time and money and herself in this, hoping he would stay with her a little longer. She is transparent and true all along the book and has no shame in narrating how it affected her, him and both of them as a couple. It is so beautifully written that I felt all the emotions, the joys, the sorrows, the hopes, the disappointments and mostly, love. It was as if I was with Joyce Maynard in her home in Lafayette and she was telling me the story around a cup of coffee. She did a wonderful job of putting into words how a person can feel when confronted to a tragedy like this. Besides, she is so opened about her life and all the things she says about her children, her adoptive daughters, her friends and any small anecdotes that in the end, it was as if I knew her.I was not left with the feeling that it was a sad story – it was a wonderful story of love, compassion, courage, strength and learning to let go.I loved this book so much and how the author wrote it that if I could afford it, I would certainly go to her workshop in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. In short, I recommend this book to anyone! Many thanks for the ARC. G-
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  • Cindy
    January 1, 1970
    If you judge a memoir by how vulnerable and real the author is with us, the readers, than this is a 5 star book! After having read this book I have tremendous respect for the author, Joyce Maynard, who I have never read before. She opens her heart and soul by showing unlimited vulnerability as she shares her life story. Based on the synopsis of the book I thought I would immediately begin to read about her late husband's illness but his diagnosis wasn't shared until 40% of the way into the memoi If you judge a memoir by how vulnerable and real the author is with us, the readers, than this is a 5 star book! After having read this book I have tremendous respect for the author, Joyce Maynard, who I have never read before. She opens her heart and soul by showing unlimited vulnerability as she shares her life story. Based on the synopsis of the book I thought I would immediately begin to read about her late husband's illness but his diagnosis wasn't shared until 40% of the way into the memoir. This story is really about a woman, a mother, a wife and and author who has had her share of happiness and quite a bit of sadness as she tries to find herself and love. I respect her for her honesty and I am so sad for her loss but I struggled a bit with the book as at times as I had a hard time connecting with her.Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this book.
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  • Syrie James
    January 1, 1970
    A heartbreaking novel about a woman (who happens to be a well-known and successful author) who, after after a nasty divorce and many years living as a single mom, finds the love of her life at age 58, only to have him be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, go through the hell of treatments, and then pass away far too young. My husband was diagnosed with the same deadly and terrifying disease this year, and it was even more painful for me to read this memoir and recognize every moment as all-too fa A heartbreaking novel about a woman (who happens to be a well-known and successful author) who, after after a nasty divorce and many years living as a single mom, finds the love of her life at age 58, only to have him be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, go through the hell of treatments, and then pass away far too young. My husband was diagnosed with the same deadly and terrifying disease this year, and it was even more painful for me to read this memoir and recognize every moment as all-too familiar and real. Maynard pulls no punches in revealing the dark side of her personality--kudos to her for honesty. It's an excellent reminder that we all must appreciate what we have today, never take anything for granted, tell our loved ones that we love them, take those trips we're dreaming about NOW-- don't put anything off for tomorrow, for you never know what will come around the corner and turn your life upside down in a second. Highly recommended.
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    Author Joyce Maynard has always been a controversial figure in the literary world. From her affair with author J.D. Salinger, then selling the letters he wrote her, to a difficult divorce Maynard has had a rocky relationship with love and perception. Maynard finally finds true love with an equal partner when she is in her 50's only to be devastated when her husband is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is her love story, although it's not an easy read.
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