Three Legs in the Evening
A life carefully built can crumble in a moment, but what happens then? Sally B. plays it out as best she can.
Three Legs in the Evening comes from the Sphinx's riddle in Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, in which Oedipus is asked what creature walks on all fours in the morning, on two legs in the afternoon, and three in the evening. The answer, which Oedipus gets right, is Man, who crawls as a baby, walks upright as a man, and leans on a cane in his old age. Received wisdom, in other words, can be unreliable. Enter the story of Sally B, an over-sixty widow about to retire from her successful greeting card business in the aftermath of 9/11. She has a devoted family who relies on her wit and wisdom. But suddenly all hell breaks loose — her best friend dies, she falls into an open grave and she breaks her ankle. As this is happening, her children’s marital lives are unraveling, her grandchildren are in turmoil, and a man she has known from a time before comes back in her life. Taking place over a year, this is a story of love in a time of horror, as well as the profound and surprising ways in which everything Sally thought she knew changes. Sexy, funny and heart-wrenching, and much like Kent Haruf's Our Souls At Night, Three Legs in the Evening speaks about people running out of steam, running out of time, and finding solace and wisdom even in the finality of all that. A life carefully built can crumble in a moment, but what happens then? Sally B. plays it out as best she can.
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Getting old is inevitable. But finding joy, peace, and even adventure in the final years when your dreams, your plans, and your world are unsteady, even crumbling, is what determines whether you’ve fully embraced your life on this Earth. Three Legs in the Evening is about Sally B., an elderly widow who is ready to retire after running a successful greeting card business. It’s the aftermath of 9/11. The world has not only dramatically changed, but it has also become less kind, less tolerant. And amid this global turmoil, Sally sees her personal world falling apart. Her children are suffering in their marriages, the grandchildren are troubled, health issues arise, and Sally, breaks her ankle after falling into the open grave of her best friend. Yep. That happens. Author Bette Ann Moskowitz reminds us that when one’s world begins to unravel, we either unravel with it, or we discover our strength and resilience. And add a little love to that dynamic and things get more interesting. A man Sally has known for many years returns to her life and with this comes myriad changes, some quite unexpected, some life-affirming. Three Legs in the Evening — the title taken from the Sphinx’s riddle in Oedipus Rex, in which Oedipus is asked that walks creature walks on four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon, and three in the evening. It’s man. In those elderly years, the cane is his third leg — takes place over a year and focuses on what to do with the time that remains. The story is witty, but also profound. And the main character, Sally, is a delight to be around. It’s a story about finding wisdom and clarity at the end of a life, told with humor and grace, reminding us that life is to be fully lived all the way to its final days. ~ David W. Berner - The Writer Shed, https://medium.com/the-writer-shed/three-legs-in-the-evening-b7b77be6dbf8
Funny, quirky and all too true to life, this delightful look at growing older from Bette Anne Moskowitz is definitely well worth the read, especially if you are growing older, and even if you are not! There are three distinct sections to Three Legs in the Evening, naturally you could say a beginning a middle and an end but that is a bit clinical, although that is exactly what it is, the three stages of maturing, once you reach a certain age, but not exactly like a fine wine. Sally is at her long-time friend Susie’s funeral; it is a hot day, she is dressed to the max in a sharp red dress, high heels and has a hanky pinned to her hair. She is beginning to wonder why she wore a red wool dress when a grieving relative ‘accidentally’ knocks her into Susie’s grave, where she landed on top of the coffin, breaking her ankle! Having made the decision to retire she sells up her greeting card business, and as the days pass she grieves for her friend Suzie, her husband who passed several years before from Cancer and for her former life. Mindlessly watching the television, at first she thinks the terrible events of the Bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York was just fiction, but once she realises it is fact, she like many others becomes obsessed with the event. She finds this very unsettling, more than normal, which coincides with other events in her children’s lives and the possible advent of new man, or men in her life, a huge worry about a red car that appears to be abandoned, which in her mind, as she linked it to the World Trade Centre bombing, is disconcerting. As each incident unfolds, she begins at times to question what is right and what is not; is she over reacting, should she be enjoying a new ‘love affair’ even though she has been widowed for some time. Many seemingly small aspects of her life in general appear to be far more problematic than before and reality is what she wants to make of it, at any given time. Bette Anne Moskowitz has delicately created a gentle pathway into the issue of the mental health that often comes with growing older. She has used wisdom, humour and a lovable character in Sally, who it is very easily able to relate to, who could be your mother, grandmother or yourself. Three Legs in the Evening is a must read for anyone who is perhaps approaching a certain age and really understands the many idiosyncrasies of growing older, with a certain flair and pizazz. ~ Blue Wolf Reviews, https://bluewolf-reviews.com/books/fiction/three-legs-in-the-evening-a-novel/
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars........I recommend it for older, senior readers. It is somewhat heavy, lots of ideas and thoughts to make sense of. However, it is also life affirming. Being old, finding romance and new love is a not a common theme in books. I praise the author for going somewhere new and I appreciate the sly humor and wit throughout the book. ~ Katherina Martin (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Chock full of real-life experiences all woven together within a smorgasbord of dutifully crafted issues and hurdles, such as medical, divorce, sex and more, what Bette has done here is not only beautifully shown us these aforementioned three legs of life but moreover walks us by the hand, at a very congenial pace, through the latter stages of life. At all times, done so in a heartwarming and yet diligent way, Sally is someone you will sooner than later end up siding with amongst all the incoming battles she has to fight; her wit, her annoyances, and her sharp tongue, clearly an attribute to how she survives - both physically and mentally. ~ Exclusive Magazine, Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This is not a book that will appeal to everyone. I recommend it for older, senior readers. It is somewhat heavy, lots of ideas and thoughts to make sense of. However, it is also life affirming. Being old, finding romance and new love is a not a common theme in books. I praise the author for going somewhere new and I appreciate the sly humor and wit throughout the book. ~ Katherina Martin (Reviewer), NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. This book was amazing, the tone reminding me of books like apA Man Called Ove and many others. Nice developement and description of Sally as she progresses through retirement , aging, finding a new love, developing memory loss and all it entails. Really loved it. ~ Kathy Libera (Reviewer), NetGalley
Three Legs in the evening Words, actions, other family members' opinions, and situations not under her control are ways we get to know Sally. Direct, honest, and getting to the point at times her statements are misguided and misunderstood. The prologue leads us to what a granddaughter remembers about Sally. Can someone channel her as we read this prologue the author of these words relates to things Sally, her grandmother would have done? Her description of 9/11 was unique as it was a huge event but in the future, some would remain nostalgic about it and some even today have no idea what it was. Events came flooding back as the author of the prologue tells us how Sally told her kids about the Holocaust, pearl harbor, Chornobyl and9/11. And how are we to hold them in our minds at once before we explode? Changes come, floods, tornadoes, what next misery is to come as we now meet Sally in the present and you the reader will decide your thoughts about her yourself. It begins with the funeral of her best friend and she analyzed their friendship, how they got along, what they shared, and the analysis of those that attended. Even the roses she picked, cards written, and then the unthinkable as she was about to throw her rose on the coffin. How did she fall into the grave? Was she pushed or was she just clumsy? Poor Sally winds up with a broken ankle and remembers what was left of the city after 9/11. Closed streets, who was gone that she knew, and what about her card business? Who left the red car? For some reason, this played on her mind. Each of her children is in a relationship that will yield divorce and each one compares theirs to their mother's. Seeing her card company destroyed and sorry she sold its words and cards to fit lifestyles and occasions. Going back to where it happened and seeking out those left and then seeing Dr. Joe and wondering where it might lead. Voices of each of her children analyzing their lives in her light. Telling Dr. Joe she never should have retired and telling them about the greeting business and making her recall how she got ideas and sayings. Talked about the ideas, talked about Vietnam and 9/11 plus a friend on the bus, Ilana, the bus driver, the red car, and more. Then they talked about him and why he became a doctor. Learning that her daughter was seeing Fred upset her for good reasons. The author shares Emily and Fred's moments but there has to be a reason why she chose him. Rather than destroying their relationship, she has to accept it. Will she? The man who was an accountant now wears an animal costume as part of his job. Then agreeibgvtobgobon a cruise with Bradley, why did he change his mind and where will it go? Each section started with a phrase in bold leading to the subject being discussed or described by Sally. She was definite in her thoughts, at times close-minded, and yet for her birthday her family created a special look of memories they had about her. One daughter stated that her mother's saying was to put things in perspective. Sally recalls an incident involving her young granddaughter and how her child reacted. Then Mark her son adds says It isn't what happens to you, it's what you make of what happens to you, do true. Rita said sister in law said her favorite was to concentrate on her point of pain and Douglas said tell me everything wonderful and Matt don't be a victim of your own life as each person spoke in turn in a circle. Why did Sally remember her late husband? Page 73 sums it up. Part 2 brings us closer to Sally and how spending time together. Wanting her to meet his family and talking about moving their relationship a notch Sally is complex in some areas and each time things get closer she reflects on moments with her late husband in the past. Comparisons don't add up or work if you are closed-minded about someone new. Relationships change and are not the same and Sally has her take on Joe and his on her. Added in there is Emily and Fred and her thoughts are told ad id the author created a play with several acts and a novel as you can picture the characters on stage saying their lines and not in true conversation but dialogues scripted. Humor injected, anger, sarcasm, and even kindness and understanding as Sally begins to change but how and why? Evidence that her memory was slipping, misplacing things, and a confrontation between Emily and Joe and family worries as Sally had done some odd thongs, and in the end, it gets sadder. As Sally and Joe talk about Arthur's death we see her decline as her speech and dialogue change and you know she is in the next phase of Alzheimer having dealt with it with my mom it's horrific, sad, and hard to handle at times. Sally and Joe had to deal with their illnesses but her memory went fast and in the end Home Free. The story of the red car is told learn about it yourself as you learn about Bryan and his red car and in the end what caused others to suffer could have been avoided learn how. As we go back to the prologue and read the final words: read it yourself and decide sallys meaning. The author takes us deep inside the minds of each character, their flaws, fears, and perception of Sally as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. The many moods of Sally and her relationships are at the heart of this gripping and heartfelt story. As the back cover says: a life can crumble in a moment. Sally B plays it out as best she can. True to life, filled with interesting characters and the foundation of how 9/11 changed so many lives. Fran Lewis just reviews ~ Fran Lewis - Just reviews, https://tillie49.wordpress.com/2023/04/11/three-legs-in-the-evening/
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Three Legs In The Evening is the third novel by American author Bette Ann Moskowitz. Some five years after losing her husband Artie to cancer, sixty-eight-year-old Sally Battel has moved to retire. Her successful greeting card shop, Seasoned Greetings is located in Maiden Lane, not far from the World Trade Centre, and post-9/11, the streets are deserted. She dismisses her son’s concerns about her safety, but does wonder about a certain seemingly-abandoned red car, and an absent tax preparer in a nearby office. And she’s not entirely sure she wants to retire. It's after her best friend Susie’s funeral, at which Sally somehow accidentally falls onto the coffin (no, she did not throw herself in, she was pushed!) and breaks her ankle, that she really has to fight off her children and their well-intentioned interference. They are suddenly freer with advice, as if she’s lost the ability to think for herself......Moskowitz’s style is reminiscent of Anne Tyler’s work, describing ordinary people leading ordinary lives with the odd quirk or funny incident to make them a bit more interesting. Sally’s habit of translating her feelings into greeting card sentiments is amusing and sometimes endearing. This is an entertaining, moving and uplifting tale. ~ Marianne Vincent (Reviewer), NetGalley
Three Legs in the Evening is such a gem of a book – gentle and charming, but still packs a punch. The headstrong main character, Sally, is instantly likeable and props up all the supporting characters in her life with her wit and charisma. Through her writing, Moskowitz covers a plethora of life's biggest challenges: illness, divorce, sex, death.. seen through Sally's eyes this isn't a depressing story, but rather a funny and, at times, heart-warming journey through the later stages of life. ~ Lucy Harwood (Reviewer) , NetGalley
A moving, funny, and layered look into the life and mind of a charismatic woman grappling with mental deterioration and the loss of her life-partner. With ruthless honesty and keen observation Moskowitz sympathizes with her characters without ever veering into sentimentality. Readers will root for sharp-witted Sally from start to end and through all the unexpected avenues in between. ~ Anne McGrath, author, Best American Essays, Notable
Full disclosure: I had already read three of Bette Ann Moskowitz’s books when I dove into Three Legs in the Evening. As an established fan of her distinct humor and sharp-tongued dialogue, I had high expectations, and Moskowitz did not disappoint. Sally is a complex and likeable protagonist who has spent her life as a wordsmith and proud owner of a greeting card shop, comforting her family and customers alike with words of wisdom packed into sleek, memorable phrases meant to soothe, encourage and teach. But post-retirement life and widowhood has her losing her grip and her words as she strives to hold onto her safe and “temperate zone” – eschewing highs and lows – while the world is literally crumbling to ashes after 9/11. Despite insisting, “You can’t go east all your life and end up in the west,” she does just that – finding pleasure with a new lover, losing her once steadfast control, and walking head-first into the unknown. This is a story of a woman searching for something remarkably different while desperately trying to cling to parts of her past as she begins to cognitively decline. It’s about love, aging, bravery, and navigating complicated family ties. It’s raw and truthful. You will tear up and laugh out loud. Be sure to allot several hours of quiet time. You won’t be able to put this one down. ~ Myrna Haskell, executive editor of Sanctuary magazine