Books / Women's Fiction

Autism in Women’s Fiction: Love Anthony

love anthonyLisa Genova, who earned her doctorate in neuroscience from Harvard University, demystified early onset Alzheimer’s for readers in her debut fiction work Still Alice in 2009. After a brush with the lesser-known “Left Neglect” neurological syndrome in her second book, Genova returns to a more mainstream topic–autism–for her recently released third novel.

Love Anthony tells the story of two women’s intersecting lives on Nantucket. Olivia Dontalli moved to the island to escape the disintegration of her marriage and the death of her only son, supporting her quiet retreat from society as a beach photographer. After his diagnosis with autism at the age of three, Anthony simultaneously became the glue which held Olivia’s marriage together and the strain that revealed the fault lines in her relationship. Suddenly freed from the perceived burden of an autistic child, Olivia struggles to make sense of the meaning behind Anthony’s short, silent existence.

Beth Ellis similarly finds her life turned upside down when her husband’s young mistress sends her a memo. Despite fourteen years of marriage and three children, Beth’s bartending husband has succumbed to adultery. Confused and alone, she debates whether to fight for her marriage or surrender. In the process, Beth regains touch with the creatives energies of her youth, throwing herself into writing.

Through a twist of fate, Anthony becomes the point of convergence which brings these two women together in mutual healing.

Genova hits many of the stars common to the constellation of women’s fiction–quiet East Coast setting, marriages on the rocks, divorce, heartbreak, women’s friendships, spirituality, cozy careers, and a happy denouement which will leave readers in tears.

It is Genova’s incredibly human treatment of autism which sets her book apart from the crowd. The author succeeds in her goal to make what she imagines to be the mind of an autistic child accessible to the masses.

Love Anthony goes down smooth like a dose of mild medicine, no spoonful of sugar required. Characters, prose, and plot all lend themselves to a fast read meant to leave readers feeling warm and fuzzy. Love Anthony is a must-read for anyone whose family has been touched by autism.

 

~ Michelle

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