They call us the "sandwich" generation --- middle aged folk who are
finding it necessary to begin caring for our parents while at the
same time still launching our children into the world. One day we
wake up and discover that we are not only parenting our children,
but we are also parenting one or both of our
When this happens, we are all strangers in a strange land,
traveling down paths fraught with frustration and difficulty.
Parents frequently don't think they need any advice or assistance,
even when it is obvious that they do. And when a child (and we are
always children in our parents' eyes, aren't we?) has to step in
and take over, difficulties arise.
In PATRIMONY, Philip Roth examines this problem with humor and
sensitivity. The book chronicles the last years of his father
Herman's life, as he battles with a brain tumor. As he watches his
father, who was famous for his vigor, charm and sense of humor,
slowly decline, he finds that his relationship with him deepens and
At first it seems that his father will simply need a little help.
But gradually, as Herman begins to lose his sight and his hearing,
it becomes clear that someone will have to care for him full-time.
Persuading Herman of that turns out to be a difficult task. As the
months pass and his father's condition at first improves and then
worsens, Roth himself discovers how deeply he admires and loves his
father despite the thorniness of their relationship.
PATRIMONY is the incredibly moving story of a father-son
relationship that is filled with poignancy, vulnerability and love.
It is a book that will touch your emotions and resonate long after
you finish it.
Reviewed by Judith Handschuh (JHSCRIBA) on January 22, 2011