“A vibrant novel that enchantingly explores the space between philosophical concepts and our hapless floundering in life’s challenges.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Rudy Harrington is ready for a new life. His daughters are grown, his wife has died, and the idea of running an avocado grove in Texas suddenly seems infinitely more appealing than staying in his rambling midwestern house.
So a new life it is. Rudy heads off for a part of the world where he knows scarcely a soul. But he has a guide: a slender book called Philosophy Made Simple, each chapter highlighting the ideas of a different philosopher.
No amount of Plato, Schopenhauer, or Sartre, however, can prepare Rudy for the surprises that emerge as he arranges for his daughter’s Hindu wedding in Texas and gets to know Norma Jean - an elephant with a talent for painting - who is abandoned to Rudy’s care and who leads him toward an encounter with an extraordinary woman and the prospect of a new love.
“What’s most satisfying - and profound - about Robert Hellenga’s writing is that he has great respect for the complexity of ordinary people and events (though he spices his story with some pretty extraordinary ones as well!). I loved this book, every graceful insight, every unexpected turn.” - Rosellen Brown, author of Tender Mercies and Before and After