The seventy-year-old widower and retired librarian, Percy Darling, in Julia Glass’ The Widower’s Tale, has been entrenched in his old house for 30 years after the tragic death of his wife. He’s definitely set in his eccentric ways. But in order to help his daughter Clover find a job, he has allowed the local preschool, Elves and Fairies, to renovate his barn to use as their new venue if they hire Clover. The changes begin with a small purchase: Percy has to give up his daily skinny dipping in the pond on his property and wear a garish pink pineapple print swimsuit for his daily swim.
The world opens up for Percy on his pilgrimage out of Matlock, a small town near Boston. He falls in love with a younger woman with child and she becomes ill. His perfect grandson, who is in premed at Harvard, inadvertently gets involved in eco-terrorism through his roommate Arturo. There's Ira, the gay preschool teacher whose partner helps Percy's daughter with her custody battle. And there's the illegal Guatemalan gardener. Funny and sad, Percy’s dilemmas help him grow and form friendships and show his love for his family.