"A son returns to the small Missouri town of his childhood to see his ninety-something mother. Having lost his publishing job, his freelancing gigs allow him to stay a while and help out. But for how long? As happens in these sorts of situations, Hodgman’s past relationship with his mom seeps into the present, despite her limitations. The Hodgmans had a rather conservative church-abiding lifestyle, but Mom, a looker when she was young, had this wistful relationship with glamorous big city life, and loved to go to St. Louis for the day. George kept distance between his family and his life (and alas, his addictions) in New York, though at least one boyfriend insisted on accompanying him for a visit. Now in the present, George desperately wants to get his mom into assisted living, but she’s not going anywhere. But how can George ever return to New York if she insists on staying at a home she can no longer function in? I now understand why so many people wanted me to read Bettyville when it first came out; Hodgson completely captures the complicated dynamic of an adult child and their elderly parent, and I would guess that anyone in this situation would identify with and find comfort in the story, told with gentle charm and grace."— Daniel Goldin
"The idea of a cultured gay man leaving New York City to care for his aging mother in Paris, Missouri, is already funny, and George Hodgman reaps that humor with great charm. But then he plunges deep, examining the warm yet fraught relationship between mother and son with profound insight and understanding." --Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself--an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook--in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can't bring himself to force her from the home both treasure--the place where his father's voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.
As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty's life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town--crumbling but still colorful--to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman's New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son's return.
"A remarkable, laugh-out-loud book . . . Rarely has the subject of elder care produced such droll human comedy, or a heroine quite on the mettlesome order of Betty Baker Hodgman. For as much as the book works on several levels (as a meditation on belonging, as a story of growing up gay and the psychic cost of silence, as metaphor for recovery), it is the strong-willed Betty who shines through." --The New York Times
About the Author
George Hodgman is a veteran magazine and book editor who has worked at Simon & Schuster, Vanity Fair, and Talk magazine. His writing has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Interview, W, and Harper's Bazaar, among other publications. He lives in New York City and Paris, Missouri.