The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

The Last Days of Ptolemy GreyIn this departure from Walter Mosley’s critically acclaimed Easy Rawlins novels, he creates a story so compelling that it’s bound to become a classic.

The story begins at the end of Ptolemy Grey’s life. He is 91 years old, and his life has been a struggle accentuated occasionally by moments of joy. In his life, he’s seen two close friends die violent deaths, he’s been betrayed again and again by his second wife, who was also the love of his life, and he loses his great-grandnephew, Reggie, who was like a son and took care of him. Ptolemy’s mental faculties have begun to shut down, and without Reggie, there is little hope that he can go on.

Enter Robyn. This beautiful young girl who is about to turn 18 moves in with Reggie’s family and is dispatched to go check in on Ptolemy. What ensues is a relationship so beautiful and loving that it completely changes him. Robyn takes charge of Ptolemy — his home, his health, and all of his needs. She is, in fact, his savior.

Because he wants to climb out of his mental instability and haziness to share real time with Robyn, and see his past clearly before he dies, Ptolemy enters a drug test that is being conducted to determine if people can be brought back from senility. While the drug is highly effective, the duration of mental clarity is brief, and the patients are expected to die from the treatments.

In his time of lucidity, we see a clear picture of Ptolemy’s life, what has tormented him for years, and his capacity for love and forgiveness. This is a story of unconditional and unexpected love, but, more than anything else, it’s a story of regaining one’s soul.

Riverhead/Penguin; ISBN 978-1-59448-772-9; $25.95.

Return to Book Club Choices