All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well (2008) by Tod Wodicka builds on the premise of an aging medieval reenactor named Bert Hecker who liquidates all his property to buy a one-way ticket to Europe in search of his estranged son. While Wodicka gets some laughs out of the man born 700 years too late motif, this novel is really the story of an dysfunctional family that falls to pieces after the death of Bert’s wife Kittie to cancer. Son Tristan, daughter June and mother-in-law Anna all play a part in this family’s strange life.
Wodicka excels at turning a clever phrase, equally adept at prompting a laugh or wrenching out some painful emotions. The novel is best at plumbing the depths of familial pain. Unfortunately, the narrative isn’t that gripping (litcrit code word for “Booooooring”). I guess I’m just “comme si, comme sa” on this book although it was a good enough read. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it but I won’t stop anyone from reading it either.
Postscript: In one of those odd coincidences, I heard someone on a podcast utter the title of this book in a completely unrelated fashion. The title is a quote from medieval mystic Julian of Norwich.