Elderly, fat, rebellious and rambunctious Aggie lives in uneasy, sometimes hostile relationship with her aging daughter, June. As June contemplates moving Aggie into a nursing home and Aggie struggles to retain her wit and her wits, they await the decisive arrival of Aggie's much-loved granddaughter, June's daughter, Frances.
Alice Munro: "Joan Barfoot's charting of family life is unsparing, painful, witty and surprising. The cumulative effect is remarkably powerful."
The New York Times: "Joan Barfoot's own voice is unsentimental to a fault, wry and quite powerful. To say what this book is about is simply too small a gesture. It is more apt, in this case, to say that it is very fine and that, at the end the reader's appetite, unlike Aggie's, is entirely satisfied both intellectually and emotionally."
Ms. Magazine: "a rich, haunting meditation on the density of human experience and the cost of letting it go."
Kirkus Reviews: "An immensely touching and acute tale of the sad and terrible delicacy of family ties and the wounding price of isolation."
Publishers Weekly: "poignant and gratifying tale of the ties that bind a family."
Library Journal: "beautifully and sensitively explores the relationship between three generations of women in one family...A lovely, rare novel"
Booklist: "A book of uncommon depth."
Boston Globe: "a quietly powerful book, able to bear the weight of the family history it carries."
The Chicago Tribune: "Canadian author Joan Barfoot proves a font of emotional wisdom with 'Duet for Three', a blunt and heartbreaking meditation on family ties that buckle and bind, strain and snap."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Deliberately narrow in scope, the novel has a blinding truthfulness and its own unsentimental hope."
Selected for: American Library Association list of "Notable Books 1987"
The (London) Sunday Times: "Pithy, tender novel about three generations of women...A marvellous book about mutual dependence written in Barfoot's tense and urgent style."
The Guardian: "an excruciating tale"
Selected in Britain as: One of the "top twenty" novels for the 1986 Feminist Book Fair and Festival
Morning Herald (Australia): "Aggie and June's achievement of that nascent understanding is the profound, moving, wonderful gift of this tremendously rich and fine novel."
Toronto Star: "All that stands between Joan Barfoot and the international reputation she deserves is time. With the publication of Duet for Three, her time has come...In short, it's a first-rate novel by any standard."
The Globe and Mail: "a penetrating study of three women as they head inexorably toward a crisis in their lives...Duet for Three lingers in the mind, its family discords as potentially explosive as Aggie's imagined self-demolition."
Vancouver Sun: "In sparse, controlled prose, Barfoot exploits the humor and ironies at work beneath the surface of her theme...Reading Barfoot for the first time is akin to the pleasure of discovering Margaret Laurence."