Profound, perceptive, and wryly observed, Estates Large and Small is the story of one man’s reckoning and an ardent defense of the shape books make in a life.
What decades of rent increases and declining readership couldn’t do, a pandemic finally did: Phil Cooper has reluctantly closed his secondhand bookstore and moved his business online. Smoking too much pot and listening to too much Grateful Dead, he suspects that he’s overdue when it comes to understanding the bigger picture of who he is and what we’re all doing here. So he’s made another decision: to teach himself 2,500 years of Western philosophy.
Thankfully, he meets Caroline, a fellow book lover who agrees to join him on his trek through the best of what’s been thought and said. But Caroline is on her own path, one that compels Phil to rethink what it means to be alive in the twenty-first century. In Estates Large and Small Ray Robertson renders one man’s reckoning with both wry humour and tender joy, reminding us of what it means to live, love, and, when the time comes, say goodbye.
Praise for Estates Large and Small
"This wry novel follows a struggling used bookstore owner and Grateful Dead fan as he grudgingly moves his store online, decides to teach himself two millenniums of Western philosophy, falls in love and attempts to pin down the point of life."
—New York Times
"With the publication of Estates Large and Small, novelist Ray Robertson succeeds in reminding his readers just what it means to live, love, and (when the time comes) to say goodbye. Deftly crafted and memorable characters, a narrative storyline laced with humor and acute observation."
—Midwest Book Review
"Ray Robertson asks us to think about life as a rental, and to make the best out of it before our lease runs out."
—Literary Review of Canada
"Estates Large and Small is a thoughtful book that manages to make its serious existential themes both entertaining and, yes, hopeful."
—Ottawa Review of Books
"The issues, relationships and real-life collisions in the novel keep reminding the reader that an intellectual exercise by itself doesn’t offer much beyond intellectual satisfaction. Estates Large and Small offers so much more if you can handle the trepidation it shares."
—Winnipeg Free Press
"This novel takes you on a rollercoaster of heartwarming and melancholic moments that will leave you contemplating what your own journey is and how you can make the most of your life."
—White Wall Review
"Chatham-born author Ray Robertson likes to tell a story in his novels that makes his readers ponder their own lives. He’s hit the mark again with Estates Large and Small."
—Chatham Daily News
"Ray Robertson's novel Estates Large and Small is both poignant and heartwarming."
“A warmhearted and unconventional love story that's also an opportunity for a gentle encounter with some of life's fundamental questions ... With Phil's droll humor and world-weary cynicism, and Caroline's clear-eyed determination to live her final days on her own terms, the two make for an appealing couple. Like the philosophers they encounter, Estates Large and Small only hints at answers to life's deepest mysteries, but it's a wise reminder that the journey is really the point."
—Harvey Freedenberg, Shelf Awareness
Praise for Ray Robertson
“While How to Die is a slim book, it offers some hefty insights, leavened with frequent, self-effacing humour. There are numerous passages here which, while quick to read (the book is very accessible, despite its philosophical bona fides), nonetheless take hours to fully internalize … Brilliant.”
“Robertson is a moral writer and a bitingly intelligent one, a man who writes with penetrating insight of what needs to be written about: beauty, truth and goodness.”
—Globe and Mail
“Heartfelt, funny, rigorous, practical without ever being preachy . . . a book that feels like a friend.”
“One of the country’s finest literary voices."
“Many of us sense that the world has too many moving parts and can become utterly defeated. Ray Robertson has found a road back in this splendid and intriguing book [Why Not: Fifteen Reasons to Live].”