Amy and Nick are an average couple, happily married for years and looking forward to spending their later years together. Unexpectedly, while on holiday, tragedy strikes and leaves Amy a widow. Paralyzed by grief and confusion, Amy accepts help and support from Martha, another member of their holiday touring party. Martha is an odd duck, someone Amy would never have befriended otherwise. But after returning home she feels indebted to her, and Martha becomes a regular visitor in Amy’s home. Martha helps fill otherwise long and lonely days, and slowly Amy begins rebuilding her life.
Amy’s son James and his wife Maggie repeatedly extend invitations to visit, but Amy is proud and doesn’t want to intrude (and, to be fair, James and Maggie have invited Amy more from a sense of duty than anything else). Amy’s housekeeper / cook, Ernie Pounce, tries to please her through his efficient service, better-than-average culinary abilities, and fond memories of Nick. And Gareth, her physician and long-time family friend, drops by often just to chat or have a meal. But Martha makes herself such a presence in Amy’s life, that Amy is oblivious to care offered by relatives and close friends. And yet, when Martha most needs Amy’s help and support, Amy fails her.
Blaming was Taylor’s last novel, published just months before her death. It is a quiet, sad book, perhaps reflecting Taylor’s own mood at the time, since she knew she was dying of cancer. It is moving in her typically understated way, and yet she also unleashed her brilliant wit in portrayals of Ernie, and Amy’s two grandchildren, lightening the mood at just the right moments. While Blaming is not as strong as some of Taylor’s early and mid-career novels, it is a fitting conclusion to her work.