An impressive tale, wonderfully plotted and detailed, about a woman starting over.

GRAY

This debut novel, set in New England and on the Greek island of Naxos, flirts with the bodice-ripper genre but then turns into something far different.

Vera Mine, a young 55, is sitting near her dying father, Warren, in a Massachusetts hospital room in this tale’s opening scene. After an agonizing few days, Warren does die, leaving Vera drained and totally bereft. She is divorced and childless. She loved her husband, Max, but he left her and gained “a stereotypical trophy wife.” (The therapists all agreed that Vera’s resistance to sex was the problem.) Financially well off, she decides to go to Naxos. There, she hopes to recover from her grief and start anew, practicing her painting (she’s a creditable amateur) and remaining open to adventure. Naxos, of course, is that most romantic of places, conjuring up Zorba and numerous Greek island clichés. On the ferry from Athens, she meets the embodiment of it all: Demetri, a kind of dark-haired Greek Fabio. He is friendly; his English is better than her Greek; and he and his wife and children live close to her rented cottage. She is coming back to life and so is her libido. Demetri often comes over (how does he get his farming done?) and asks to borrow her laptop to “check his email.” Greece is grappling with the draconian measures that the European Union put in place to make the country pay off its debts. Demetri often rants about this fraught situation. After some months, the protagonist’s old friend Sean, who, as the buddy convention goes, knows Vera better than she knows herself, pays a visit. He messes around in her laptop and finds that things are very bad (and dangerous) indeed.

Revealing further developments would spoil the story. That said, the ending delivers a delightful twist, an upsetting of expectations worthy of a mordant O. Henry. Roy is a very talented writer, often wickedly so, as when she describes Vera’s ditzy sister and her clueless uncle while Warren is dying (and the outrageous obit that these two write). Or Vera’s face-off with an officious dweeb in a dog park (she usually says fuckonly in her mind, but more and more she is shouting it at people who deserve it, a mark of her coming into her own). There are also moving, poetic passages on such unlikely things as hospital room numbers (“Suddenly, the numbers were briefly serene, leaned toward her, swaying: appealed to her humbly and modestly—gently asked her to stop, to please listen, to pause for a moment and rest, yes, rest”). In addition, the author deftly describes Demetri’s two kids. Vera is very perceptive, and it is clear that Elektra is Demetri’s favorite and that things are not well between Tasso and his father (as readers will see). Vera came to Greece steeped in its mythic history, enamored of Athena’s “metis.” Eventually, she will discover if she shares Athena’s “wisdom and cunning,” as most hold metis to mean. There are epigraphs heading the chapters, which tend to be short, and Roy keeps things moving along briskly. The point of view is Vera’s, third-person limited. Why it is not Vera, first person, will become quite apparent at the very end.

An impressive tale, wonderfully plotted and detailed, about a woman starting over.

Pub Date: July 27, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73751-660-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Middlesex Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more