An entertaining glimpse into Manhattan’s 19th-century high society and the conflict between tradition and innovation.

OUR KIND OF PEOPLE

In New York City’s Gilded Age, one family struggles to maintain their place among the other members of high society.

Despite her prestigious Dutch roots and copious family money, Helen Maitland wasn't particularly popular among the eligible bachelors of Manhattan, and she was at risk of ending up a spinster. Then she fell for Joshua Wilcox, a country boy who lived near her family’s summer home. Her mother would surely have forbidden the match, but after discovering Helen in a compromising position, she has no choice but to allow the marriage to proceed. Years later, in 1874, it’s time for Helen and Joshua to present their eldest daughter, Jemima, to society, and Helen worries that her husband’s subpar pedigree may jeopardize Jemima’s chance at an advantageous match. Worse yet, Joshua has made poor financial decisions, and the consequences seem to be bearing out at the worst possible time. As the family falls from riches to rags, invitations to social events quickly dwindle, as do friendly visits from other members of Manhattan’s elite. In addition, both Jemima and her younger sister, Alice, have begun developing feelings for specific gentlemen who are clearly outside the purview of their mother’s desires for them. As this novel of manners meanders forward, the narrative shifts perspectives frequently, offering insights from many of the different characters, including Joshua and Helen, both of their daughters, and other members of the New York gentry. Characters travel around town to Washington Square Park, Delmonico’s, the opera, and other exciting locales, treating readers to many delightful details about Manhattan in the latter part of the 19th century. Character development and plot movement are strongest in the first third of the novel, after which the pace slows considerably. Even so, fans of Bridgerton and Downton Abbey will delight in this period piece and its plethora of charming details about fabrics, dance cards, and decorum.

An entertaining glimpse into Manhattan’s 19th-century high society and the conflict between tradition and innovation.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-54002-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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