A nicely judged fictional resurrection joins the tribute library accumulating around a literary icon.

MISS AUSTEN

Sister of the more famous Jane, Cassandra Austen emerges as a figure in her own right, a woman who, although disappointed in love, finds fulfillment in her devotion to her sister, both in her lifetime and beyond.

“Poor, beautiful Miss Austen, condemned to eke out a sad life with nothing to do but care for others and control the temperament of her difficult sister” is the comical opinion of Jane Austen herself on her sister, Cassy, at least according to Hornby (All Together Now, 2015, etc.), whose animation of the close relationship between the siblings is the driving force of her new novel. Denied marriage and children after the death of her fiance, Cassandra becomes a model of duty and self-sacrifice, watching over her family generally and Jane in particular as keeper of the flame and guardian of her reputation. This role will include destroying any evidence detrimental to Jane’s future status, such as letters revealing a fragile, depressive side to her character. It’s on this mission that Cassy, in 1840, decades after her sister’s death, visits the Kintbury vicarage to sift through a stash of Jane’s correspondence. As Cassy reviews these letters, so the story flashes back to earlier episodes—of sisterly delight; of anxiety about the future when the Austens must leave their home after Mr. Austen’s retirement; of trips to Bath and the English coast; of meetings with potential suitors. All this offers Hornby the opportunity to observe the marriage market, women’s lot, and men’s dominion—though with a heavier satirical hand than Jane Austen’s—and also to suggest that members of Austen’s own circle might have inspired some of her characters. Cassy herself never quite convinces and the business of the book can seem scattered, but the evocation of the sisters’ closeness is solid.

A nicely judged fictional resurrection joins the tribute library accumulating around a literary icon.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25220-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Did you like this book?

more