A well-written, well-paced novel that unfolds slowly, hinting at the events that broke apart a young woman's life.

LADY SUNSHINE

After she unexpectedly inherits a remote Northern California coastal estate that once belonged to her musician uncle, a woman in her late 30s must make peace with the memories of her lost family.

In the summer of 1979, Jackie is an angry teenager. She hates her private school, the fellow students who call her Supertramp, her father’s new wife, and the fact that her new stepmother is besotted with purchasing everything for her in various cheerful shades of yellow. When her father and stepmother decide on a belated summerlong European honeymoon, Jackie makes a push to stay with her uncle Graham, Aunt Angela, and cousin Willa at the Sandcastle, their rambling Northern California estate, where musicians and their families come and go. Once she arrives, she realizes that her godlike uncle, a once-famous folk musician, is the sun around which all the people in his life orbit. In 1999, Jackie is once again at the estate, clearing out the house and its many cabins after unexpectedly inheriting it from her aunt. No longer angry, Jackie is an elementary school music teacher in Boston. She's devoted to her students, but she's walled herself off emotionally from everyone else, including her fiance, Paul. Much like that idyllic summer of 1979, in the summer of '99, the estate is full of musicians and people and laughter, as music producer Shane Ingram, a friend of Angela’s, records a new album of Graham’s unpublished work in his legendary basement studio. Author Doan has created a story that is half set in each world as Jackie clears out the house for sale in 1999 while working through her memories of the one idyllic summer she spent drenched in love, happiness, and sunlight before everything went very wrong. Doan’s descriptions of the rugged landscape in Humboldt County create a visually rich backdrop for her characters to inhabit.

A well-written, well-paced novel that unfolds slowly, hinting at the events that broke apart a young woman's life.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-525-80467-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Graydon House

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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

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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