This imaginative, alluring novel from an acclaimed Canadian author unspools steadily and grippingly and may earn Gowdy many...

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LITTLE SISTER

The electrifying story of a cinema owner who finds herself living another woman’s life whenever it storms.

Something strange is happening to Rose Bowan, a woman in her mid-30s who, with her mother, runs the old Toronto repertory movie theater they inherited from Rose’s father. Every time a thunderstorm rolls in Rose finds herself transported into the body of another woman, a “small, kinetic” book editor named Harriet Smith, who Rose quickly ascertains is having an affair with a ruggedly sexy married man with whom she works. Harriet’s moodily dramatic, mildly dangerous life could not be more different from Rose’s. Rose lives with her mother, whose symptoms of dementia are rapidly increasing, and has been dating the same unexciting boyfriend for years, a shorter-than-she-is meteorologist with a lazy eye who is 10 years Rose's senior and resembles the singer Paul Simon. Gowdy (Helpless, 2007, etc.) describes Victor as “much the same” as Rose in that he's “a serious, steady person, a person of strict routines.” But Rose’s equilibrium is completely upset by her recurring episodes, and she finds herself drawn not only to them, but to searching for Harriet outside of them as well. What’s going on? Are Rose’s out-of-body (and into another) episodes a side effect of “silent migraines,” as Victor posits? Are they extremely and eerily vivid dreams? Or are they something harder to explain? And what, if anything, do Rose’s episodes have to do with the childhood death of her younger sister, Ava? Gowdy sucks readers into this suspenseful, supernatural story like a strong wind in a squall. We are right there with Rose as she tries to piece together her disconnected experiences as Harriet into a cohesive picture and to take action on Harriet’s behalf. Ultimately, the episodes lead Rose to more clearly understand her own experiences and to act on her own behalf as well.

This imaginative, alluring novel from an acclaimed Canadian author unspools steadily and grippingly and may earn Gowdy many new fans stateside.

Pub Date: May 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941040-60-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tin House

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love.

THE STATIONERY SHOP

Sixty years after her first love failed to meet her in a market square, Roya Khanom Archer finally has the chance to see him. But will he break her heart again?

Back in 1953, she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl, raised in a progressive home in Tehran, where her father encouraged Roya and her sister, Zari, to take advantage of the recent reforms that allowed women to go to university. While he hoped she might become a chemist, Roya loved escaping into novels, which sent her to Mr. Fakhri’s stationery and book store every Tuesday afternoon. There she first sees Bahman Aslan, a breathless young man already well-known as a political activist. Kamali (Together Tea, 2013) sets Roya and Bahman’s love against the tumultuous days of Mohammad Mossadegh’s rise and fall as prime minister of Iran, infusing their affair with political passion and an increasingly frantic sense of the shortness of time. Tuesday after Tuesday, the couple falls more deeply in love, and Bahman soon proposes marriage to Roya. While Roya’s family welcomes Bahman—although Zari warns Roya that his heart cannot be trusted—Bahman’s emotionally volatile mother refuses to accept the engagement, because she has already chosen Shahla, the daughter of a man closely allied with the shah, for her son. Roya determines to weather her future mother-in-law’s storms, but when Bahman and his family disappear, she can only turn to Mr. Fakhri for help. Although he cannot tell Roya where Bahman has gone, Mr. Fakhri offers to exchange secret letters between the lovers. The plan works, and the two even plan to elope, but Bahman does not show up in Sepah Square. Sixty years later, Bahman’s confession will finally expose the secrets that cast shadows over the lovers so long ago.

A sweeping romantic tale of thwarted love.

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0748-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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