A cozy, hopeful escape that will make readers laugh, cry, and feel inspired.

THE SWITCH

A grieving British woman and her grandmother switch homes and lives in an attempt to shake things up.

Leena Cotton knows she hasn’t exactly been herself since the death of her beloved sister, but after she has a panic attack in a big meeting, she’s shocked that her boss insists she take a two-month sabbatical. The absolute last thing Leena wants is a break—with so much free time, she might actually have to confront the way her relationship with her mother has deteriorated since her sister’s death. But there is one family member Leena still adores—her grandmother Eileen, who’s incredibly active in her small town even at the age of 79. Eileen’s main focus is finding a new man after her husband left her, but Hamleigh-in Harksdale, population 168, doesn’t boast many eligible bachelors. Leena and her grandmother hatch an unlikely plan that just might help both of them—they’ll switch lives. Leena will live in Eileen’s charming, fairy-tale–worthy cottage in Hamleigh while Eileen will stay in Leena’s London flat with her roommates. Leena will oversee all of Eileen’s many projects while Eileen can experience the big-city adventures she missed out on while she was unhappily married. Soon, Eileen is going on dates and adjusting to city life while Leena handles Neighborhood Watch meetings and attempts to fit in with a crowd of mostly elderly people. Although there’s slightly less romance than in O’Leary’s debut, The Flatshare (2019), this novel is full of the charm and warmth readers expect, with an increased focus on family bonds. Leena’s attempts to deal with her sister’s death and heal her relationship with her mother are quite moving while the eccentric cast of town residents and her quirky London roommates provide plenty of laughs. But Eileen, as a nearly-80-year-old woman who’s allowed to have hopes, dreams, and a vibrant sex life, truly shines. She never gives up on helping others or finding her own happily-ever-after, proving that it’s never too late to start over.

A cozy, hopeful escape that will make readers laugh, cry, and feel inspired.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-25076-986-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A novel of capacious intelligence and plenty of page-turning emotional drama.

BEAUTIFUL WORLD, WHERE ARE YOU

Two erudite Irishwomen struggle with romance against the backdrop of the Trump/Brexit years.

Eileen and Alice have been friends since their university days. Now in their late 20s, Eileen works as an editorial assistant at a literary magazine in Dublin. Alice is a famous novelist recovering from a psychiatric hospitalization and staying in a large empty rectory on the west coast of Ireland. Since Alice’s breakdown, the two have kept in touch primarily through lengthy emails that alternate between recounting their romantic lives and working through their angst about the current social and political climate. (In one of these letters, Eileen laments that the introduction of plastic has ruined humanity’s aesthetic calibration and in the next paragraph, she’s eager to know if Alice is sleeping with the new man she’s met.) Eileen has spent many years entangled in an occasionally intimate friendship with her teenage crush, a slightly older man named Simon who is a devout Catholic and who works in the Irish Parliament as an assistant. As Eileen and Simon’s relationship becomes more complicated, Alice meets Felix, a warehouse worker who is unsure what to make of her fame and aloofness. In many ways, this book, a work of both philosophy and romantic tragicomedy about the ways people love and hurt one another, is exactly the type of book one would expect Rooney to write out of the political environment of the past few years. But just because the novel is so characteristic of Rooney doesn’t take anything away from its considerable power. As Alice herself puts it, “Humanity on the cusp of extinction [and] here I am writing another email about sex and friendship. What else is there to live for?”

A novel of capacious intelligence and plenty of page-turning emotional drama.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-60260-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

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BILLY SUMMERS

The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.

“He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too.

Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982173-61-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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