THE REDEMPTION OF GEORGE BAXTER HENRY

Husband cheats and mother-in-law pounces in this short, profane, cartoonish novel.

George Henry is partner in a Boston law firm, middle-aged and prosperous, long married to Pearl, his high-school sweetheart. Their sex life has dried up, and George has been having an affair with a hottie in his office building. Then Muriel finds out. She is the mother-in-law from hell, a sharp-tongued sitcom character who has never thought George good enough for her baby girl. Muriel was an Oscar-nominated movie star way back when, with a husband very distantly related to Elvis; now she’s a 91-year-old virago with an ultimatum for George: divorce or counseling. (Pearl doesn’t want a divorce but is afraid of her mother.) The counseling option mandates a time out, which is why, as the story begins, the family are flying to a rented chateau in the South of France. As well as Muriel, there are two teenagers, Billy and Iska. Billy is a super-talented rock musician with a cocaine addiction, so George won’t sign off on his contract unless his son stays clean for four weeks. (Ultimatum No. 2). All this sounds, in George’s narration, like a lame stand-up routine; he uses the F word often enough to rob it of all effectiveness. At first Billy steals the show, threatening to jump off the chateau roof unless George relents on the contract, but his dad locks him up and gets the drug out of his system. It’s George’s turn to act up when he meets the gorgeous Carmen. She owns the local patisserie and, guess what, is the world’s biggest Elvis fan. The sex goddess offers herself to George and the two have daily workouts until Muriel catches them in flagrante. Her Polaroids appear to make divorce inevitable until George shows the old biddy his dossier exposing all her career scandals. Game over.  This Irish author’s dire second novel is a major disappointment after his powerful debut (The Last Estate, 2010).

 

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57962-220-6

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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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

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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

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