A stunning book—a balm for our times—containing the incredible gift of the everyday.

EMERGENCY

A PASTORAL NOVEL

A woman weathering quarantine isolation in her urban home reinhabits a childhood spent in the fields and woods of North Yorkshire.

This unusual novel of minute, lush observation opens on a spring day in the narrator’s distant childhood. Looking down into the quarry at the edge of her small village, the narrator sees a sheet of the clay wall drop away and expose the interior of a vole’s burrow to a kestrel floating on an air current high above the quarry’s flooded floor. As the narrator follows, the vole flees from its ruined home and out into the open, where it freezes in full view of the now interested kestrel, who tilts in her flight to hover above the creature, ready to drop. The narrator’s attention to the two animals—meticulous, alert, and mature—“draw[s] a direct line between them, like a lift between two floors of a building,” and she feels “a sense of love arise inside me, as huge and widespread as the vole was small and specific, and it occurred to me that I could rescue him.” This small emergency tilts the narrator into a spill of memories that flow from the intimate and particular character of the space and time she has inhabited—the fields, tamed forests, pastures, paddocks, and quiet, seemingly eternal springs of the North Yorkshire countryside. However, as the title suggests, this is not a novel of rugged, wild individualism but rather a pastoral in which the landscape reflects at every turn the imprint of the human world in its management, exploitation, or collaborative reimagining. As an unnamed, but familiar, pandemic rages through the city outside her window, the adult author of these childhood remembrances ponders the interconnectedness of all worlds, from the minute wisps of spiders’ webs that break as she passes to the line of ancient hollies planted to mark out a path for winter travelers in the century past to the bundle of wires that dangle exposed on the wall outside her window that form literal lines of connection between all the isolated boxes of her neighbors’ own pandemic-stunted lives. The world that is crafted in this novel is like our own world: filled with joys and sorrows, death and renewal, the sublime and the literal filth that turns to soil beneath our feet. Stunning in its intimacy and the precise quality of its recall, the book nevertheless manages to make its primary business the act of inclusion, bringing us into the sense of our separate lives as being “formed and renewed by many minds and mindless forces…the space itself degraded and vanished when these connections failed.”

A stunning book—a balm for our times—containing the incredible gift of the everyday.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66260-147-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Astra House

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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