A small, brittle, not entirely focused story of class and lost illusions.


The web of unhappiness ensnaring the children of an upper-class English family fascinates a restless American visitor.

Chilly, and peopled by a cast of more or less damaged characters, Toynton’s (The Oriental Wife, 2011, etc.) third novel spins a downbeat tale exploring the destructive spiral of the Digby family, whose idyllic Devon home is also the heart of its suffering. The house is presided over by matriarch and famous scientist Helena, whose domineering, narcissistic personality has extended a profound influence over her three children. This history is uncovered slowly by an outsider, widowed American Annie Devereaux, who has fled New York after her husband’s sudden death. An unexpected encounter on a London street with Helena’s son, Julian, leads to a relationship that morphs from sex and sharing into withering cruelty, apparently Julian’s familiar pattern. But before the relationship founders, Annie is introduced to Julian’s sister Isabel, who offers another facet of the family—beautiful, intellectual, and wounded. There’s also a third sibling, math prodigy Sasha, whose mental illness is at times an effective weapon against her selfishly controlling mother. Annie, with her Anglophilia and romantic view of Devon, courtesy of her long-absent father, is magnetized by both Isabel and her home. The text is sprinkled with references to Brideshead Revisited, Toynton’s acknowledgement of some parallels between the two stories. But she pulls her own narrative westward, setting up contrasts between Britain and the U.S. and problematical single-family homes on either side of the Atlantic. It’s a finely phrased and observed piece of writing but doesn’t fully characterize its narrator nor break the doomed family out of the mold. Even though the Digby secrets are exposed and Annie moves on to yet another (imperfect) relationship, little emerges in the way of resolution.

A small, brittle, not entirely focused story of class and lost illusions.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59051-921-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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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 6, 2014

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


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: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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