Both the story and its resourceful heroine are fresh, intelligent, and charming.

IMPERSONATION

Ghostwriting for celebrity clients yields more drama than income for a desperate single mom.

“Let me guess: you live in Brooklyn….You went to Vassar or maybe Oberlin….You got your MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop….You shop at Whole Foods.” The feminist political powerhouse Lana Breban and her people think they know all about Allie Lang, who’s traveled by bus from her shabby rented house in Western Massachusetts to discuss the latest snag in their memoir project—but they have her all wrong. About the only things Allie shares with the bougie hipster they imagine her to be are liberal politics and feminism. Allie is a single mother by choice and is raising her son, Cass, almost completely alone except for occasional help from her wandering hippie boyfriend and a nearly senile neighbor. Her last ghostwriting job, the memoir of a high-profile bro from the video game world, was to be so well paid she had planned a trip to Disney World with Cass—but then the book got cancelled due to an avalanche of sexual harassment allegations against its subject. Her cupboard is bare and the rent is overdue when she’s hired to write a book for Lana, a fierce advocate for women’s rights who’s on her way to elected office. The problem is, the book is supposed to be a warm and fuzzy memoir of motherhood, and Lana has been far too busy with her career to do much hands-on parenting at all. She has a staff for that. The heartwarming stories her agent, publisher, and political team are looking for simply don’t exist. What’s Allie supposed to do, substitute her own experiences? Pitlor’s third novel is set during the lead-up to and the aftermath of the 2016 election; she dryly and sometimes poignantly channels the zeitgeist through nuanced characters, settings, and just-right details.

Both the story and its resourceful heroine are fresh, intelligent, and charming.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-791-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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