Mitchard (A Theory of Relativity, 2001, etc.) follows a year, month by month, in the life of a 43-year-old widow on Cape Cod as she runs her business, raises her son, and starts a relationship.
True Dickinson lives in a beautiful house with her son Guy, ten, who adores her. Her business is thriving—she arranges for a year’s worth of whimsical gifts to be sent to new babies (hence the title). And she is surrounded by devoted friends and family. Still, she’s lonely. Enter Hank Bannister, the much younger and very handsome owner of a local Creole restaurant. The two meet in February and get married by April. True’s mother, who inconveniently lives in True’s guesthouse, clearly disapproves, but Guy goes through only a month of adjusting before he completely adores Hank. After Hank’s parents visit from Louisiana, True’s realization that Hank is part black causes a little stir but not nearly as much as does True’s ongoing insecurity about her age and looks. There are arguments and misunderstandings, and lots of sex. By August, True is pregnant and planning an expansion of her business based on Hank’s idea for baskets to college kids, but after 9/11, financing dries up. By October, because of his continuing platonic involvement with an old girlfriend, True has thrown Hank out of the house, and Hank has legally adopted Guy so that he and True cross paths repeatedly—especially when Guy gets a part in a local theater production and Hank helps coach him. But True’s pride keeps her from trying for reconciliation. In January, True and Hank’s baby is born and True discovers that her mother has been hiding both Hank’s phone calls and his letters of love and apology. At year’s end, True and Hank are working to get their marriage back on track.
A whiny romance and a long year indeed.