In Foote’s debut novel, childhood friends Lilly Roche and Curtis Walker reconnect and find love amid the heartbreak of their pasts and the uncertainty of their circumstances.
There aren’t many surprises here. Two endearing protagonists, who are obviously meant for each other, fall in love. A crusty, curmudgeonly elderly gentleman provides color commentary and helps push the two lovebirds together, though family secrets, miscommunications and past lovers are strewn along the bumpy road to happiness. There are even adorable dogs. However, despite the story’s seemingly formulaic nature, the novel is heartfelt and engaging thanks to Foote’s cleareyed prose and the obvious affection she has for her characters. Lilly Roche is still mourning the long-ago death of her mother (the Annie of the title) and the more recent loss of her fiancé, who dumped her close to their wedding date. Her counterpart, Curtis Walker, is engaged in a series of meaningless relationships, never quite able to figure out what’s missing from his life. Though it seems clear Lilly and Curtis is each the cure for what ails the other, watching the characters figure it out for themselves proves to be a lovely, enjoyable journey. As they tend to Curtis’s ailing uncle Bob, who is also Lilly’s family friend, the lovers meet each other in a remarkably organic way, wrestling with their very realistic concerns about love and loss together. Not every character in the novel feels as real as Lilly, Curtis, and Bob, though. For example, without a fully realized portrayal of his motives and feelings, Lilly’s brother Jack comes across as angry and resentful. Robin, the woman whom Curtis is casually dating before Lilly enters his life, also seems a bit like a stereotype of a shallow, cold-hearted socialite. Yet, on the whole, the novel succeeds at telling a winning story due to the likability of the couple at its core. Like comfort food, the familiarity of the plot and the warmth of feeling toward its characters make it an overall satisfying read.
Sweet, earnest women’s fiction novel with appealing characters.