Full of insights and pleasures.

FIVE TUESDAYS IN WINTER

The first collection of stories from an acclaimed novelist.

King, who won the inaugural Kirkus Prize for Fiction for Euphoria (2014), can make you fall in love with a character fast, especially the smart, vulnerable, often painfully self-conscious adolescent protagonists featured in several of the 10 stories collected here, half previously published, half new. In "Creature," the fetching opener, 14-year-old Carol is hired to be a live-in mother's helper by a rich woman whose children and grandchildren are coming for a two-week visit, a woman so entitled she breezily renames her Cara because she likes it better. Under the influence of Jane Eyre, Carol is swept away by the charms of the woman's newly married son, who's arrived without his wife. "You cannot know these blistering feelings," she writes to her friend, "you have not yet met your Rochester." As in Father of the Rain (2010), alcoholism and mental illness shadow many characters' lives. Carol has a father in rehab, while the unnamed boy narrator of "When in the Dordogne" has parents who have left for France following the father's nervous breakdown and failed suicide attempt. His babysitters are a pair of college boys with whom he has so much more fun than usual that he dreams that his parents will get in a car crash and never return. The protagonists of other stories show King's range, among them a gay man who receives a surprise visit from his homophobic college roommate, a Frenchwoman living in the U.S. whose husband has abruptly moved on, a German woman taking her bratty daughter on holiday to an unpromising inn on the North Sea, a 91-year-old visiting his young granddaughter in the hospital. The final story, "The Man at the Door," about frustrations of the writing process, also tells of its joys: "This morning, however, without warning, a sentence rose, a strange unexpected chain of words meeting the surface in one long gorgeous arc....Words flooded her and her hand ached to keep up with them and above it all her mind was singing here it is here it is and she was smiling."

Full of insights and pleasures.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8021-5876-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

THE SUMMER PLACE

When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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