A suburban Chicago woman whose husband died two years ago, and who's spent 17 years working at a now faltering advertising agency, digs herself out of her grief by tearing up her backyard—to the horror of her neighbors—and planting it with an odd assortment of wilting tomatoes, herbs, and blackberries.
Paige Moresco, who narrates this semiromantic novel with sly wit, is dealing with a teenage son at least as torn by grief as she is and with the recent death of her old-school boss, “Big Frank.” Big Frank has been replaced by his upwardly mobile son, Frankie Jr., who has not only renamed himself Lukas, but has christened Giacomo Advertising and Design “G”—pronounced, he insists, “Guh.” Nyhan (All the Good Parts, 2016, etc.) has fun with a bubbly satire of business culture. Lukas wholeheartedly adopts the unusual philosophy espoused by the winsome British author of The Petra Principles for the New, New Creative Workplace and insists that his increasingly reluctant employees read and reread key passages from the (fictional) tome, which Nyhan quotes with delight. Nyhan nicely differentiates the six employees, including Paige's longtime co-worker Jackie, whose fashion sense is firmly stuck in the 1990s. Outside the office, Paige expands her social circle to include a dental school dropout who runs a booth at a local farmers market, a crotchety neighbor with some hidden redeeming qualities, and a new love interest, a sensitive cop with a welcome sense of humor and a talent for canning tomatoes. With a plot which revolves largely around Lukas' desire to get rid of at least two employees, Nyhan keeps the wheels spinning and eventually finds the best in each of her characters.
A charming if perhaps unrealistically upbeat story of recovery from grief.