Kemp writes with a careful restraint that makes the emotional explosions all the more powerful when they come.


Centering her first novel around a rural French village and the young Parisian who has come there as a traveling nurse, British author Kemp writes about the cost of suppressed passions—love, guilt, revenge—and the risk of secrecy.

Twenty-four-year-old Marguerite Demers is caring for the elderly, gravely ill Jérôme Lanvier at his worn-down estate outside the village of Saint-Sulpice. Marguerite has taken the job to avoid Paris, her well-to-do parents, and guilty memories concerning her sister, Cassandre, four years younger than her, who came down with meningitis when Marguerite was 15. Marguerite’s nursing career is a form of repentance for not having saved her sister. Secretive, obsessively self-blaming Marguerite relishes isolation, but she is sucked into incendiary undercurrents roiling within the village and inside Jérôme’s family. Crises arise from crossed purposes, not simple misunderstandings; Kemp doesn't let her characters off the hook that easily: They make choices, often unwise, that affect not only themselves, but others. Their opposing needs, desires, and angers tighten like a noose around the characters’ lives. Marguerite allows herself to become a pawn in the hostilities between her difficult patient and his adult sons. Jérôme is no stock literary curmudgeon with a soft heart. Always a bullying tyrant to his three resentful, still needy sons, Jérôme knows they hate him and hates them back. Meanwhile, Suki Lacourse, a local villager’s Iranian wife, tries to befriend Marguerite as a fellow outsider. Suki harbors deep bitterness toward the local women who never accepted her, in particular Brigitte Brochon, whose husband, Henri, rejected Suki’s sexual advances years before. Desperately in love with Henri, aware she is not his equal in looks or brains, Brigitte feels threatened by attractive, smart women like Suki and now Marguerite. But Henri, the one man in town who has won Jerome’s respect, cannot escape his own secret and accompanying shame. When he and Marguerite come together, the repercussions are disastrous.

Kemp writes with a careful restraint that makes the emotional explosions all the more powerful when they come.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984877-83-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...


Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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