Emotional upsets and surprises are interleaved with eccentricity in this latest slice of offbeat Englishness.

ONE DAY I SHALL ASTONISH THE WORLD

Susan Faye Warren—wife, mother, worker, and friend—shares the events of her adult life, interspersed with much deadpan detail, in Stibbe’s latest comic/domestic dispatch.

With her singular voice and deep roots in the English psyche, Stibbe has carved out a niche for oddball female narrators set against quirky provincial settings. Her fourth novel follows this pattern, tracing Susan’s interior and exterior landscapes as she traverses three decades of marriage to Roy, her parenting of their daughter, Honey, and accounts of an on/off friendship with the unpredictable Norma. The setting is England’s smallest county, Rutland, specifically the town of Brankham, where Roy and Susan meet while she’s studying English at the University of Rutland while holding down a Saturday job at the Pin Cushion, a haberdashery owned by the Pavlous, Norma’s parents. But over the years, the marriage devolves into something “that neither Roy or I seem to care about one jot,” while Honey grows into an unusual child, although devoted and loyal to Grace, the surprise sister Roy turns out to have fathered with his landlady before meeting Susan. Meanwhile, there are strange goings-on in the community, some of them sexual, and Norma becomes increasingly less reliable as she achieves enviable-seeming successes, professionally and personally. When Norma takes as her second husband the university’s vice chancellor, for whom Susan works, the women’s friendship becomes thornier still, as Norma blocks Susan’s plans and steals her ideas. But is all what it seems? Stibbe’s new novel, with its long time span and variable, sometimes chilly relationships, offers a cooler vision than some of her earlier works, but the trademark tone, humor, nostalgic detail, and skewed perspective remain as reliably diverting as ever.

Emotional upsets and surprises are interleaved with eccentricity in this latest slice of offbeat Englishness.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 9780316430340

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 43

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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

Did you like this book?

more