Is it a spoiler to say there are no limits? At least not to Rudnick’s ability to brilliantly elegize and entertain.

FARRELL COVINGTON AND THE LIMITS OF STYLE

A gay love story for the ages from one of the great comic voices of his generation.

Known for his plays; screenplays; adult and YA novels; and film criticism written under the pseudonym Libby Gelman-Waxner, Rudnick is famously unable to write a single sentence that isn't funny. His latest work, a novel tracing a gay love affair from the 1970s to the near present, features a narrator very close to the author. Nate Reminger, a gay Jewish kid from Piscataway, New Jersey, goes to Yale, writes a play about AIDS (in real life, Rudnick’s Jeffrey) and a movie about nuns (in real life, Sister Act), and bears witness to the devastation wreaked by AIDS on his generation. As Rudnick puts it in the acknowledgments, “This book was written after I’d lived a good long time, and wanted to at least begin to make sense of things.” He also makes clear that the title character, Farrell Covington, is a creation of his imagination, based on a fleeting encounter on a train many years ago. And what a creation he is. Scion of the third richest family in America, his voice is “maddeningly but somehow naturally affected, as if the person had been raised by a bottle of good whiskey and a crystal chandelier.” His “lush, dewy handsomeness” is such that it disconcerts “everyone, even himself.” And yet, soon enough, he appears in Nate’s dorm room, making an announcement: “We’re about to sodomize one another….Does anyone have a manual, or perhaps a brief educational film, with puppets, to help us go about this?” Magic ensues. But just when Nate is getting used to living in la-la land as Farrell’s consort, the evil and deeply homophobic Covington paterfamilias appears from Wichita to shatter his bliss. This is not the end of the relationship but the beginning of the war, as every possible opponent to gay conjugal happiness takes its turn with the couple over a 50-year swath of the American cultural landscape.

Is it a spoiler to say there are no limits? At least not to Rudnick’s ability to brilliantly elegize and entertain.

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 9781668004678

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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HAPPY PLACE

Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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