Profound yet often quite funny, keenly observed, and deeply affecting.

EDIE RICHTER IS NOT ALONE

A tragicomic exploration of the collateral damage of Alzheimer's disease.

"Everyone makes mistakes," says Edie Richter to her wilderness guide, hired for a short trip into the Australian Outback. "I guess it's just learning which ones you can live with," he replies. This conversation, which comes about two-thirds of the way into Handler's striking debut, encapsulates one aspect of the far-reaching existential crisis this loving daughter suffers in the wake of her father's early-onset Alzheimer's diagnosis. When it began, Edie was newly married and living in Boston; she and her husband, Oren, moved back to her hometown of San Francisco to assist with his care. Her mother and younger sister have sold the family auto-parts business, but they're still getting help from her father's longtime employee, Igor, "a gay Croatian who loved Neil Diamond and wore head to toe denim." Amusing details like this, rendered in sharply wrought sentences and brief paragraphs, keep this story of lost moorings light on its feet. "I didn't plan on ending my father's life," Edie explains, "if you can call it a life when a person has essentially become a thing."  She also didn't plan on moving to Western Australia, but when her husband's oil-company employer offers a one-year transfer shortly after her father's death, she tells him to accept, thinking maybe she can find her bearings in the middle of nowhere. Ah, poor Edie. Handler gets it right from the title on out. Edie is definitely not alone. Her plight is one many readers will respond to deeply and perhaps even be soothed by. Along those lines, the depiction of Edie's relationship with her somewhat clueless husband, who wants so much to help, hits the perfect note.

Profound yet often quite funny, keenly observed, and deeply affecting.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1951213176

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Unnamed Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8272-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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