In this engrossing family tale, an aging man finds new chapters to explore in the book of his life.



In this debut novel, an alienated widower escapes from a retirement village to reclaim his independence in a Chesapeake Bay cabin only to find that human connection is not so easy to shake off.

Champs Noland was never enthusiastic about making a new home in the retirement community of Egret’s Pond, but when his beloved wife, Pat, dies shortly after their move, he becomes furious and disoriented. Refusing to accept lifelong incarceration in what he calls the “expirement home” at “Regret’s Pond” and rejecting his children’s well-meaning attempts to reconcile him to a life of sterile safety, he runs away to the family’s old fishing cabin on the tidewaters of the Sassafras River. But even there he finds disturbing signs of change and loss. His daughter has spruced up the place in hopes of renting it to summer tourists; his boat has been sent to the junkyard; and the rustic, mismatched sanctuary of his youth is unrecognizable. He sets up housekeeping in a tent on the lawn, resisting all attempts by his daughter and two sons to dislodge him. Slowly and unwillingly, Champs begins to accumulate links. Josanne and Larry, his longtime neighbors, poke into his life with annoying concern; his ne’er-do-well son, Jeffrey, comes to live in the cabin along with a scruffy spaniel named Millie; and Champs’ other kids and grandchildren intrude, bringing a chaotic mix of problems and love. In this soup of solitude and family, Champs begins to review his regrets and gradually comes to see that curmudgeonly isolation may not be his only choice. In a narrative as tender and mordant as Champs himself, Heald has created both an exploration of aging and a tribute to a lost way of life, as gentrification threatens the working-class roots of the Chesapeake Bay tidewaters. Though the numerous loose ends may seem too neatly tied up at the end, Champs makes a believable and satisfying transition from an unlikable and obstinately self-centered old man to a thoughtful figure examining his family relationships. The bay itself comes alive through the eyes of an old fisherman.

In this engrossing family tale, an aging man finds new chapters to explore in the book of his life.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73322-680-6

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Glasswing Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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