cover image The Most

The Most

Jessica Anthony. Little, Brown, $18.99 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-0-316-57637-6

Anthony (Enter the Aardvark) examines a fraying marriage in her sensational latest. Kathleen Beckett, a former college tennis champion, lives with her husband, Virgil, and two children in the suburbs of 1950s Newark, Del. One Sunday, Kathleen tells Virgil to take the children to church without her. The narrative spans the rest of the day and alternates between Kathleen’s and Virgil’s points of view, gradually revealing the sources of their tension. It turns out Virgil recently ended an affair with a woman named Imogene Monson, and, as the day progresses, Kathleen pieces together the truth while Virgil contends with Imogene’s attempt to win him back. Meanwhile, Virgil’s father digs up dirt on Kathleen, and hints to her that he knows about her affair with her high school tennis instructor. More juicy revelations and surprising twists ensue as Anthony unspools each spouse’s side of the story, and suspense mounts as the clock ticks toward their reunion at home. What makes this exceptional, however, are the distinctive details, such as a tennis strategy called “the most,” inspired by the bombing of a bridge in Czechoslovakia during WWI, in which a player lures their opponent toward the net and then hits a devastating passing shot. Readers won’t want to put this down. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)