This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch: The Joy of Loving Something—Anything—Like Your Life Depends on It

Tabitha Carvan. Putnam, $17 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-593-42191-8

A surprise midlife obsession with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch provides the occasion for musings on passion, aging, and identity in this spirited debut from essayist Carvan. She describes how she became fixated on Cumberbatch after watching an episode of Sherlock, stockpiling her desk with ephemera featuring the actor’s face and watching his television and film performances multiple times over. The author details her investigation into her infatuation, including how her passion revealed to her the toll that motherhood and midlife had taken on her sense of self (“That’s the joke of motherhood: you don’t get to have children and be yourself”). Carvan shares her conversations with middle-aged (and older) fans, some of whom refer to themselves as “Cumberbitches,” including a high-ranking corporate executive and a retail worker who moonlights as a narrator of fanfiction audiobooks. Carvan’s self-aware approach wrings the absurdity out of her story to hilarious effect while touching on the realities of motherhood and fandom: “It’s not just about what we love, but how that love figures in our lives, and how it makes us feel.” The result is a weird-in-the-best-way account of self-discovery that brims with humor and insight. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell. (May)
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