Harriet Evans, Author Downtown Press $15 (437p) ISBN 978-1-4165-0395-8
This debut novel from Evans (a former editorial director at Penguin UK) opens with a late-twentysomething female British narrator and a crazy family holiday dinner, but quickly distinguishes itself from the usual Bridget Jones-esque fare. At the Walters' cozy Christmas in their crumbling countryside manor, trouble starts when Uncle Mike shows up with a blonde, buxom American wife, and normally affable Tom gets stinking drunk and declares his homosexuality. But then the big news hits: Kepper House-the aforementioned cozy manor-will have to be sold to fund one family member's shady dealings. So protagonist Lizzy Walter-a plucky Londoner nursing a broken heart and contemplating a move to L.A. as a way to leave behind painful memories-sets off on a mission to save the family home. Lizzy juggles her house-saving schemes with her romantic entanglements-she's dating the younger brother of the boy who broke her heart-but it's the familial characters like eccentric Aunt Chin and Chin's younger Australian fiance, and a mother and father ever-eager to hit the sauce that give the book life and depth. Charts (one rates the ""level of weird behavior"" of family members, another lists fundraising possibilities) and hyperactive capitalization (Lizzy washes ""the Things that Are Too Big to Go in the Dishwasher"") skew cutesy, but otherwise the story is set in solid writing that manages to be fun without dipping into dumbed-down frivolity.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Paperback - 437 pages - 9781416503958
Other - 448 pages - 9781416531319