Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe

Evan James. Atria, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9961-5
James’s debut blends saucy wit with a fresh voice as it outlines a summer with a family that’s so neurotic they’re almost normal. Frank Widdicombe; his wife, Carol; and his son, Christopher, have moved into a beautiful home called Willowbrook in the Pacific Northwest, where they indulge in a life of ease with a few chosen friends. Michelle Briggs, Carol’s personal assistant, is efficient in her nebulous work of “showing up in order to serve as witness to the Widdicombes’ minidramas and well-heeled existential crises.” Michelle captures the interest of the urbane Bradford Dearborne, a young family friend back from a trip to California funded by his father, while self-help guru Gracie Sloane, visiting Carol for the summer, eventually warms to the Widdicombe’s new gardener, a recovering alcoholic named Marvelous Matthews. Frank, a retired near-professional tennis player with a psychology degree, embarks on writing a self-help book, while his wife throws her energy into the interior design of the home, and gay, haughty Christopher, home from a year abroad, watches his parents with artistic, youthful derision. The dynamic characters will satisfy many tastes, and it’s with a writerly sleight-of-hand that the peculiar humor and quirky truths of family, friendship, and love are revealed. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/15/2019
Release date: 03/26/2019
Genre: Fiction
Book - 978-1-5011-9963-9
Downloadable Audio - 288 pages - 978-1-5082-8419-2
Library Binding - 400 pages - 978-1-4328-6537-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-8421-5
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-5011-9962-2
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