cover image Big Swiss

Big Swiss

Jen Beagin. Scribner, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-982153-08-3

Beagin (Vacuum in the Dark) delivers a delightfully off-kilter romantic comedy set in a Hudson Valley increasingly transformed by transplants from New York City. The protagonist, Greta, is in her 40s, living in a semi-derelict Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, N.Y., with her beloved dog, Piñón. Greta is working as a transcriptionist for a local sex therapist named Om when she is captivated by the voice of one of Om’s patients, a 30-something married woman whom she nicknames Big Swiss for her height and nationality, who used to live in Brooklyn. At the dog park, Greta and Big Swiss (whose real name is Flavia) meet by chance, and romance between the two blossoms, complicated by the fact that Greta is privy to Big Swiss’s most private inner thoughts. While the interpersonal intrigue is palpable, this is also very much a novel about place, full of alternately snide and affectionate commentary about the rapidly gentrifying town. When encountering another of the therapist’s patients and his wife at a coffee shop, Greta notes, “like most people in Hudson, they were better looking than average and dressed like boutique farmers.” Beagin is a gifted storyteller with a flair for the eccentric and a soft spot for a wayward soul. This unconventional love story has a surplus of appeal from page one. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (Feb.)