cover image Vince and Joy

Vince and Joy

Lisa Jewell, . . Harper, $14.95 (502pp) ISBN 978-0-06-113746-4

Vince Mellon and Joy Downer meet as late-blooming teenagers on a beach vacation, and lose their virginity to one another, then reunite as adults kept apart by bad timing and miscommunication in the winning fourth novel by British bestseller Jewell (A Friend of the Family; Thirtynothing ). The first misstep occurs when Joy's vacation is cut short, and the goodbye note (including her contact information) she leaves for Vince outside his window is rendered illegible by the elements. Seven years later, Vince's roommate's wandering cat finds its way to Joy's apartment, which miraculously happens to be around the corner. Too bad for Vince that Joy is about to get married, albeit to a man she isn't attracted to. The narrative takes flight at this point, as Jewell weaves a history of Vince and Joy settling for the wrong people—Vince has a child with a woman who cheats on him, Joy's marriage fails—before fate intervenes one last time. Jewell's lively prose and amusing observations ("They talked about sex like two dieters circling a pile of profiteroles") effortlessly guide the story toward a satisfying ending. (Oct.)