cover image The Husbands

The Husbands

Holly Gramazio. Doubleday, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-55061-1

Video game designer Gramazio debuts with a charming speculative novel about a woman’s difficulty settling on a mate. When Lauren, in her early 30s and decidedly single, returns one night to her London flat from a boozy evening out, she’s greeted by a total stranger who says he’s her husband, a claim mysteriously borne out by her photographs and texting history. This is alarming enough, but things get weirder still after Lauren’s supposed husband climbs up the attic ladder to change a light bulb and a different man descends, one who also claims to be her husband. This revolving door of spouses persists for months, and Lauren discovers that various circumstances of her life—her circle of friends, her fashion sense, her career choices, even her apartment decor—alter with each change of partner. Gramazio’s inventiveness and humor save the Groundhog Day–esque plot from tedious repetition (Lauren rejects one man immediately for wearing shoes with individual toes, another for filling a room with Funko Pops). Though Lauren’s drastic action near the novel’s conclusion feels a bit out of sync with the rest of the story, there’s plenty of intelligence and candor in the author’s creative spin on the conundrum of commitment. Gramazio is worth keeping tabs on. (Apr.)