cover image On Fire Island

On Fire Island

Jane L. Rosen. Berkley, $17 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-54610-9

In Rosen’s poignant and humorous latest (after A Shoe Story), the ghost of a recently deceased woman observes her loved ones as they try to move on. Editor Julia and writer Ben Morse had an idyllic marriage before Julia died from cancer. Ben, devastated, ditches the shiva service at their New York City apartment for a trip to Fire Island, where he and Julia shared many happy moments. Julia follows him and witnesses their friends react to her absence and continue their lives without her. As well, Ben finds companionship and a foil in Shep, who owned the Morses’ house for many years with her late wife and can’t seem to stay away. Meanwhile, Julia’s best friend Renee, whose dull husband recently ditched her for his assistant, finds comfort and affection in Gabe, a drummer 20 years her junior (“a plumber!” her teen son Matty exclaims when they meet, pretending he didn’t hear correctly). Rosen has a winning sense of humor, bringing levity not to awkward and painful moments, and she packs the narrative with vivid details of beach life and city life. This is a treat. Agent: Eve MacSweeney, Fletcher and Co. (May)