cover image The Widow’s Guide 
to Sex and Dating

The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating

Carole Radziwill. Holt, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9884-6

Claire Byrne comes piteously undone after Charlie, her imperious husband and a best-selling sexologist, is beaned by a knockoff 190-pound bronze sculpture in reality star Radziwill’s delicious debut novel, a return to the subject matter of her memoir, What Remains, which explored Radziwill’s reaction to the early death of her husband. The death of Claire’s middle-aged husband forces her, a 32-year-old, emotionally immature aspiring writer, to re-evaluate a life spent in Charlie’s shadow. “You’ve never really been alone,” best friend Ethan tells her. “You got married at twenty-two.... Before you could be a sun, you signed on to be a moon.” Claire promptly falls for Holly-wood heartthrob Jack Huxley, whom Charlie was writing a book about, but discovers that Charlie’s biggest critic, book reviewer Ben Hawthorne, might just be the one to repair her broken heart and dreams. Along this circuitous path to happiness, there will be 35 mostly gratuitous rules (“#19: Never kiss a man who will look better than you in the morning) and a sly nod to Radziwill’s day job as one of the Real Housewives of New York. But beyond the camp and predictable, there is a poignant tale of loss and love. “Sex is one thing. Sex is easy.... The trouble is those other two: hope and its mean cousin, heartbreak,” Claire finds. Agent: Michael Carlisle, Inkwell Management. (Nov.)