Serious Sweet

A.L. Kennedy. Little A, $24.95 (574p) ISBN 978-1-5039-3651-5
Prolific Scottish novelist Kennedy (Day) has always excelled at depicting the kinship of misfits, and her latest initially fits that bill in its tale of two hard-luck Londoners finding love over the course of a single hectic day. Readers first meet divorced civil servant Jon Sigurdsson as he tries in vain to revive a dying bird, and the rest of his life is similarly fruitless; he's working on behalf of corrupt politicians who have gradually worn him—and his conscience—down to a nub. Jon's only release is corresponding under the name Corwynn August with anonymous young women. One of these pen pals happens to be Meg Williams, 45 and doing accounts for a dog kennel after her career as an accountant left her bankrupt. Kennedy follows Jon and Meg independently through the nightmare of their daily routines—Meg trying to stay a step ahead of her alcoholism while sustaining herself on Mr. August's letters, Jon beset by ministers, journalists, and his emotional young daughter, Becky—until these two strangers meet at last and try to salvage what remains under their damaged exteriors. Unfortunately, nearly every aspect of the novel is drawn out for far too long, up until the inevitable meet-cute that is the story's sole propulsion. Kennedy punctuates each chapter with idyllic scenes of public transit and strangers drifting through one another's metropolitan lives, and the point is well-taken, but there's too little payoff for this otherwise uneventful and diffuse kitchen-sink romance. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Paperback - 479 pages - 978-1-5039-3650-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-3608-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-5318-3607-8
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