The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks

Julie Valerie. Lake Union, $14.95 trade paper (408p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0799-3
The second installment in the Village of Primm series (after Holly Banks Full of Angst) wraps a mystery in bubbly domestic fiction, to mixed results. Following Holly’s move east with her husband and five-year-old daughter from Colorado to the fancy Village of Primm, family dog Struggle begins digging up clues to a long-standing town mystery involving a stolen astrolabe and the true borders of the town. The story line plays out against Holly’s efforts to organize her home, from dumping items in “panic baskets” to keeping a bullet journal and launching a production company out of a “she shed.” Along the way, she works to ensure her daughter is on par with the other kindergartners at Primm Academy, deals with her mother’s health woes, and tries to understand why her husband is acting unsupportive. These story lines, connected by the idea that “the life-changing magic of knowing life was messy and being good with it,” vie for attention in the shambolic plot involving intrigue and town rivalries over the astrolabe’s missing tympana. The novel succeeds in its depiction of women’s emotional labor, which Holly recognizes is undervalued compared to her husband’s career. Readers who can get past the chaotic plot will appreciate the way Valerie handles her themes of luck, fate, and perseverance. Agent: Joëlle Delbourgo, Joëlle Delbourgo Assoc. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/01/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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