cover image Everlasting Lane

Everlasting Lane

Andrew Lovett. Melville House (Random, dist.), $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-61219-380-9

British author Lovett’s engrossing debut, partly based on events from his own childhood, follows 10-year-old Peter Lambert, who is uprooted by his mother to go live in a “dusty and undisturbed” cottage in the Amberley countryside in the mid-1970s after his WWII veteran father’s untimely death. Even more confounding than his new environment are his mother’s decision to change her name to Kat; her reference to the fact that he’d lived in the town before; and the plucky, dominating behavior of Anna-Marie, the girl next door. Peter befriends Anna-Marie along with Tommie Winslow, a schoolmate who eventually competes with Peter for the girl’s attentions. The unexpected trio bring Everlasting Lane to vibrant life along with a host of peripheral characters, including harsh grade school teacher Mr. Gale and a few local eccentrics such as reclusive Mr. Merridew, a hermit living in a wooded cabin, and Dr. Todd, a secretive physician who becomes Kat’s special friend. While Peter narrates the story with the naive, goofy curiosity of a young boy, there are also thin swaths of the bitterness and angst more befitting his aggrieved mother. She’s hiding a secret behind one of their cottage’s locked doors, and it becomes one of Peter’s burdensome obsessions. Familial melodrama and confusion are resolved and explained as Lovett’s creative tale broadens into an exploratory, discovery-filled journey for three zany outcasts—“a fluttering rabble of butterflies,” each taking in the world one revelation at a time. (Jan.)