cover image The Half Moon

The Half Moon

Mary Beth Keane. Scribner, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-982172-60-2

Keane (Ask Again, Yes) takes a nuanced look at a troubled marriage during a fraught week of blizzards and power outages in a predominantly Irish New York City suburb. “Handsome and charming” Malcolm Gephardt, 45, finally recognizes that “middle age is looming,” and that the Half Moon, the bar he owns, is in dire straits. His wife, Jess, an attorney, left him several months earlier, having been worn out by seven years of failed fertility treatments and discouraged by Malcolm’s refusal to include her in financial decisions. He has held out hope that Jess will come back, until he learns she’s involved with a fellow lawyer who has three young children. Keane surrounds her main characters with a crew of nosy people who regularly check in on Malcolm (“part of him suspected these friends, grown men, all in their mid-forties, loved the excuse to leave their families on a Saturday afternoon”), and livens the proceedings with juicy subplots about a shady loan with terms enforced by even shadier goons, the mysterious disappearance of a bar patron, and Malcolm’s mother, who, unbeknownst to Malcolm, has been carrying on an affair with the neighbor who plows her driveway. Keane pulls off a quiet, contemplative novel about the dwindling time for second chances. Agent: Chris Calhoun, Chris Calhoun Agency. (May)