Novel of the week: Early Morning Riser
A novel of ‘deadpan charm’ and ‘sharp truths’ about small-town life, by Katherine Heiny
Katherine Heiny’s 2017 novel Standard Deviation – about an ill-matched married couple – was “to my mind one of the best, and funniest” of recent years, said India Knight in The Sunday Times. Her new one may be “even better”. It tells the story of Jane, a primary school teacher who moves to a small town in Michigan and begins dating “an exceptionally handsome woodworker”. He is perfect for her in just about every respect, except, as Jane discovers, for one: he has “slept with every sleepable-with woman in the county”. As someone whose “expectations are traditional”, Jane finds this increasingly troubling (though for the reader its effect is “cumulatively hilarious”). Weighty and tender – and at times “profoundly sad” – this is a book that “takes the tiny stuff of everyday life and makes it big and meaningful”.
On its surface this novel “exudes sitcom cosiness”, said Hephzibah Anderson in The Observer. Don’t be fooled: it is a work of “deadpan charm” that offers many “sharp truths” about small-town life. It’s like “Anne Tyler with added grunge”.
4th Estate 336pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99
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