Named one of 2019’s most anticipated reads by LitHub and Entertainment Weekly, Bainbridge Isalnder Evan James’ new novel “Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe” is set during a single summer on the Rock, which features heavily in the book, almost as a character itself.
The inimitable — some might say incorrigible — Frank Widdicombe is suffering from a deep depression. Or so his wife, Carol, believes. But Carol is convinced that their new island home — Willowbrook Manor — is just the thing to cheer her husband up.
And so begins a whirlwind summer as their house becomes the epicenter of multiple social dramas involving the family, their friends, and a host of new acquaintances.
The Widdicombes’ son, Christopher, is mourning a heartbreak after a year abroad in Italy. Their personal assistant, Michelle, begins a romance with preppy screenwriter Bradford, who also happens to be Frank’s tennis partner.
Meanwhile, a local named Marvelous Matthews is hired to create a garden at the manor — and is elated to find Gracie Sloane, bewitching self-help author, in residence as well.
When this alternately bumbling and clever cast of characters comes together, Willowbrook transforms into a circus of uncovered secrets, preposterous misunderstandings, and irrepressible passions.
The author will visit Eagle Harbor Book Company at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4 to celebrate the book’s release.
Also, he will stop by Elliott Bay Book Company (1521 10th Ave. in Seattle) at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 7.
James is an award-winning writer whose personal essays and fiction have appeared in such publications as the Oxford American,Travel + Leisure, and The New York Times, among others.
He received an MFA in Fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has received fellowships from Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Carson McCullers Center, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, the University of Iowa, and the Lambda Literary Writers’ Retreat, where he was a 2017 Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow. He has taught at the University of Iowa, the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.
Born in Seattle, a graduate of Bainbridge High School, he now lives in New York and teaches creative writing and English at Pierrepont School in Westport, Connecticut.