WellRead May Selection: Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

One of the upshots of choosing just one book a month is that our selections often end up being quite weighty reads. Which is all well and good, we don’t really like our books any other way around here, but we recognise that every once in a while, the book you need to read is one that could be compared to, say, "nibbling on the prettiest, most delicious biscuit" or, better yet, one that "sparkles like wine sipped with friends under backyard fairy lights” (no word of a joke, this month’s selection has been described in precisely these terms). Last year that book for us was Writers & Lovers. This year it’s Katherine Heiny’s charming, witty and wise Early Morning Riser.

The novel, Heiny’s second, almost sounds trite to explain, so we’ll be vague and say that it spans 17 years and is about small-town life, what constitutes a family, domesticity (its calamities and its comforts), responsibility, love and heartbreak. Like Elizabeth Strout and Anne Tyler, Heiny has a magnificent capacity for taking the ordinary stuff of everyday life and making it extraordinary. Her astute observations and quirky but oh-so-vivid cast of characters literally make you laugh out loud. As a reader, you’re so consumed with all the laughing and the sheer delight of the story that you hardly realise how seamlessly Heiny steers the novel into moments of seriousness that elevate it to something profound. As The New York Times Book Review observed, "at its heart, this is a serious story full of lightness."

Oh, and that review that compared the book to a pretty and delicious biscuit went on to explain that the biscuit was in was in fact a "protein-packed three-course meal...an exceptionally satisfying one — nourishment for life." So it is a weighty read after all - savour every crumb!

A few links if you want to go deeper...

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