Alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, a wise, bighearted novel of love, disaster, and unconventional family—from the acclaimed author of Standard Deviation, who has been called the "literary descendant of Jane Austen, sharing Austen's essentially comic world view" (NPR).
Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan's old girlfriends everywhere—at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away.
While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world's most prolific seducer of women, she wishes she did not have to share him quite so widely. His ex-wife, Aggie, a woman with shiny hair and pale milkmaid skin, still has Duncan mow her lawn. His coworker, Jimmy, comes and goes from Duncan's apartment at the most inopportune times. Sometimes Jane wonders if a relationship can even work with three people in it—never mind four. Five if you count Aggie's eccentric husband, Gary. Not to mention all the other residents of Boyne City, who freely share with Jane their opinions of her choices.
But any notion Jane had of love and marriage changes with one terrible car crash. Soon Jane's life is permanently intertwined with Duncan's, Aggie's, and Jimmy's, and Jane knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But could it be possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of Jane's eyes? Katherine Heiny's Early Morning Riser is her most astonishingly wonderful work to date.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We loved reading this brisk, funny, and bighearted ode to chosen family. When second-grade teacher Jane moves to Boyne City, Michigan, she immediately falls for easygoing Duncan, a fortysomething woodworker who has romanced most of the women in the small town. Jane soon finds herself acquainted with many of them, but primarily with Duncan’s willful ex-wife, Aggie, whose ridiculously needy husband, Gary, supplies much of the book’s humor. The chapters unfold in bursts over two decades, during which time Jane graduates from youthful fantasies of the perfect life to a deeper appreciation for the messiness of true love. Katherine Heiny has a gift for observing precisely how we pass the hours of our lives and capturing how tragedy reorders our small worlds. Early Morning Riser is as warm and comforting as the cup of cocoa Gary demands on a nightly basis.
This touching and fizzy comic novel by Heiny (Standard Deviation) makes the ordinary extraordinary. Jane, 26, moves to a small town in northern Michigan in 2002 to teach second grade. She immediately falls for Duncan, a charming if not entirely reliable woodworker who looks "like the Brawny towel man," has been divorced for 10 years (but still does the household maintenance his ex's current husband doesn't enjoy doing), and about whom Jane's best friend, the mandolin-toting Freida, warns her, "He's had an awful lot of girlfriends." Heiny follows Jane and Duncan through the next 17 years, stopping in to investigate their various breakups and marriages, with ample attention paid to dysfunctional dinner parties and school field trips run amok. The author knows just how to pull the rug out, such as a chapter on Jane's first wedding that ends with a premonition of a medical emergency involving Jane's mother. Heiny surrounds Jane and Duncan with a full range of quirky friends and relatives who perform key roles in shaping their lives. A deep awareness of the ways the potential for tragedy lies just beneath the surface of small-town life gives the proceedings a sense of gravity and holds the humor in perfect balance. This is a winner.
As I started to read this book I thought, “oh no this is going to be cheesy”, and then like “the flip switching and cartwheels becoming possible”, I wound up loving every quirky character in this touching story. Just loved it!
Reread many times!
I laughed so loud at this book! The quirky characters, the beautiful funny romance, very light hearted and just cozy. I’ve actually had this book for over a year now and this is my first review. It’s absolutely funny and I love to reread it again. I actually bought it to keep in my library. I only buy physical books I’ll keep and reread. Everything else is on my kindle.
Meh…I kept asking myself why I was reading this book.