At the top of the page on Linda Holmes’ Web site, http://www.thisislindaholmes.com/about, viewers see the following words under her name: Writer. Reader. Talker. Listener. These four words do not sum up Linda Holmes, but they make a great start. One would have to add witty, bright, and original to name a few more descriptors.
Educated as a lawyer, Holmes now has expanded her professional life into being pop culture correspondent for NPR; she hosts Pop Culture Happy Hour, https://www.npr.org/podcasts/510282/pop-culture-happy-hour, and often is a guest on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. She has also published magazine articles and written for Television Without Pity. Readers will also find information about Holmes on NPR’s site: https://www.npr.org/people/93702353/linda-holmes.
Evvie Drake Starts Over is Linda Holmes’ debut novel. According to BookReporter, “If you love well-written characters, quirky towns, and charming, hopeful love stories, [Evvie Drake Starts Over] is the perfect book for your next summer read.” Jenna Bush-Hager chose Evvie Drake Starts Over for her July book club on the Today Show. I requested the book from the library; I received it late in July, so I missed Bush-Hager’s discussion.
I read Evvie Drake Starts Over quickly because I can see on my books checked out list that 142 people are still waiting; the library does have 58 copies of the book as well as e-books and large print versions. However, I felt an obligation to read and return the book as soon as possible. Okay, so I also wanted to see what happens in the story for myself and I have how many other books starting at me from my TBR pile?
The first line of Evvie Drake Starts Over is “Go now, or you’ll never go, Evvie warned herself.” Now, that’s an intriguing way to begin a story. What does Evvie need to leave behind? Why the word warned? Readers quickly learn that Evvie is on the verge of leaving her husband, Dr. Tim Drake. Then she receives a call that changes her life as much or possibly more than leaving Tim would have done. Tim has been badly injured in a car accident and has been rushed to the hospital.
By the time Evvie reaches the hospital, Tim has died, so now instead of fleeing from her husband and her hometown, Evvie is a widow who must act according to other people’s expectations of her once more. As far as everyone knows, including Evvie’s best friend Andy, Evvie and Tim had a loving marriage. Evvie has kept Tim’s emotional and physical abuse a secret as many abused women do.
Evvie, now widowed, continues her life in the house Tim chose and purchased. She has a job transcribing authors’ notes and also works with authors on research for nonfiction books. She has her Saturday morning breakfasts with her best friend Andy whose wife left him and their two little girls. Evvie and Andy are friends despite Andy’s mother’s hope that they will fall in love with one another. Evvie enjoys spending time with Andy’s girls, but she and Andy are truly friends only.
Andy suggests that Evvie rent out the apartment off the kitchen of her home to Dean Tenney, a baseball pitcher who has developed the yips and can no longer pitch. Dean and Andy are childhood friends. Andy thinks it would be good for Dean to get away from NYC and out of the spotlight for a while.
Readers can anticipate that romance will develop between Evvie and Dean, and it does, no spoiler here. Still, the story is not a romance in the strict sense of the word. Romance novels have a pattern. Evvie Drake Starts Over breaks with that pattern giving readers a solid story and romance as well.
If I have any criticism of the novel it would be in some of the language—not to be prudish, but to be realistic. I can understand that Dean would use unsavory words now and then, but he uses certain four-letter words in situations where they don’t ring true to me. The last part of the book does not have those words in it and it reads more smoothly for the lack of coarse words.
Evvie Drake Starts Over gives readers a story of unforeseen friendship. Both Evvie and Dean have secrets that hold them back. Finally, together, they choose to bring those secrets out into the open and deal with them.
Evvie Drake Starts Over provides readers with a good story.