The B&N Podcast: Linda Holmes on the Joy of Banter

Every author has a story beyond the one that they put down on paper. The Barnes & Noble Podcast goes between the lines with today’s most interesting writers, exploring what inspires them, what confounds them, and what they were thinking when they wrote the books we’re talking about.

On today’s episode we’re joined by Linda Holmes, the host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour to talk about her sparkling new novel Evvie Drake Starts Over. Evvie has lost her husband unexpectedly— but what she finds herself mourning is something very different from what friends and family understand; and when a baseball star struggling with his own demons arrives in her small Maine town, what unfolds between the two of them is as unexpected, authentic and delightful as the voice that Holmes brings to her public radio audience. She joined me in the studio just as Evvie Drake Starts Over hit the bookshelves — and instantly became one of the summer’s must read books — to talk about her unusual career arc, the nature of the yips, and why Moonlighting matters.

In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken—and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts—the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept—but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance—up until the last out.

A joyful, hilarious, and hope-filled debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over will have you cheering for the two most unlikely comebacks of the year—and will leave you wanting more from Linda Holmes.

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Author photo of Linda Holmes (c) Tim Coburn.