Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe

Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe

by Evan James


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Named one of 2019’s most anticipated reads by LitHub and Entertainment Weekly

From a bright new voice in contemporary fiction comes a hilarious and sophisticated comedy of manners about a delightfully eccentric family and the absurd happenings that befall them during one frenzied summer at their home in the Pacific Northwest.

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 on the Puget Sound—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.

Written in a singularly witty and satirical style, Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is perfect for fans of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, Andrew Sean Greer's Less, and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501199615
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 177,188
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Evan James is an award-winning writer whose personal essays and fiction have appeared in such publications as Travel + Leisure, Oxford American, and The New York Times, among others. He is the author of Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has received fellowships from Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Lambda Literary Writers’ Retreat, where he was an Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellow. He lives in New York.

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Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SheTreadsSoftly More than 1 year ago
Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe by Evan James is a highly recommended satirical comedy. Frank Widdicombe is suffering from depression, but only according to his wife, Carol, who also contemplates other things Frank may be suffering from. The Widdicombes are a wealthy family summering at their island home, Willowbrook Manor, on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound. Carol is planning a garden, created and cared for by Marvelous Matthews. Self-help author Gracie Sloane is going to spend the summer with them. Their son, a painter, has just returned with a broken heart from Italy. The Widdicombe's personal assistant Michelle is enamored of screenwriter Bradford, who returns her ardor. There are employees and guests and events planned for the summer that will hopefully cheer up Frank out of his supposed depression. This comedy will strongly remind you of a hilarious and sophisticated screwball comedy in films (for example: Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday or Some Like it Hot), only set in the present day. The narrative features the same absurd dialogue, irreverent wit, and repartee between characters as found in these old comedic films. The novel "outlines a summer with a family that’s so neurotic they’re almost normal." In order to appreciate Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe, readers will need to be prepared for the comedic banter and actions of all the characters in this debut novel that does not take itself or its characters too seriously. These characters are all characterized by outlandish and absurd behaviors and dialogues. They are laughably dysfunctional, prone to follow whatever New Age thought process that catches their eye. Don't take this novel too seriously. You need to laugh at all of it in order to appreciate it. Now, at times it does wander close to being a bit too over-the-top, but on the other hand, that does make it a fun read. This is a good choice for a summer vacation read. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books. 11504