Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over

by Linda Holmes


$20.80 $26.00 Save 20% Current price is $20.8, Original price is $26. You Save 20%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, October 23


From the host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast comes a heartfelt debut about the unlikely relationship between a young woman who’s lost her husband and a major league pitcher who’s lost his game.

“A quirky, sweet, and splendid story of a woman coming into her own.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six

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.

Advance praise for Evvie Drake Starts Over

“Charming, hopeful, and gently romantic . . . Evvie Drake is great company.”—Rainbow Rowell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park

“Holmes writes with an easy warmth about kind people who are trying their best but messing things up anyway. . . . A warm and lovely romance, perfect for readers of Rainbow Rowell and Louise Miller.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525619246
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 2,199
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for National Public Radio and the host of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which has held sold-out live shows in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and elsewhere. She appears regularly on NPR’s radio shows, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Before NPR, she wrote for New York magazine online and for TV Guide, as well as for the influential website Television Without Pity. In her free time, she watches far too many romantic comedies, bakes bread, watches her nephews get taller, and recently knitted her first hat.

Read an Excerpt


Evvie lay awake on the floor in the dark. More specifically, on the floor of the empty little apartment that jutted awkwardly from the back of her house into the yard. She was there because, upstairs in her own bed, she’d had another dream where Tim was still alive.

Evvie’s Scandinavian grandmother had claimed that young women dream about the husbands they want, old women dream about the husbands they wanted, and only the luckiest women, for a moment in the middle, dream about the husbands they’ve got. But even accounting for the narrow ambitions this formulation allowed, Evvie’s dreams about Tim were not what her nana had in mind.

He was always angry at her for leaving. Do you see what happened? he would say, again and again. He’d felt so close this time that she’d dreamed his cinnamon-­gum breath and the little vein on his forehead, and she was afraid if she turned over and went back to sleep, he’d still be there. So she’d thrown off the blankets and made her way down to the first floor of the house that had always been too big and was much too big now. Descending the wide curved staircase still felt like transgressing, like sneaking down to the front desk of a hotel late at night to ask for extra towels. She’d stopped in the kitchen to put on a pot of water for tea, come directly into the apartment, and stretched out on her back to wait.

When they’d first bought the house—­when he’d first bought the house—­they’d planned to rent out the apartment. But they never got around to it, so Evvie had painted it her favorite shade of peacock blue and used it like a treehouse: KEEP OUT. It was still her favorite place in the house and would remain so, unless Tim’s ghost started haunting it just to say he’d noticed a few little bubbles in the paint, and it would really look better if she did it over.

Nice, she’d thought to herself when that thought first intruded. Welcome to Maine’s most ghoulish comedy club. Here is a little joke about how my husband’s ghost is kind of an asshole. And about how I am a monster.

It was a little after four in the morning. Flat on her back in her T-­shirt and boxers, she took rhythmic breaths, trying to slow the pounding in her temples and belly and wrists. The house felt empty of air and was totally silent except for the clock that had ticked out pick-­a-­pick-­a for thirty-­five years, first in her parents’ kitchen and now in hers. In the dark apartment, she felt so little of anything, except the prickle of the carpet on her skin, that it was like not being anywhere at all. It was like lying directly on top of the earth.

Evvie thought from time to time about moving in here. Someone else could have the house, that big kitchen and the bedrooms upstairs, the carved banister and the slick staircase where she’d once slipped and gotten a deep purple bruise on her hip. She could live here, stretched out on her back in the dark, thinking all her worst thoughts, eating peanut butter sandwiches and listening to the radio like the power was out forever.

The kettle whistled from the kitchen, so she stood and went to turn it off. She took down one of the two public-­radio fundraising mugs from the cabinet, leaving behind the one with the thin coat of dust on its upturned bottom. The tag on her chamomile teabag said, There is no trouble that a good cup of tea can’t solve. It sounded like what a gentleman on Downton Abbey would say right before his wife got an impacted tooth and elegantly perished in bed.

Blowing ripples in her tea, Evvie went into the living room where there was somewhere to sit and curled up on the deep-­green love seat. There was a Sports Illustrated addressed to Tim sticking out of the pile of mail on the coffee table, and she paged through it by the wedge of light from the kitchen: the winding down of baseball season, the gearing up of football season, an update on a college gymnast who was quitting to be a doctor, and a profile of a Yankees pitcher who woke up one day and couldn’t pitch anymore. That last one was under a fat all-­caps headline: “HOW TO BECOME A HEAD CASE.” “Way ahead of you,” she muttered, and stuck the magazine at the bottom of the pile.

Reading Group Guide

1. Small towns like Calcasset, Maine, can be wonderful—Evvie has a strong support network, community traditions, stability—but there can also be downsides. After her husband’s death, Evvie keeps secret her previous plans to leave him. Why do you think she does this? Have you ever found it difficult to voice an ugly truth?

2. What does Dean’s unexpected and inexplicable inability to pitch a baseball mean to you? Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you haven’t been able to perform as you would like to?

3. Evvie and Dean are both thrown huge curve balls—Evvie loses her husband, Dean his livelihood. Do you think they handle the changes in their lives well?

4. Andy and Evvie are close friends with no romantic interest in each other—but things get complicated when Andy starts dating Monica. Have you ever had to balance a relationship and a close friendship?

5. Do you think that balance is further complicated if that friend is a member of the opposite sex? Is this an experience you can relate to?

6. As Evvie and Dean become closer, Evvie reveals more about her marriage. What does she come to understand about her marriage to Tim by the end of the book, and how does this new understanding change her?

7. Evvie finds it difficult to rely on others or to ask for help. Can you relate? Do you find it hard to depend on other people for emotional or practical support?

8. Why does Evvie decide to take a break from speaking to her mother? Do you think she makes the right decision?

9. Evvie, Andy, and Dean are all struggling with different forms of grief. What is each character grieving and how do they find ways to heal?

10. Why do you think Evvie puts off contacting Nona about her job proposition? Why do you think she finally does call Nona back? Have you ever put off an opportunity? What made you finally take the plunge?

Do you think Evvie successfully “starts over” by the end of the novel? How does she change from the beginning to the end of the book?

12. What actors would you cast in a film version of Evvie Drake Starts Over?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Evvie Drake Starts Over: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous 9 months ago
Annalucia 10 months ago
I have been looking forward to this book since Linda Holmes announced it and it did not disappoint. Great characters who talk to each other and listen to each other and most importantly respect each other. When they mess up, there are consequences they have to work through. It was sweet, charming and well written. I could have read it all night in one go but instead I forced myself to spread it out over a few days so I could prolong the warm cozy feeling I got when I was reading it. This book will be an old friend in no time, re-reading it whenever I want to feel great. I hope it’s the first of many from Linda Holmes.
Ms-Hurst 10 months ago
Hooked from the first pages. Evvie is leaving her husband. And then she's not. What comes after has the kind of witty dialogue you read out loud to other people. Normally I don't go for any of the romance stuff. Had I known that this was going to be what it was, I may not have read it. It's really no mystery where the story is going. It is all about the journey on this one. It took a few days to read only because I was so busy and traveling. Some parts became a little cheesy, but it was charming.
MegKen 10 months ago
This is a great read. Evvie Drake had gone through so much in her marriage and keeping it a secret almost cost her her best friend. She finally has a chance to start over and almost loses that life and love, as well. Thankfully, she starts to figure her life out and try for a fresh start. This is such a sweet book that we can all relate to.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Xkoqueen 7 days ago
Evvie Drake Starts Over is a book about second chances. It's about the time between an ending and a new beginning when you are in limbo trying to make sense of what has happened, how you'll move forward, or what you will move forward to. It's about falling apart and picking yourself up. It's about acceptance and seeking help. This book was nothing like what I expected, and it was perfect. Evvie is going to do it. She has packed her things, secured some funds, and she is getting reading to drive away. When her departure is interrupted by life changing news, Evvie feels stuck. Playing the grieving widow for an emotional abusive man she was going to leave is making her sick. Author Linda Holmes created a truly empathetic character in Evvie. Dean is also stuck, but he is stuck in his head. As a major league pitcher, he lit up the sky. At least he did until the day he didn’t. He lost his game, and he has spent a lot of time and money trying to get it back. The daily barrage of insults and ribbing has him looking for a place to escape and basically hide out. Which leads him Andy, his best childhood friend who also happens to be Evvie’s dearest friend. Evvie and Drake’s meeting and their budding friendship feels organic. There is no insta-love; it is a very realistic and relatable relationship progression. The characters are delightfully normal in their imperfection. The dialogue is authentic. The pace was a bit slow at times but not so much that it impacted my enjoyment or influenced my rating. This romantic comedy is not particularly romantic in the traditional sense, but Evvie Drake Starts Over is a heartwarming read that left me feeling in love and hopeful.
VivMPReads 11 days ago
Linda Holmes’ debut novel is a story of two characters who are broken, find each other and bring out the best in each another. Evvie Drake is a widow who lives in a small town in Maine, and Dean Tenney is a well-known professional baseball player who’s a pitcher. Dean’s pitching has dried up and so has his career. Dean needs a break and a getaway which takes him to Maine where he rents an apartment in Evvie’s house. Their friendship grows into a sweet and gentle romance, their worlds collide, and gently they’re put back together again. Holmes created warm characters and this was a lovely story, but Evvie’s relationship with her late husband dragged on and fell flat. I know this book was entertained on The Jimmy Fallon Show and was a top pick, but for me, the story needed to pick up. Broken characters need time to mend, but I wanted more sooner for Evvie and Dean. Otherwise, I enjoyed it, and Holmes definitely created vivid scenes in my mind throughout the entire book. Even though it was a little slow for me, I do look forward to another novel by this author.
Anonymous 18 days ago
I loved this beautiful story… I think we all see a little bit of Evvie Drake in us- or perhaps someone we know! I will add this list to my treasure chest and favorite books and highly recommend it.
Anonymous 3 months ago
What a lovely novel! More Lifetime/Hallmark movie slash women’s fiction than a straight up romance, this story is equally heartbreaking as it is sweet. It demonstrates that people can be many things and feel many ways at once. I’ve followed Linda Holmes for almost 10 years now, and it’s so wonderful to now have something else of hers to connect to. (And I’ll always be grateful for her teaching me about the yips, albeit 10 years after someone else should’ve.) I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a cozy read.
Chari Kauffman 3 months ago
I was given a free copy of this book by #Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Evvie Drake is recently widowed and living in a large house by herself. A major league baseball player injures himself and needs a place to stay to be out of the public's eye. A friend of Evie's convinces her to take in the baseball player as a renter. The two slowly get to know each other until it grows into more than friendship. A lovely story that keeps you wanting more.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Anonymous 3 months ago
Too sweet for me. Not believable. The chick needs to stop crying. Yuk.
Darlareads 3 months ago
Don't be deceived if you think Evvie Drake Starts Over is simply a second chance at love novel. While romance is involved, I was pleasantly surprised to find more depth in this recent novel by LInda Holmes. Evvie (pronounced Chevy) is reeling from the sudden death of her husband and struggling with what it means to be a 'young widow." Perhaps her biggest struggle is the secret she's keeping from everyone close to her: on the day he died, she had packed her car to leave her husband. From the view of outsiders, colleagues, friends, family, their life looked perfect. Inside the walls of their beautiful home life for Evvie was darker and becoming smaller by the day. Having started over twice in my own adult life, I strongly identified with Evvie and the way she handled the stress. She laid on the floor in an empty apartment, I drove to a WalMart parking lot and cried. We were both doing the same thing, trying to cope but not letting anyone in on our struggle. One of the most moving moments for me was when Evvie started to open up to someone and they made an observation about her marriage that she had not identified or admitted. I think it is interesting that often we can clearly see an injustice in someone else's life, but refuse to label it the same in our own. Oh, did I mention there is a romance with a hot major league baseball whose career imploded publicly and spectacularly?? There is that. And it's good. But for me it was the backdrop and the spark that urged Evvie to start over in all the other areas of her life. Because of my own experiences, this resonated more with me than the romance.....but the romance was GOOD. I also appreciated reading about someone a little more 'mature.' Not as 'mature' as me lol but it was refreshing for the protagonist to at least be in her 30's. Ultimately, Evvie had the courage and determination to re-imagine a life that reflected her desires, ambitions and truth. I think there's always room for that kind of story.
Anonymous 4 months ago
It’s a wonderful book!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Gaaaahh!!! Me and Daisy loved this book. Linda Holmes captured all the feels. She even wrote about seeing mental health assistance in a way that makes sense for anyone. It's a fun book, but I really related to the characters. None of them were perfect, just perfectly ordinary. Love!
Anonymous 4 months ago
Very easy reading and hard to put down
Nycol 4 months ago
Evvie Drake Starts Over is a delightful debut novel by Linda Holmes. Evvie’s husband is killed in a car crash, and she has to live with the real-life challenges associated with both her husband’s death as well as her feelings surrounding their marriage. Dean Tenney is a former Major League pitcher who has troubles of his own. He wants a quiet place to work through them, so he rents the apartment behind Evvie’s house from Evvie. This book felt like real life where things are complicated, challenging, and life-affirming. It’s a pretty predictable read, but the journey is still worth traveling because it’s well-written. You’ll find yourself wishing the best for these characters. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Anonymous 5 months ago
enjoyed this immensly
suesue62 5 months ago
I really enjoyed this book but I have to admit I have some mixed feelings! As a widow myself, although under very different circumstances than Evvie, I could really identify with her on a number of things! Other things, not so much. And, this book really makes you think! Sometimes a good thing, sometimes, not so much lol! Overall, 4 1/2 stars :)
Anonymous 5 months ago
This was the first time that I ever read anything by Linda Holmes. It was a great book. Couldn't put it down Hope she continues to right more novels.
Renwarsreads 5 months ago
This was a really cute story that centers around Evvie Drake and the decisions she's trying to make to better her life. Sometimes things are out of your control and you have to roll with it, she's not a roll with it kind of person, she's a fixer. The other people in this small Maine town who are Evvie's friends and family have a different perception of her life than what really is going on. It's a nice light read about love, life and finding happiness!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Just loved this book. Know it's great when you don't want it to end.
bookchickdi 7 months ago
Linda Holmes has written a charming debut novel, “Evvie Drake Starts Over”. Evvie is packing up her car to leave her emotionally abusive husband and her small hometown of Calcasset, Maine, when she gets word that her husband has been killed in a car accident. No one knows she was going to leave, including her loving single dad who raised her on his own, or her best friend Andy, who is raising his two young girls alone since his wife left the family. Evvie seems stuck. She is living in a big house that she never liked, with a job transcribing research that she does from home. She helps Andy with his two girls, whom she adores, but that is the extent of her social life. Andy has a friend, a major league baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees who has lost his mojo. He can no longer pitch at all, every pitch thrown wildly, and no one has been able to help him fix his problem. With New York media and fans being brutal, Dean is looking to escape. When Andy suggests that Dean move into the spare apartment Evvie has in her house, she reluctantly agrees. Evvie and Dean get to know each other, but they both agree that the topics of baseball and her marriage are off limits. Watching their relationship develop is sweet. “Evvie Drake Starts Over” is a heartwarming story, and if you are someone who enjoys baseball and a good romantic story in a small town setting, this one is for you. Jenna Bush Hager chose this as her July pick for her Today Show Book Club.
Kaceeey 7 months ago
4.5* Definitely not your average Rom Com! This is raw, true life! The twist and turns it takes along the journey. The pieces you need to pick up in order to move forward. Evvie married her high-school sweetheart. On the day she’s planning to take on life in a new direction, her husband is killed in a car accident. With the snap of a finger, Evvie is left to regroup, and somehow find the strength to start over...again. Time for Evvie 3.0 Dean was living the dream. A star pitcher for the New York Yankees. Everything he wished for in life was laid out in front of him. That is until he could no longer throw a strike, quickly finding himself a wash-out. Dean is left searching for answers, trying to find himself, as his dream collapses down around him. This was a truly heartwarming read. One that I connected to immediately, holding me right to the end. I loved Evvie and felt her profound pain as she dealt with piecing her life back together. The strength she needed to put her past behind her and move on. There is nothing cliche about this Rom Com. So very authentic, it takes you deeply into the lives of the characters as they gradually discover there is in fact, life after their dreams fall short. Linda Holmes writes an incredibly captivating book about....well...life! Loved it! Hope you will too! A wonderful buddy read with Susanne, that took both of us by surprise! Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group Ballantine and Linda Holmes for an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.