Evvie Drake Starts Over

Evvie Drake Starts Over

by Linda Holmes

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • #ReadWithJenna Book Club Pick as Featured on Today • “Everything a romantic comedy should be: witty, relatable, and a little complicated.”—People

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.

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.

Praise for Evvie Drake Starts Over

“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

“Effortlessly enjoyable . . . [a] pitch-perfect . . . adult love story that is as romantic as it is real.”USA Today

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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525619253
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 64
File size: 3 MB

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

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Evvie Drake Starts Over: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous 25 days ago
Anonymous 18 days ago
Annalucia 27 days 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 27 days 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 27 days 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 2 days ago
Susan1215 4 days ago
Evvie Drake starts over is such a cute lighthearted fun pick me up of a read. It is exactly what I am looking for when I want to be entertained and whisked away from reality. Such a strong release for a first time writer.
JannaD 7 days ago
Evvie Drake Starts Over is a charming read, featuring Evvie Drake after her husband dies unexpectedly. After his death, she struggles mostly with guilt over the fact that their marriage had issues and secrets, and was not the perfect life she pretended it was. She feels like she needs a new start, yet thinks she doesn't deserve one. Her house now seems too big for her, living all alone, plus she could use the extra income- so she rents out the apartment in the back to Dean Tenney, friend of a friend, who just so happens to be a major league baseball player experiencing the "yips", and in need of a do-over himself. While their unfolding story is not unexpected, it is definitely fun to go along with them! I loved the setting, a small town in MidCoast Maine, and really enjoyed Linda Holmes' descriptive narrating of the story. Overlooking the glaring fault in Dean (um excuse me, he plays for the Yankees!), his character was really sweet and I enjoyed the dynamic between Dean and Evvie. It started as mostly friends/companionship out of mutually going through hard times, and gradually and sweetly grew into something more. Of course, things are not always easy and they both have a lot of things to deal with. This was a bit of a slower read for me than most rom-coms usually are, but it was definitely worth it in my opinion. I really liked the ending, and thought that everything was tied up well. I liked that we see Evvie improving and growing, because she takes the time to get the help she needs and is supported by her friends and her dad. I'd definitely recommend this as a light summer read that also has a lot of heart!
Anonymous 7 days ago
I picked up this book due to the glowing reviews it received. Linda Holmes has all the right stuff for writing contemporary, funny romances with quirky, engaging characters. Having said that, there were a few quibbles I had with the book. For example, there were references to Dean's character made by his parents that felt too heavy-handed and gratuitous. And Evvie's reasons not to share her secret dilemma with anyone, especially her best friend Andy, seemed thin at best. The ending, which came to a comfortable close, didn't address a significant issue Evvie and Dean are going to face going forward. Regardless, the author is talented and the book should satisfy rom-com readers who are seeking more than the usual. She's got a great feel for dialogue and I look forward to her next book.
PageJunkie 8 days ago
I see reviews about Evvie Drake Starts Over that use the terms chicklit and romance, both are genres I enjoy from time to time. But, Evvie Drake Starts Over is so much more than those terms communicate. This is a story of two people who are at the end of a season of life. It is a story of two people searching for their new season. It is a story of two people who take action to move forward and find love along the way. The dialogue is entertaining at times and truthful to a place of pain at others. The story isn’t rushed or compressed to one short summer. It is told over a realistic time period which gives the author time to development the characteristics and emotions of people who have walked their respective paths. I slowed my reading because I didn’t want the book to end. After I finished it, I didn’t want read anything else for a couple of days because the experience of reading Evvie Drake Starts Over completely satisfied me as a reader. Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for an Advanced Readers Copy of this book in exchange for my homes review. #evviedrakestartsover #lindaholmes #netgalley #ballantinebooks #penguinrandomhouse #mmdsummerreading #summerstooshort #idratherbereading #bookstagram
ReadingIsMyCardioBookClub 9 days ago
"Evvie Drake Starts Over" is the perfect summer read - it's charming, funny and moving but also throws some curveballs you don't see coming. When we meet Evvie, her husband has just died, and she's figuring out how to (you guessed it!) start over. Enter ex-pro baseballer Dean Tenney who needs a place to escape his notorious flameout and (wait for it...) start over himself. He relocates to small-town Maine and rents an apartment in Evvie's house and soon, the two are helping each other pick up the pieces. Linda Holmes writes terrific characters who are well-developed and flawed in realistic ways. The relationships in the book - between Evvie and Dean, Evvie and her dad, Evvie and her best friend Andy, Dean and his parents, etc. - are believable and the issues they face aren't silly or too easily resolved. It's not a spoiler to reveal that Evvie and Dean become romantically involved and the evolution of their relationship from landlord/tenant to friends to more than friends is truly earned. I also loved the setting of Calcassat, Maine - it really came alive through Holmes' colorful descriptions of its quirky traditions and history - and the dialogue is so smart. It was refreshing to read a romance where the adults talked like adults and addressed problems head-on. If you enjoy smart and heartwarming rom-coms, this contemporary take on the genre is for you. 4.5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Books - Ballantine for a review copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 11 days ago
JenD99 11 days ago
I loved the story and the characters. I couldn’t put it down. The author did a great job of presenting real life & the struggles, but still hopeful, in a way that is believable and not too over the top. A great feel good story.
Anonymous 12 days ago
FromTheSouth 12 days ago
This book felt like an enjoyable stroll into the small town life and love of Evvie Drake, the funny but misplaced guilt ridden widow heroine. Wit its slow paced, slow burn romantic plot, I felt I had plenty of time to get to know her up close and personal, as well as her love interest, the handsome, lost his mojo magic pitch, professional baseball player hero, Dean Tenney. Her best friend, Andy, was quite a nice touch, too. I loved how they were always there for each other. In fact, I'd like to have a deeper glimpse of the behind the scenes love story that unfolded with him while Evvie and Dean were dancing around each other. He's a single dad raising girls all the while keeping a great sense of humor and life perspective. My only complaint would be how easily Evvie and Dean didn't fight for their love at one point. Sure, it lead to some realizations and a reunion, but it still bothered my avid romantic at heart heart. At least they both stayed celibate during the separation. Romance safe: Only one steamy scene, the few other ones felt more implied than detailed, no OW/OM drama, no love triangle, no cheating. When prompted by Evvie, Dean at one point does give her a woman by woman recount of his past relationships. Evvie has only been with one man (her deceased, verbally abusive husband). (These comments are based on a library edition. This is not a detailed ARC review.)
Anonymous 13 days ago
You don't want a story to be too predictable. We are a baseball family. Five sons and a father who loves to coach. This just was a great read and I couldn't put it down.....
Anonymous 14 days ago
A clever and witty story of second chance, middle-age love from NPR's Linda Holmes. A sweet story with relatable characters that are at once likeable. This is an effortless hope-filled read that will put a smile on your face. Looking forward to additional books from this debut author. She is one to watch!
MaryND 15 days ago
I’ve been a fan for years of author Linda Holmes’ work as the host of the NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, and the wit and warmth that is the hallmark of her commentary there is all over Evvie Drake Starts Over, the charming story of Evvie, a young widow hiding her guilt that she is not exactly grieving for her abusive late husband, and Dean, a Major League Baseball player forced into retirement after losing control of his pitching arm and trying to regroup by renting an apartment in Evvie’s rambling Maine home. Their clever, sparkling banter as they develop a friendship that eventually blossoms into something more gives the novel an effervescence that completely won me over and had me rooting for Evvie and Dean throughout. Throw in the baseball subplot and a coastal Maine setting, plus the fun cultural references you’d expect from Linda Holmes, and you have a book that belongs in every beach bag this summer—a Nora Ephron movie in book format. Don’t miss! Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books from providing me with an advance copy of this book in return for my honest review—I loved it.
Anonymous 15 days ago
Loved it. Fun and easy read. You are rooting for Evvie the entire book. Reading her journey for happiness is uplifting. I could not put it down.
bookfan-mary 15 days ago
On the day Evvie Drake decides to pack up and leave her husband she gets a call from the hospital saying he's been in a terrible accident. That's not a spoiler, it happens in the first pages of the book. Evvie doesn't tell anyone that she was going to leave thus throwing her into widowhood and keeping up the resulting appearances - even to her best friend. This friend, knowing Evvie needs income, sends another friend who needs an apartment to rent the apartment attached to Evvie's house. This friend is a baseball pitcher who lost his mojo and needs to hide out in a place where he won't be easily recognized. Evvie and Dean slowly form a friendship that was fun to read. I enjoyed their banter and the slow progression of their relationship. I liked how they figured out, in a not so simple/convenient way, the direction their lives would begin to take. Themes of depression, anxiety, grief, friendship, and love are touched on in Linda Holmes' deceptively breezy tale. I read it in an afternoon and recommend it to fans of romantic comedy. I wouldn't be surprised if this winds up on the big screen.
RLud29 18 days ago
Widow Evvie Drake lost her husband about a year ago in a tragic car accident on the day she was going to leave him. Alone in their big house, Evvie spends her days watching television and working as a transcriptionist. Her best friend, Andy, just started a new, serious relationship and they’re not hanging out as much as they used to. Dean Tenney, a former pitcher for the New York Yankees has lost his game. One day he was able to pitch, then one day he wasn’t able to hit his target anymore. Trying to find a solution for a condition called “the yips” with no perceivable cause or injury, Dean is forced to retire early. When Dean calls Andy to reconnect, Andy suggests that Dean move up to Maine to get away from the press and the rumors, and he has the perfect place, an apartment in the back of Evvie Drake’s large house. When he moves in, Evvie agrees she won’t ask about baseball if Dean won’t ask about her husband. This is a really wonderful, well written book. I enjoyed a lot of the humor throughout. Reading like a really good romantic comedy, this has some light sexual interactions, but mostly it’s a really great book about what happens when something tragic happens in life and you’re forced to start over. In many ways, this story is predictable, following good romantic comedy tropes. But this book also gets into some real emotions and some different types of characters we don’t normally see. The relationship with best friend, Andy, and his new girlfriend, Monica, could easily have become clichéd villains, but instead we get a really loving nuanced view of adult friendships. The relationship between Dean and Evvie is sweet, but it’s also a hard look at adults with mental health or emotional issues who are just trying to survive. We see the affects of abuse, and loss, and the importance of boundaries, and “fixing” other people. The ending is truly magnificent. I won’t spoil it, but it’s different than other books in this genre, while remaining true to the genre. I loved this book and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good romantic comedy or light romance novel. It’s the perfect beach read for this summer. ★★★★★ • Hardcover • Fiction - Literary, Romance, Comedy • Purchased from Barnes & Noble. ◾︎
JReppy 21 days ago
This was an enjoyable book. I liked the main characters -- Eveleth (Evvie), Andy, and Dean. I am glad that the author choose to have the strong platonic relationship between Evvie and Andy, and even had a brief attempt at a relationship as part of the backstory. It is not often that one finds a book where a male and female character can have a close relationship and be mutual sources of support without one person secretly being in love with the other person or the friends eventually becoming lovers. One of the best aspects of this book is how relatable is the character of Evvie. She knows that people have a certain image of her and her life and certain expectations of how she should behave, and while those impressions and expectations of her are mistaken, she cannot bring herself to contravene those expectations, not wanting to cause others pain and not wanting to face what kind of person she is if her true feelings are known. She also has a desire to fix others, as with Dean and his pitching career (or lack thereof since developing the "yips."). I enjoyed watching the evolution of Evvie as situations forced her to confront her past and admit that she had essentially been living a lie and as she realized how truly toxic her marriage had been, and as she finally had to confront how much of herself she had been hiding/suppressing due to the circumstances she had experienced so far in her life. I received a copy of the e-book via NetGalley.
Rachel Bennett 21 days ago
Evvie Drake Starts Over was a sweet book about Evvie Drake...starting over. The title is very apt! This book is a combo of women's fiction/romance. There is a romantic storyline but I felt like the book was more about Evvie's and Dean's personal struggles. Dean's a pro ball player who all of a sudden can't pitch (not sure I had a ton of sympathy for his situation as I don't really get sports). Evvie was a really sympathetic character - she lost her husband in an accident on the very day that she was finally planning to leave him. Her guilt over this day, as well as her guilt that she doesn't feel grief, are very relatable, and I thought she was a really interesting and unique character. I enjoyed the side plot of Evvie and Andy's friendship, although to be honest I felt like the chemistry between Evvie & Dean wasn't really there and was half hoping that at the end Evvie & Andy would end up together. 3 stars because, like I said, the romance was a little flat for me. They were lacking a spark. Still worth reading for the human stories, and getting to know the character of Evvie.
leslielb 22 days ago
Received an ARC from Netgalley for an honest opinion. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. I am super happy with the story that I got. Evvie seems to have gotten the short end of the stick with love the first time around, but gotten the best part the second time. Dean is a likable character, and I rooted for them from the beginning. They both had baggage, but were able to get it behind them to have a fresh start. Great cast of characters all around. Awesome story.
LHill2110 22 days ago
A feel-good, heartwarming, story about the unlikely relationship between a woman whose husband died just as she was (literally) leaving him and a star Yankee pitcher who “loses his stuff” in a spectacularly public way. Well-written with great banter, an array of likable characters, and plenty of humor. The premise is plausible enough and I enjoyed the social commentary and details of every day life in this small town on the mid-Coast of Maine. There is a lot more depth to the characters than is usual for a women’s fiction offering of this sort. The author is the host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast — I haven’t heard of this (I’m not a big podcast person), but I like the title, and I can guess that this explains a lot about the great character interactions!) Interesting to note that in two of the primary families, it is the mother that left, leaving the father to raise the children alone. I’m noticing a trend of this kind of gender role swapping which is always interesting! One small annoyance for me personally — a (pretty humorous) diatribe on the part of one character about a woman who was destroying their book club because she wanted people to actually read the books and didn’t accept that book clubs were just for socializing. I am that woman, and I stand by my demands!! Great for fans of Kristan Higgins