*This post contains affiliate links.*
I don’t want to admit how long it took me to realize her name was Eveleth in Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, a contemporary women’s fiction novel. I listened to the audio version and thought I misheard the narrator. But no, her name is Eveleth, and this is important. Here’s why.
No Flat Characters Need Apply
Every time the author could have gotten away with a cliche, every time I was satisfied with how the story was going, Holmes zigged instead of zagged in this contemporary women’s fiction novel. I can’t remember how many times I thought oh no she didn’t.
Take the main character’s name.
Evie is named for the town where her mother grew up. The town her mother longed for so much she abandoned her husband and daughter to run away from the small Maine coastal town she had ended up in.
How’s that for a punch to the gut?
The main character is named for her mother’s unhappiness! This is no Jack and Maggie tale. (How many books have you read where either one or both characters contain the name Jack and/or Maggie?)
Contemporary Women’s Fiction or Disney World?
There were so many nuanced, beautiful details in this book I thought I was in Disney World. As an avid Disney fan, I will tell you there are always (ALWAYS!) little Easter eggs left through out all the parks, the resorts, the etc. etc. etc. Little pieces of treasure you could never hope to find in a lifetime.
That’s how this book felt.
When you expect the characters to be already shaped, Holmes pulls the rug out from under you to say no, we can go deeper.
When the plot was perfectly delicious, the author said no, let’s add some spice.
My mind darted about just as my eyes do at Disney. There was so much to make this book more than what it seemed. I was thinking I was going into a light hearted contemporary fiction and I found myself blindsided by weighty emotional issues and characters who truly fought for their lives.
Evvie as a Balancing Act
This contemporary women’s fiction novel takes place in a small coastal Maine town. Small equates to gossipy. Public perception versus private reality was a common theme in this book as Evvie’s husband is a revered doctor in the town. Dr. Drake has helped a lot of people, but here’s the catch.
He’s a butthead.
And poor Evvie is married to him. Until one day she decides she’s finally going to leave. She’s going to defy the public wave of exuberance for this terrible man and get the hell out of there.
And butthead that he is, her husband is killed in a car accident on the day she finally gets up the courage to leave him.
From this point on, you, dear reader, shout at Evvie to tell all of those gossipy snotrocket townspeople just what a butthead Dr. Drake was. But Evvie never says a word. There’s only one scene where she pushes a little (just a very little!), but it’s not enough. And you will scream at her to do more.
But that’s not the point of Evvie’s story. It’s why the idea of balance is so important to this character.
Victory is For Herself and No One Else
It didn’t matter what the townspeople thought or that Tim Drake’s parents were upset with Evvie for not mourning more. It didn’t matter because the only person Evvie wanted to win was Evvie herself.
Her victory was her own!
This was so refreshing in a contemporary women’s fiction. Evvie was honestly not a cry baby. You could get her. The character has a habit of lying on the carpet and staring up at the ceiling thinking about her life.
Raise your hand if you’ve done this. (I’m raising mine so get yours up.)
Evvie is not defeated. She’s confused, overwhelmed, daunted.
But she takes a minute to lie on the carpet and figure that crap out. That’s why it’s so easy to root for her.
Let’s Talk About the Hero
The hero is Dean Tenney, a New York Yankees pitcher with a serious case of the yips. So serious in fact, he retired in shame. Dean is the person Evvie absolutely needed.
Dean’s shame is at a national level. Evvie’s anguish is at a town level. Dean grapples with interpreting events how they really happened versus how he perceived them to happen. Evvie takes a journey through which she talks frankly with herself about how her husband treated her. Not just saying he was mean. She confronts the fact that he was emotional abusive.
Evvie’s character needs Dean’s to take this journey and like the cogs of a railroad they pull each other forward.
I made my husband shut off Gremlins at the very start because something happens to the dog. I don’t know what it is. It started to happen, and I screamed, and I made him shut it off, and I’ve never seen the movie. And I never will.
So on this blog, I’ll share what may be trigger issues for people, because I get it. I don’t read books about dogs. I. Can’t. Handle. It.
Here are some potential triggers in Evvie Drake Starts Over:
- Emotional abuse
- Abandonment from a parent
If You Liked….
You will enjoy Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes if you liked…
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This contemporary women’s fiction novel was more than a light hearted romantic romp. Evvie Drake is a fighter, but she’s a realistic fighter. We get to see her weak and confused, and that makes her all the more incredible.
Have you read Evvie Drake Starts Over, a Contemporary Women’s Fiction Novel?
Let us know what you thought in the comments, but please – no spoilers.
[…] Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes […]
[…] Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes […]