A question authors are often asked about their novels—after “What’s it about?” is: “What other books is it like?” Of course, every book is different, and every author is unique; but this is a good question for readers. I know, for example, that if a book is like Cooking with Fernet Branca, chances are high, I’ll love it. (Never heard of Cooking with Fernet Branca? If you like weird hilariousness . . . but that’s a review for another day.)
Is there a common thread through these books? Three of them deal with death, including two suicide attempts and one assisted dying plan. Two of them feature new next-door neighbours who catalyze life-changing events. Two deal with depression; two with growing old and feelings of uselessness. Three with loneliness and longings of the heart. Four with unexpected intergenerational relationships. Four with romances. Three of them involve cats who precipitate important emotional turns. Two have main characters named Rose/Rosie and two are “projects”! But no, none of these things are the thread.
I think the thread is that all these books deal with deep, important life issues in an uncommon way: through whimsy, humour, and fantasy, and with a light touch. They are philosophical, but also quirky and gentle. This is what I hope my books are, too. They’re not serious tomes, but they explore important issues: the imperfection of heroes and learning to trust oneself (Tim); secrets and lies and the costs they exact from those who hold them (Mendacities); how possessions can weigh us down and make us a little crazy (Possession); and the importance of imagination to make the world a better place (The Berenice Bell). In my current work-in-progress, I’m exploring themes of loneliness and exclusion.
Have you read any of the books I reviewed? What did you like or not like about them? What are the themes in them that matter to you? Do you agree with my pairings? I’d love to hear from you! As always, you can send me your thoughts or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.