Jane falls in love with Duncan easily. He is charming, good-natured, and handsome but unfortunately, he has also slept with nearly every woman in Boyne City, Michigan. Jane sees Duncan’s old girlfriends everywhere–at restaurants, at the grocery store, even three towns away.
While Jane may be able to come to terms with dating the world’s most prolific seducer of women, she wishes she did not have to share him quite so widely. His ex-wife, Aggie, a woman with shiny hair and pale milkmaid skin, still has Duncan mow her lawn. His coworker, Jimmy, comes and goes from Duncan’s apartment at the most inopportune times. Sometimes Jane wonders if a relationship can even work with three people in it–never mind four. Five if you count Aggie’s eccentric husband, Gary. Not to mention all the other residents of Boyne City, who freely share with Jane their opinions of her choices.
But any notion Jane had of love and marriage changes with one terrible car crash. Soon Jane’s life is permanently intertwined with Duncan’s, Aggie’s, and Jimmy’s, and Jane knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But could it be possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of Jane’s eyes? A novel that is alternately bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, Katherine Heiny’s Early Morning Riser is her most astonishingly wonderful work to date.
The novel focuses on Jane and her life in Boyne City with an array of other people – her family, friends, and partners. The characters in the book felt authentic and likeable and I wanted to read more about them.
It’s a fairly slow novel – not a huge amount of ‘action’ happens but we learn lots about certain characters and it feels quite realistic – like it reflects real peoples’ lives. There’s definitely a focus on the ordinary, but that doesn’t mean this novel is in any way boring.
There’s plenty of warmth and dry humour in Early Morning Riser. I liked reading about Jane as a younger woman, and her relationships as she grows up. The situation with Jimmy and his mother is both sad and uplifting in the way that Jane rallies around him – and Duncan too. Nothing in this novel is too cliched or feels forced; often I wished the characters would get more of a ‘storybook’ ending but that’s not real life, after all!
I didn’t like this novel as much as Standard Deviation, which I really loved, because I found some parts a little slow/ One part in particular – when Jane is waiting for Duncan to return home from a trip – felt this way as I wanted to know what would happen afterwards. However, I still enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Many thanks to the publisher, 4th Estate, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest review.