Book Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Evvie Drake Starts Over is about a young widow who’s stuck in one of those places in life that can be hard to get out of. I would say this book is mostly a romance, but it also has strong themes of friendship, family, and breaking free of what’s holding you back to finally move forward.

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I decided recently, after reading a string of depressing novels, that I need to read more “light but smart” books. Evvie Drake Starts Over mostly fits the category. Although it deals with some serious topics, it never feels overly heavy. And parts of it are quite funny, especially the dialog. The characters frequently engage in witty exchanges that make me smile. It’s hard to write clever dialog but the author nails it.

Evvie Drake’s husband is killed in a car accident on the day she was leaving him. In fact, she was packing her car when she got the call from the hospital. She was leaving because he was a louse, although he managed to maintain a facade that had everyone else admiring him. Evvie had been stuck living a lie in her marriage, pretending everything was great, and now she’s stuck in the same lie as a widow, pretending to mourn. Out of a sense of obligation, she doesn’t tell the truth about her husband, not even to her best friend.

Evvie’s husband did a number on her self-confidence, and now she’s stuck in the house her husband chose without the wherewithal to break out of her funk. I know it sounds a little depressing, but Dean arrives just in time to lighten things up. Dean is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who rents the apartment attached to Evvie’s house. His career ended in catastrophic failure – he just suddenly couldn’t pitch anymore. Tired of the ridicule from fans and the press, he escapes to the small Maine town where Evvie lives.

Although they live under the same roof, it takes a while for the romance to get started. These are two wounded people who aren’t ready for romance, but start off with a nice friendship (complete with witty dialog). They both have their own issues to work through, and one of them hits rock bottom before they’re able to make progress in their life and their relationship (Hint: it’s Evvie).

I liked Evvie Drake Starts Over. I cared about what happened to the characters, there’s a great example of a strong, platonic friendship and the characters mostly had healthy relationships with their parents (take heed, Olive Kitteridge). I also liked that Evvie and Dean weren’t perfect. They both came with baggage and they were willing to help each other work through their “stuff.” It did drag a bit in places, especially towards the end, but that wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

Evvie Drake Starts Over won’t win any prestigious literary prizes, but it was the “light but smart” read I was looking for. I recommend it to anyone who likes realistic contemporary romances with likable characters and funny dialog.

Have you read anything “light but smart” recently? Please share in the comments section.

12 thoughts on “Book Review: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

  1. Thanks for the review and the rec! I recently finished A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. I liked it–complicated, smart characters; some romance; period-specific (in this case, New England and NYC in the 1930s, with a dash of historical fiction involving the devastating 1938 hurricane). I’m in the middle of Fiona Davis’s new The Lions of Fifth Avenue, also historical fiction with parallel stories set in the NYC Public Library–liking it so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to see you’re still reading and enjoying fiction! Thanks for the recommendations! I read and liked The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams, so I’ll be sure to check out A Hundred Summers.


  2. I enjoyed Evvie Drake, and I agree that it was “light but smart.” I have followed Linda Holmes in her career at NPR for a long time, and I’ve always enjoyed her writing.

    I thought Red, White and Royal Blue was a surprising smart novel. I don’t usually go for straight-up romances, which it was. The characters are queer, which made it something different. I really liked it, and I’ll definitely read another one by Casey McQuiston.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah! I’m glad you enjoyed Evvie Drake, too. I’ve heard good things about Red, White and Royal Blue so I think it’s time to add it to my library list. Thanks for the recommendations!


  3. Thanks for a recommendation for a smart, light book. I’ve been reading way too much heavy stuff – mostly about racial injustice, but now Philip Roth, too. Plenty smart, but definitely not LIGHT. This looks good! We’re also enjoying the Durrells in Corfu – thank you for that terrific suggestion!

    Liked by 1 person

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