A friend’s sombre widow continues to agonize over the one thing she truly doesn’t want to think about, opening a page in a melancholy novel that gently curtails her silent mourning.
Writers should never write to impress us. They should write to unsettle us. But sometimes characters compel us to ignore our own expectations. What makes the granite statue of a friendship in “I Only Sort of Hope He’s Happy” work? It’s not one single plot twist that changes the game, nor even a major development that grants the speaker the happy ending she had longed for.
It’s everything that has built up to this point. The friendship between Eva and Iris is a study in careful, emotional observation. Eva’s interest in family and nurture is strained by the dissolution of her two-year marriage. On the other hand, Iris has no desire to have children, instead wishing for a life less “consuming.” Each heroine realizes she wants different things in a relationship. They’re equally responsible for squelching any feeling of affection, the best friendship may be more on its own, striving to understand each other’s discomfort, loneliness and loathing.
“I Only Sort of Hope He’s Happy” will be released in paperback next year.