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Summary

Jane easily falls in love with Duncan: he's charming, good-natured and handsome. 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 she may be able to come to terms with dating the world's most prolific seducer of women, she wishes she didn't have to share him quite so widely. His ex-wife, Aggie, still has Duncan mow her lawn. And his co-worker Jimmy comes and goes from Duncan's apartment at the most inopportune times. Jane wonders how the relationship is supposed to work with all these people in it. But any notion Jane has of love and marriage changes with one tragic accident. Now her life is permanently intertwined with Duncan's, Aggie's and Jimmy's, and she knows she will never have Duncan to herself. But is it possible that a deeper kind of happiness is right in front of her eyes?

©2021 Katherine Heiny (P)2021 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Glorious. I love how it evokes the rhythm of life in all its joy and ordinariness and chaos. I loved the dialogue, the relationships. I love the one-liners, the humour, the gorgeous detail, the food, the innermost thoughts, and the love." (Nina Stibbe, author of Reasons to Be Cheerful)

"Wise, sad and barkingly funny. Katherine Heiny writes brilliantly about what we mean by the word 'family', and her novel is loving without being soppy and warm without being cosy - I didn't want it to end." (Lissa Evans, author of V for Victory)

"Katherine Heiny’s books feel like spending time with a smart, funny and beloved friend who always has a million interesting things to talk about but always wants to know about you, too. She is a charming and insightful and unique writer, and Early Morning Riser is every bit as good as Standard Deviation, if not better." (Lisa Jewell, author of Invisible Girl)

What listeners say about Early Morning Riser

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Can love survive marriage?

Early morning Riser takes us along with Jane from the age of 26 for the next 17 years. Katherine Heiny has an Elizabeth Strout-ish skill at giving the everyday minutiae of ordinary lives a specialness which is gratifying and moving. There's also lots of laugh-aloud humour provided by, for example, Jane's elementary school pupils, her awful outspoken mother, and her violently stroppy toddler. There is also one of the most vividly real descriptions of childbirth I've ever read (the author has surely recently given birth!) and an excruciating pre-wedding family gathering where Jane's mother pronounces her daughter's delicate rose-coloured wedding dress as looking as though an old red sock had got into the wash.

We follow Jane from her first relationship with Duncan (spoiled only by Duncan's track record which means every woman in small town Boyne City Michigan has had sex with him, and by his intrusive ex-wife Aggie whose lawn Duncan still mows) - to marriage and children. Along the way Jane learns what the novel is all about: love. That is the sort of love Jane comes to feel for Jimmy, the vulnerable 'slow-learning' young man to whom she gives a home when his mother dies; love for children however infuriating they might be (the author is great on children's speech and behaviour); the love of a husband however imperfect he may be; and the love of life however imperfect that may be.

The whole has a tremendous narrative drive matching Jane's own drive and embracing of life - even when it's sitting at a supper party listening to a guest detailing her gluten allergy. I loved it and I loved all her quirky similes such as a broken heart is like having a melon ball scooped out of a melon. It's one of those books where you miss the characters when it's finished.

It's very well read but I gave it only a 4 because of the men's voices. It's very hard for a female voice to create a successful male one, and her men came out too boomy

4 people found this helpful

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Not for me

I had heard about this book before it was released and pre-ordered it as the press for it made me think this would be something I’d enjoy. Sadly, it wasn’t.

The characters weren’t particularly relatable and I struggle to like any of them. This wasn’t helped by the narrator’s range of one voice for all female characters and one for all males.

The endless lists had me wondering if the author was struggling to meet a word count target, as she’s run out of steam in telling the story.

The descriptions of the school activities and students’ interactions made me wonder what is going on these days in second grade, as they seemed more fitting for a kindergarten class. By the same token, while it was made clear that Jimmy had learning difficulties, I began to wonder if most of the people describe in the book did too.

I stuck with it in the hope that there might be an interesting denouement, but this never materialised and I felt a sense of relief when the book finished.

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boring and not funny !

I read great reviews but it's a dull unfunny book about irritating characters doing very little

2 people found this helpful

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Just gorgeous

I adored Standard Deviation and this follow up was every bit as brilliant. Katherine Heiny has such a beautiful, distinctive, dreamy quality to her writing – she creates perfect little worlds that you want to crawl into forever. Can’t recommend enough!

2 people found this helpful

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N M Murray

A delightful story beautifully read by Kate Rudd A change to have such an easy listen.

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This one is ok but it does go on a bit

Some good bits it’s an easy listening for sure but towards the end chapters it got for me very boring

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it was okay

finished it a month back story hasn't even stuck with me.

good beach read. I have read better recently.

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Gentle enjoyable read

Lovely gentle meandering story, absolutely perfect after a few thrillers. Beautifully read and left me feeling warm and fuzzy, exactly what I needed.

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A wonderful listen!

One of the best readings ever and a heartwarming story. A bit like Anne Tyler.

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Fantastic story, horrible narration editing

This is such a fantastic book almost ruined by the audio. The editing of the narrator is so bad that I wondered if the narrator was computer generated. Buy this in print!