It is a true joy when an author who understands her strengths as a storyteller finds ways to deliver on them time and again. That’s why a new Cathy Lamb book is an automatic read for me.
Fans of Lamb’s previous twelve novels will recognize her distinctive way of spinning a tale in her thirteenth, All About Evie (Kensington): a chatty female protagonist with an unusual dilemma, secondary characters who are lovably quirky, a slow-burning romance that has every reason not to work out, and a heart-warming ending that will move you to tears.
Evie Lindsay is the only female in her family to manifest what is usually an inherited trait: the Irish second sight. As Evie helps her sister plan her wedding, the sisters agree to take a DNA test to see how much of their family lore holds true—and the results make Evie question everything she thought she knew about her family.
Despite the small-town charm, rural pastures, and soul-stirring vistas on fictional San Orcanitas Island off of Washington State—if it weren’t fictional, you’d want to move in—Evie knows little peace. Interest from an available man, a booming tourist trade, and her sister’s upcoming (and decidedly unconventional) nuptials are welcome distractions, but they can’t address her core problem of ongoing anxiety.
Anxiety is a familiar theme in this day and age, but the source of Evie’s offers an interesting twist. Unbidden premonitions weigh heavily on her as other people’s dire fates either keep her running to save the day or drained by the value judgements she must make to stand aside and let nature take its intended course.
This “gift” keeps Evie on the periphery of island culture, reinforcing lifelong feelings she’s had of being an outsider. Even worse, the premonition that causes her the most ongoing angst features herself—and despite the specificity of its details, its ending is frustratingly vague.
Diverse aspects of this island setting offer the perfect locale for the shop Evie owns, which sells books, cake, and tea. Avid readers will chuckle at the way Evie occasionally rants at her bookstore customers for their narrow-minded tastes, opening them to new possibilities, and then wooing them with just the right pairing of cake and tea. (Warning: if you have a sweet tooth, Evie’s attempts to douse her anxiety with baked goods may cause a few pounds to creep on while reading!)
As always, Lamb’s central story is supported by an expansive array of entertaining characters. Evie’s mother and two aunts, who own a floral shop as well as a side “funny business,” are always ready to celebrate at the slightest provocation by creating and wearing elaborate hats. Evie’s sex-addled sister, a hot veterinarian, and a lecherous, cringe-worthy policeman, and no less than fifteen rescued and vivacious animal characters—including a three-legged dog, two naughty goats, and a spitting alpaca—create a rich, multi-dimensional palette. You’ll feel you know them all.
But most importantly, you’ll want to cheer on Evie as she comes to grips with the future she can see and the past she never knew. Only then will this profound and touching story of identity and familial love will reveal if Evie’s “gift” is blessing or curse.
All About Evie is now available.
About Cathy Lamb:
Cathy Lamb has written 13 novels by drinking too much coffee and daydreaming endlessly. She lives in Oregon and likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and, like Evie, is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don’t start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up until 2:00 in the morning with them. The next morning, she needs that coffee.