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Review: Early Morning Riser

May 6th 2021

It’s a bit awkward when the man you fall in love with has slept with every woman in town.

Boyne City, Michigan. Duncan’s ex-girlfriends are everywhere. He still mows his ex-wife’s lawn. But when tragedy strikes, Jane and Duncan’s lives become linked inextricably.

LMR review:

Sometimes you come across a book whose anecdotes are so recognisable that it feels like a long-lost friend. Anyone who remembers encountering Bridget Jones for the first time will recognise in this book (when they’ve stopped laughing) that wonderful sense of being seen.

From the get-go, this novel just fizzes with brilliant humour. Every turn of phrase, every observation is perfectly executed and keeps you turning page after page, laughing merrily along. Fans of Bridget Jones, Caitlin Moran and the Guilty Feminist podcast – basically of any form of real-life feminism which nods to all the times we’ve intended to take a stand and metaphorically fallen over – are sure to enjoy this book.

Duncan is that impossible enigma – the man who seems to have gone out with every woman in a hundred-mile radius but somehow remained friends with all of them. He’s funny, sweet and charming and – surprisingly – doesn’t seem sleezy. Our heroine, Jane, is no pushover and the coming-together of these two people against a backdrop of a town of ex-girlfriends is a recipe for fabulous hilarity. And when a tragic accident means that Jane’s life is inextricably linked to Duncan’s and his friend Jimmy, Jane is forced to confront what a deeper kind of happiness really means.

If you need a smile put on your face right now, spend ten minutes with this book and your mood will instantly lift. It’s uproariously, boundlessly, huge-heartedly funny.

It’s full of sunshine, dinner parties gone wrong, ice cream, nosy neighbours and beautiful sunrises. The story is funny, the characters are brilliant and above all, the portrayal of a life lived a bit messily is so relatable and down to earth. It’s just completely what the world needs right now. A brilliant gift to oneself and one to direct to all your pals. Bittersweet and joyous.

Style guide:

Really quick-witted and funny. The writing is zesty and funny both at the plot and sentence level.


During supper—Jane made an omelet and a salad—Duncan told her that he was really a woodworker and specialized in custom-made tables and chairs, but since someone wanted one of those only every once in a while, he also did antique furniture restoration and lock­smithing, and that he’d grown up in a small town in the Upper Pen­insula, and that he used to be married to a real estate agent named Aggie who could not tell the difference between a smallmouth and a largemouth bass. (Jane wasn’t sure if that was just some descriptive detail about Aggie or Duncan’s reason for divorcing her.)

“Where is Aggie now?” she asked.

“Where?” Duncan looked puzzled “This time of night, she’s probably home over on Alice Street, I guess.”

“Oh,” Jane said. “I didn’t realize she lived around here.”

“Yeah, nice little house. I mow her lawn still.”

Jane folded her napkin into smaller rectangles. “You must be very close.”

“I don’t know about close.” Duncan took a bite of his omelet. “We’re friendly enough, I guess, seeing as she up and left me for Gary Polnichik at State Farm, and they’ve been married almost ten years now.”

“Why doesn’t Gary mow the lawn?” Jane asked.

“He doesn’t like it, and I don’t mind,” Duncan said. “Plus, he helps me with my taxes.”

Duncan talked a lot. He told Jane that she should buy eggs from the farmers’ market, and that she should never order the clam chow­der at Robert’s Restaurant, and that the dentist had a drinking problem but morning appointments were generally okay, and that Bradley Reed up on the corner had a tendency to watch folks with his binoculars if they left their window shades up, and that the olive burger at the Boyne River Inn couldn’t be beat, and later he said, “I’m the luckiest man in Boyne City,” as he pulled Jane’s pajama pants off while she lay back on her sofa.

“But Boyne City is only about two hundred people!” Jane pro­tested.

Media 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

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