Book review: MAYBE THIS TIME, by Jennifer Crusie

Jennifer Crusie
St Martin’s Press
ISBN 978-0-312-30378-5

It has been six years since Jennifer Crusie has written a solo novel.  Friends, it was worth the wait.  Maybe This Time, published by St. Martin’s Press on August 30th, is her best book yet.  It’s also another step in her long, interesting career, from category romances to big, funny contemporary romances to suspens-y books written with Bob May, to….this.

Maybe This Time will draw a cheer from readers who adored Bet Me (2004 RITA award winner) and her earlier romances for St. Martins, but it is a step outside romance into women’s fiction, in a story about a woman who is discovers herself, saves some children, and along the way, realizes that maybe she has some lingering feelings for the husband she left behind.

Oh, and there are ghosts. Real ghosts.  I love ghosts, and almost no one takes them seriously enough for my tastes. Crusie got it.  But then, she gets writing. She gets the poignant aspects of humor for women.  She gets the tangled communication between men and women, and how that impacts our love stories.  She gets love stories, for that matter.  This book is smart and funny, as all Crusie work is, but it’s also wise and rich in the best, most vivid details, and best of all, powered by a fierce heart of understanding.

Andie Miller is ready to get married again, but before she can walk down the aisle with her fiancé Will, she has to actually divorce the husband she left ten years ago.  North Archer is a lawyer who has faithfully sent an alimony check to Andie every month for the entirety of that ten years.  When Andie shows up at his office to announce her intention to wed, North asks one last favor.  Andie, who is both unconventional and kind, is the only person he can trust to assess the situation with North’s two young wards, who are marooned in a supposedly haunted house they will not leave.  Andie, of course, refuses—she doesn’t need to be anywhere close to North now that she’s made up her mind to get this done—until he offers her ten thousand dollars for one month of work.  It would solve a lot of problems, that money.  Then he throws in the kicker: the kids are alone and they need somebody. Andie agrees, leaving her fiancé safely in his own apartment.

What she doesn’t expect are those ghosts, or to fall in love with a little girl, or to discover that she isn’t really over North at all.

Not many writers would have the huevos to tackle Henry James and the Turn of the Screw, but luckily for us, Crusie never backs away from the ideas and themes that enchant her.  Maybe This Time is a furious page turner, and just scary enough that I didn’t especially want to go downstairs to the basement alone to finish reading it.  The ghosts are as well drawn as the rest of the cast, and so is the creepy, atmospheric house with its turrets and sad history.

But what Crusie does better than anyone is find the heart of why we fall in love with a particular person, and how the yearning to be seen and then have a witness to share our lives with, are such powerful hungers in each and every one of us.  By turns kind and fierce and graceful, Maybe This Time is the one book this fall you will want the minute it hits the stands.

4 thoughts on “Book review: MAYBE THIS TIME, by Jennifer Crusie

  1. SueD

    Barbara, your review is so insightful. I’m in absolute agreement. I was fortunate enough to read an ARC of Maybe this Time and it was truly wonderful.

  2. Tony

    From The Ann Arbor Public Library website:
    Maybe this time
    * Crusie, Jennifer.
    * New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2010.

    * No copies available. 42 requests on 0 items.
    * » Request the next available copy
    The word’s out!

  3. Loreth

    I adore the sound of this! As for the cover … it had me right there. Awesome review.

  4. Thanks, Tony! Beautiful.

    Me, too, Loreth. Love that cover.

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