Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe 


Named one of 2019’s most anticipated reads by LitHub and Entertainment Weekly

From a bright new voice in contemporary fiction comes a hilarious and sophisticated comedy of manners about a delightfully eccentric family and the absurd happenings that befall them during one frenzied summer at their home in the Pacific Northwest. 

The inimitable—some might say incorrigible—Frank Widdicombe is suffering from a deep depression. Or so his wife, Carol, believes. But Carol is convinced that their new island home—Willowbrook Manor on the Puget Sound—is just the thing to cheer her husband up. And so begins a whirlwind summer as their house becomes the epicenter of multiple social dramas involving the family, their friends, and a host of new acquaintances.

The Widdicombes’ son, Christopher, is mourning a heartbreak after a year abroad in Italy. Their personal assistant, Michelle, begins a romance with preppy screenwriter Bradford, who also happens to be Frank’s tennis partner. Meanwhile, a local named Marvelous Matthews is hired to create a garden at the manor—and is elated to find Gracie Sloane, bewitching self-help author, in residence as well. When this alternately bumbling and clever cast of characters comes together, Willowbrook transforms into a circus of uncovered secrets, preposterous misunderstandings, and irrepressible passions.

Written in a singularly witty and satirical style, Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is perfect for fans of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, Andrew Sean Greer's Less, and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins.

Reviews and Praise:

“James is a writer to watch, one with a fresh take on American flaws and virtues that nevertheless feels old-school screwball.”The Washington Post

“Oh look, it’s the perfect book.”Cosmopolitan

“Never a dull moment.”Kirkus

“This debut from Evan James brings the classic comedy of manners into the 21st century.”Town & Country

“James’s debut blends saucy wit with a fresh voice. . . . The dynamic characters will satisfy many tastes, and it’s with a writerly sleight-of-hand that the peculiar humor and quirky truths of family, friendship, and love are revealed.” Publishers Weekly

“What a joy to be with the Widdicombes! As funny and charming as a summer party you never want to end.”— Andrew Sean GreerPulitzer Prize-winning author of Less

Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is shrewd as hell and hysterically funny. A summer novel, a comedy of manners, a razor-sharp satire of the idle rich…there’s so much unbridled pleasure to be found in this rogue’s gallery of new-age self-help gurus, aspiring screenwriters, bird-watching party-planning social climbers, lovesick assistants, despondent patriarchs, ne’er-do-well houseguests, indolent watercolorists, and loveably loathsome cads of all kinds.”— Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

“An assured, big-hearted debut, as tender as it is hilarious. Evan James's wry intelligence and sense of the absurd are an absolute delight.”— R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe had me smiling from the very first page, and long after I put it down. Evan James writes dysfunctional characters with more wit, compassion, and heart than any writer I’ve come across in a long time. This is an enormously satisfying debut.”— Grant Ginder, author of The People We Hate at the Wedding

“An absurd and hilarious satire full of unlikely characters who are all wildly introspective, dysfunctional, and prone to New Age philosophizing." — Library Journal