I’ve been on a novella kick for the past few weeks, and I am loving it! Short time commitment, small prices—what more could a reader ask for? Even better, the format of these short books seems to invite experimentation—you can find novellas with very unusual premises more easily than you can with full-length novels. The following three novellas being cases in point.
The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher
Henry is the type of guy who has it all: the posh apartment, the car, the high-powered job. Yet he climbs to the top of one of the Brooklyn Bridge towers one cold morning, fully intending to kill himself. There he finds Christa, who by coincidence is also planning to kill herself after receiving a second cancer diagnosis. Although neither Henry nor Christa see any point in living for themselves, they don’t want another person’s death to be on their conscience, either; so they make a pact to give one another 24 hours to convince the other person life is worth living.
The Bridge is one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a long time. It’s all about forming connections with people, having the courage to accept that bad things might happen to you, and having the faith that you and the people around you will be able to deal with it all. Maher does an excellent job of capturing what depression is like without making the novella itself depressing—in fact, it’s very hopeful and inspiring. Henry and Christa are completely sympathetic characters who have great chemistry, and the story is extremely compelling. Definitely a read-in-a-sitting, then immediately-want-to-read-again type of book. The Bridge has everything you could ever possibly want in a romantic story.
Verdict: Buy This novella is on the short list for my favorite reads of the year.
The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
Proposed alternate title: Waiting on Wednesday
Carrie is a single librarian who’s happy with her life, for the most part. But sometimes she stays up until dawn, wondering where her life is going, if it’s going anywhere at all. During one of these insomnia attacks, she comes across an online dating ad: “I will meet you on Wednesdays at noon in Celebration Park. Kissing only.” Intrigued, Carrie responds to the ad and quickly finds herself falling for cute attorney, Brian. Yet despite their obvious connection, Brian refuses to let their relationship move beyond Wednesdays, and Carrie is determined to find out why.
The beginning of The Story Guy is sweet and full of humor. I fell in love with Brian when Carrie asked if he thought librarians were sexy and he responded, “Who doesn’t?” Keeper alert! Like The Bridge, this is a read-in-one-sitting type of book that’s about finding human connection and having the courage to be more than simply content. That being said, the phone sex scene didn’t work for me at all, and the second half of the novella is less enthralling than the first. I was a little annoyed by Carrie’s insistence on waiting forever for Brian. Still, I loved how Rivers used the premise to anchor the main characters’ relationship and how she turned online dating from a creep show to something really romantic.
Verdict: Buy For 99 cents it’s more than worth it.
The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan
Proposed alternate title: The Governess Who Waited
After being let go from her position as a governess due to rumors that she slept with the Duke of Clermont, Serena appears at the duke’s London home demanding recompense. For what? Only the duke knows, and he’s not telling. Instead, the duke sends his man of business, Hugo Marshall, to deal with Serena while he hies off to the country. Will Hugo destroy Serena or save her?
People smarter than myself have adored this novella, but I sincerely fail to see how Serena’s revenge “plan” makes a lick of sense. So basically she thinks literally sitting around doing nothing and saying nothing is somehow going to give her this “voice” she’s so desperate for? What the what? Even stupid Edie’s plan from Secrets and Lords was better than that. Fortunately Hugo’s around to save her ass and send her into the country, where she waits AGAIN for him to realize love is more important than money. Seriously, people, Amy Pond could take lessons from this girl. Dear Ms. Milan, the 19th century called and would like you to know that women ACTUALLY DID DO THINGS.
Verdict: Borrow Despite my annoyance, The Governess Affair was an okay read. And besides which, it is free.
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