Cover Image: Early Morning Riser

Early Morning Riser

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Member Reviews

Good book, not like anything I've read before. Enjoyable from a writer who is new to me. Would recommend.
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A warm and pleasant read, this book felt familiar and comforting once I had gotten to know the characters. I really enjoyed this; it wasn't fast-paced, nor were there any big twists or turns, though I found myself wanting to learn more about the situations Jane found herself in. This is a heart-warming tale of love, family and friendship over the course of twenty years. It's witty and Jane has some wry observations which I found myself smiling at. 

I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a feel-good novel with relatable characters (we all know someone like Aggie!), this is a gentle but smart tale of living in a small town where everyone knows everyone and everything about them.
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When school teacher Jane moves to Boyne City, she falls for the charmingly handsome Duncan. 
She soon discovers that he’s dated most of the female population in town but has shied away from marrying any of them.
The book follows their relationship over the years and it made me smile as well as shed a few tears.
It starts off quite light hearted but then a tragic accident plagues Jane with guilt and changes both hers and Duncan’s lives.
With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.
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Everyone said this was similar to Gilmore Girls, which I absolutely adore, but this was a little annoying perhaps I just couldn't get into the spirit of thid book, which in places is quite sweet.
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Absolutely gorgeous funny, warm life -affirming book.  And apparently it needs a star rating so I will say five even though star ratings are nonsense. I did love it though. Jenny Colgan.
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I appreciate a story that shows the everyday life and is rather character than plot driven. Adding some wit and a cool cast of characters should be the perfect combination!
That being said, unfortunately this book was filled with characters that did not resemble actual people. There was a balance of heavy and lightness in the book, however the story did not flow for me.. Also as I have seen other people mention, the classroom depicted in the book does not resemble the actual classroom. Also, I could not get on board with some opinions of the characters - on mental health, body image etc. It was just not for me. 

Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate for the eARC.
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Having loved Standard Deviation, I was really excited to be given the opportunity to read this new novel, and I certainly was not disappointed.  Following the story of school teacher Jane over seven different time periods, we really get to know her and her complicated life.  Jane is a hugely likeable character and , like us all, her life goes through periods of joy and challenge.  Beautifully written, this is a lovely study of one woman's life and loves.
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Katherine Heiny has a knack for describing small moments that can make you jolt with recognition. Often it's with a cringe and often with a laugh. She's an excellent observer of character and interactions, finding hilarity in the mundane. Early Morning Riser presents us with young teacher Jane who had moved to a small town where everybody knows everything and everything about them too. She quickly falls for Duncan, the handsome, laid-back carpenter but just as quickly realises that she's the latest in a long line of women who have fallen for his charms. Not least his ex-wife Aggie. With a difficult mother of her own and a quirky mandolin-playing best friend and, James life is ripe for Heiny's insightful but affectionate humour. It's funny and peppered with sad, tender moments, usually centred on Jimmy, Duncan's winning "slow learning" assistant who finds an easy place in everyone's heart. It's a warm, ultimately kind picture about the passing of life and the significance of small, everyday encounters.
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This book follows the life of Jane over a period of 17 years (give or take).  We first meet her as a 26-year-old teacher, with idealistic notions about career, life and love.  As time goes by and we see her relationships developing, we see her growing as a character, which I have to say I found very endearing.

A hugely character driven read, there is an argument for saying not a whole lot happens.  There are some ups and downs, but nothing particularly heinous from a reader’s perspective. Ultimately, I’d say this is far more of a feel-good uplit read than anything else.

The writing is exquisite and is what makes this a book I’d be happy to recommend to anyone who wants something charming and heartfelt and, well, real.  I’ll definitely be checking out more from this author in the future.
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i have little to add to my GR review this book has no narrative. lifeless characters and is utter rubbish
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Unfortunately I just couldn’t get into this book. For me it didn’t flow and the storyline didn’t grip me enough to want to continue more that 15%
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I would like to extend my gratitude to the author, publisher and NetGalley for sending this advanced reader's copy in return for a fair and honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved Jane and felt like I was experiencing her life along with the book. Not many books are like this nowadays. It skipped a lot, but it fitted the story and was not difficult to follow. If you want a nice beach read or a tea and coffee read, then this one is for you.
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Gorgeous book, I really enjoyed it! 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback.
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A fab summer read! It has a perfect mixture of everything: deeply humane characters - flawed, tragic and funny at the same time, a bit of romance, a small-town charm, and wonderful storytelling. It reminded me of Nora Ephron's Heartburn, which I love. Looking forward for more great books from Katherine Heiny!
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comments: Katherine Heiny’s Standard Deviation (2017) is one of the best novels I read over the past five years, and also without a doubt the funniest book I have read in 10 years. In fact, it instantly entered my top 10 in all categories, and I have read it several times since, and it never fails to provide raucous entertainment and comfort.

This, her second novel, is very different, and I’m not sure that I would have guessed it was Heiny if reading it blind. But it is equally clever and observant and charming and affecting. Not quite as funny as the first one, but still a hugely enjoyable read.

One intriguing aspect is this: if you read Standard Deviation you would assume Heiny had led her whole life entirely in Manhattan. But reading Early Morning Riser you would equally guess that she had never moved from a small town in Michigan. She’s a very clever writer…

Jane moves to Boyne City* in Michigan, to take up a job as an elementary school (= UK primary school) teacher. The book tells the story of nearly 20 years in her life, from 2002. She meets Duncan, local charmer and an absolute delight. A running joke throughout the book is that he has slept with such a large number of women that it is difficult to keep track of them. This is a very hard joke to pull off in this era, and even harder to make Duncan seem wholly believable as a Don Juan AND a lovely character AND someone who actually likes women. He is a triumph of the writer’s art.

…Finally she laid down her fork and said to Duncan. “I’m sorry, but how is it possible that you don’t remember having sex with me after a Grateful Dead concert in 1984?”…

Duncan looked up from his plate. “I went to 13 Grateful Dead concerts in 1984. Can you be more specific?”

And the question of the various Lisas is another fine moment: ‘Guess again, Sunny Jim’.

He works as a furniture restorer, and also notoriously is very slow, keeping people’s items forever:

[the customer] “said she’s coming in today to see how much progress you’ve made.”

“Well, put the chifforobe in the middle of the workroom and scatter some sawdust round it,” Duncan said…

I may have to add chifforobe to my very occasional FurnitureWatch feature – normally I am looking out for credenzas (and yes there’s one here, even Jane doesn’t really know what it is) and davenports. See my books blog bingo for more on this, and my planned female fictional PI may now be known as  Credenza ‘Chiff’ Davenport.

Jane and Duncan's relationship has ups and downs. Jane becomes part of the happy town community and gets on with life. At one point you can’t see how (or even if) she and Duncan can get back together. Their hilarious friends and family pop in and out. Then something happens – a big event that changes lives. It is wholly unexpected, and it is best to go into the book with no idea what direction it will take. There is a moral and ethical side to the aftermath that is fascinating to consider and to make a person wonder what they would have done. The book is light, entertaining, an easy read, but shows a most unusual attention to the big questions of life, and shows how basically good people can still be incredibly annoying, and the importance of trying to do the right thing, however reluctantly. It has a firm moral framework.

After the bombshell event, life re-groups and goes on, and we keep following Jane and her friends.

Heiny does the best descriptions of social events, and there are some excellent parties here, well up to the high standard of the Thanksgiving scenes in Standard Deviation, from Taco Tuesdays to the dinner party with the Grateful Dead dialogue above to TV/film watching events. Heiny is always really good on food, and on clothes – no wonder I love her.

It seemed to Jane that every item of clothing Aggie owned was the colour of some delicious food: melon, honey, peach, salmon, butterscotch, raspberry, lemon. Perhaps because she was such a good cook.

Jane meanwhile gets hers from the thrift shop, as, above, her wedding dress. Marmalade -  more food. (On the blog here is another book that specializes in food colours and metahphors)

Heiny draws tremendous characters, rounded and with good and bad sides. The book is entirely seen from Jane’s point of view, but still the author manages to make us see past Jane’s (entirely reasonable) prejudices. There are no villains: like real people, the characters can be stupid and thoughtless one minute, but show a sudden kindness the next. And the dialogue is always wonderful - simultaneously real, and funny, and making you think you’ve never seen it written down quite like that before.

Had Jane’s mother ever just accepted anything? Ever chosen silence as an option? Ever thought, Well that’s unusual, but perhaps I’d be better not saying anything? No. Jane could not remember a single occasion.

Here's a mother dealing with her children: ‘she reached for patience the way she might reach an arm behind the sofa to retrieve a dropped TV remote. She groped for a moment, felt patience fumble from her fingertips, and then got a grip on it and pulled it out.’

And those moments where Jane feels got at – as above, and here, both comments from Duncan’s ex-wife:

“I think you’re good for Duncan… He needs someone who isn’t so concerned with being glamorous all the time, who isn’t outrageously pretty -”

Early Morning Riser had the feel of an Anne Tyler book sometimes (a great compliment) but Heiny is her own self. Can’t wait to see what she writes next.

*Boyne City is a real place, and there is a hilarious one star amazon review of this book by a grumpy citizen who feels his town has been misrepresented. In fact I think most readers love her picture of Boyne City, and would like to live there.
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Jane can't escape Duncan's exes, but can she overlook their constant presence in order to build a life with the man she loves - and will Duncan's wondering eye finally stop roving? 

A story of love, break ups and the unexpected things life throws at us, I adored everything about Early Morning Riser - the relationships, the friendships, the sadness, the triumphs and finding happiness in the unexpected. Definitely recommend!
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Charting Jane's life over a number of years, relationships, and associated friends and family, Heiny captures the shocks and minutae of life all at once. It's all in here; the wrongs we accept, the lengths we go to for each other, the things think we want, and the things we think we don't. There is a bounce to her writing that makes her books so enjoyable to read.
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Katherine Heiny does it again. I didn’t think I could ever love a book more than I loved Standard Deviation, but early morning riser smashed that ‘standard.’ Heiny’s characters are unforgettable and she’s one of few authors who can truly make me laugh out loud.
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Well, this was a surprise. Started off as a slow burner and then I seem to have not really got much done today, other than read. A simple, sweet book, with deep emotions. The main characters were all so likeable -even Aggie! 
Give it a go, it's worth it
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I really love funny books - and that was exactly what I hoped this would be.  I crave uncomplicated humour, laugh-out loud moments, funny characters and events.  Searching for this, however, can sometimes feel like looking for the Holy Grail!

This book didn't quite hit my funny bone as squarely as I hoped.

It's the story of Jane, a teacher, who falls for Duncan.  Unfortunately, he's the local Lothario and has slept with most of the women in Boyne City - not ideal material for a life partner.  Plus he comes with additional baggage in the shape of his work partner Jimmy, a man dependent on Duncan and not capable of living independently.  Jane certainly has her work cut out for her...

There were humorous moments in the book, but it was also peppered with tragedy and poignancy - especially in relation to Jimmy.  It's my fault and not the book but this isn't really to my taste - it is well-written and engaging, plus the characters are well-developed.  I just wasn't in the mood for the side order of sadness.

I don't know if teaching is really different in the US, or whether this was set over a period when safeguarding wasn't an issue, but some of the school bits were surprising.  I'm probably super-sensitive to this because I'm a teacher but there were some decidedly dodgy teaching practices!

I'd certainly read other books by this writer and did enjoy parts of this one - it just wasn't the right book for me right now.
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