Katherine Heiny’s second novel Early Morning Riser is tender, funny and affecting, a charming friend of a book to ease the Covid blues. Jane is a teacher who moves to a small town and seeks to build a life for herself. She falls into an affair with Duncan, a handyman who also seems to have been handy with most of the local female population – he is “good with women the way other people are good with cars or numbers”.
The pair end up looking after Jimmy, a young man with learning difficulties, and this relationship forms the emotional core of the story. Heiny is never cosy – she is far too sharp and funny for that – but in exploring the value of life’s bruises and heartaches she concludes that there are many things worse than simply settling for what you have.
Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny is out now (4th Estate, £14.99)